"Without a new direction, our minds will continue to create exactly what we've always created."
I was talking to a friend of mine the other day who's been divorced for a little over a year now. As I listened to her share her frustration with the drama that's going on between her and her ex, I remembered back when I was in that place with my ex. I recalled, on many occasions, cringing every time I saw my ex's cell phone number pop up on the incoming call. My heart sank. I didn't want to pick it up but I if I didn't, I'd pay for it later. I remember him always getting upset with me for something I said or did while the kids were with me on my visitation weekend. I felt as if I didn't do anything right. I became very frustrated and agnry.
Looking back, I recall the aftermath of my divorce which was the first year. It was bad. The second year got a little better. It wasn't until the third year that the conflict between us got less and our communication got better. Today, I see why the third year was better. It's because I began to change. That was the year I was in school learning how to better myself through a Spiritual Psychology Masters Program that taught personal awareness and self-development. I learned many useful skills which I applied with my ex. One skill that helped me significantly in all areas of my life was Heartfelt Listening.
During that third year after our divorce, I applied Heartfelt Listening with my ex. I practiced listening to him from my heart instead of my head and didn't allow my emotions of what he was saying affect me. It took a lot of practice to do this and I got better at it each time. I started looking at him differently then just as my ex. I practiced seeing him as a valuable human being who deserves to be heard. Truth is, he is a valuable person as we all are. Sometimes I would say a short prayer before our conversation or during a heated one. I still say short prayers today before and during certain conversations with others. It goes something like this, "Thank you God for sending love, light and blessings to me and (name) in our discussion together."
Another skill I practiced when we had a conversation was allowing my ex to talk without interrupting him. Wow, that was difficult. He'd say all kinds of things that pushed my buttons and triggered me. But, I bit my tongue and remained silent. Not all the time did I bite my tongue. Sometimes, I found myself fall right back to our old patterns and dialogue of arguing and blaming. I didn't give up though. I continued to keep practicing my communication skills with him and gradually I began to notice the dynamics between us changed.
I began to notice a difference in our conversations when I practiced acknowledging him. For example, he would say something and I'd listen.He'd say more and I'd listen to what he had to say. When he was finished. I said, "I hear you (name)". Then I would acknowledge that I understood his point of view or how I could see his perspective and I validated what he was feeling and experiencing. It didn't mean I agreed with him. I was acknowledging him for where he was coming from in the situation verses only seeing it my way. I showed him kindness and compassion. Have you ever been acknowledged by someone? It feels amazing! I feel appreciated, respected, valued, understood, and validated.
I recall one time, while vacationing, my ex called me up and began to go off on me for something. I practiced my listening skills with him. I held my tongue and didn't react to what he said. I waited until he finished and then I told him I heard what he was saying. He went on, asked me questions and I answered him. This went on for a good twenty minutes. When he was done I acknowledged him and we hung up. He was complete. I didn't engage with him in the drama of blaming and name calling and arguing. Instead, I just listened and didn't react to what he said. I heard and acknowledged him and his concerns. I kept our conversation short, as much as possible, and I remained focused on the intention of the conversation. Meaning, the conversation was to clear up specific information not to vent, argue or go off.
Over the years, our conversation became shorter and less frequent and eventually friendly. Enough time had passed which allowed us to both heal and move forward. In the beginning, it took time for us to adjust to our different life styles and new partners. And, I realize today, that that's OK. It's a process. So, allow yourself time to heal, to change and to be a better person. And in the int-rum, practice your listening skills.