Moving Away from Absolutes

Last week I was teaching an Inner Leadership workshop to a tri-sector group of seasoned leaders in the New England area. I began with a few minutes of a grounding practice that included breathing, visualization and intention setting. When I asked for feedback following those minutes, people said various things across the spectrum of experiences, and one person said in a fairly strong and direct way, “Honestly, I didn’t understand one word you said.”

Beyond his comment, in several classes I’ve participated in lately, I’ve noticed some people fairly caustically making statements to the professor with no room for a counter-point. And even in Teton County’s local elections, some candidates chose to behave in ways that left little room for discussion or negotiation. What became accepted in national politics sadly seems to be slipping more into the mainstream of dialogue, and to no one’s long-term benefit.

Differences of opinion are healthy. Debate, negotiation and learning to navigate conflict are a key part of the human journey — and the challenges we face now on the planet are complex with many angles to understand. But hyperbole, intimidation, personalization and absolute language do nothing to expand our understanding, connections and help us get to more effective solutions.

So here’s a thought as we go into the holidays and Thanksgiving Week. We make a commitment to ourselves to not fall into any absolutes personally, and when we hear someone else, we kindly and gently ask them more about their comment (no matter what the issue). And we listen with heart, with openness… tell me more about what you’re thinking, more about what you’re feeling, more about why what came up for you… We give ourselves the time without emotion to understand, and we both learn what’s really driving their comments.

And maybe we even circle back to how the comment could have been structured differently to bring about discussion and not polarization.

Yes, these times may be challenging…and as we learn to navigate and stand up for discussions, not absolutes, we return to and more deeply build connection and effective problem solving.

And by the way, at the the end of my workshop last week, the person who “didn’t understand a word I said” came up to talk about continuing the learning and support to build the practices of inner leadership.

Step by step with openness and listening — Quiet shifts and seismic changes unfold

To releasing absolutes in our language – and building together a wider field. As Rumi once said, “Outside all the right doing and wrong doing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.”

Blessings and safe travels for Thanksgiving Week,

PS. Sorry to those of you who have been using the app. We are working through technical details in the ongoing world of technology updates.

In the meantime, a timer and journal work great.

Six Minutes Daily….3 minutes or so of breathing slowly in and out…Allowing the light of the day to flow through the crown of your head down all your body’s pathways, and allowing the fire from deep in the earth to flow up through your feet — feeling both the light and fire swirl around and energize your heart and core. Just breathe in presence of the moment. Visualize the exhales carrying away anything you’d like to release.

Then 2 minutes of so of breathing in your intentions for the day… a word, value or phrase to ground you. Patience…courage…clarity…curiosity…love…honesty….anything that feels like it will help you during the day..

And then a minute or so of breathing in gratitude for something or someone whom you appreciate or learned from. And perhaps even picture your breath as a golden thread of thanks from your heart to theirs.

And on we go 🙂

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