Have you ever experienced meeting another person and everything felt like it clicked? You finish each other's sentences and rift off the meaning underlying whatever concept you are exploring? Ahhh... the enjoyment of budding new relationships filled with infinite possibilities! It's likened to a "honeymoon" experience in relationships with powerful attractor fields at play.
What was it like when the "honeymoon" was over? When things didn't unfold as you had predicted or hoped for? When the first unexpected wrinkle in the smooth interactions was noticed - what was your felt experience in that moment?
Perhaps your body paused in contraction, your brow furrowed, and you noticed you were unable to speak. Did you hold your breath?
Maybe your spine straightened, and you leaned forward aggressively, as a compulsion to take action was sparked within you "to communicate, take control, or set things right!"
Or could it be you experienced checking out, a hazy fog in your mind, a felt sense of disappearing in the relationship. Was the exchange experienced as abrupt, or harsh, and directed at you in the moment? Did you lose your focus and become distracted with other things to occupy your attention?
What might it be like to notice (whatever your first reaction may have been) and then choose to do something differently instead? What if you paused, for just a moment, with the intention to witness the experience?
Is it possible to stay curious about your own inner experience? To slow down time and notice how you receive communication? Rather than making it "right or wrong" simply witness your experience of receiving this unique flavor of energy which has alerted your nervous system. What do you notice about your reaction to this particular frequency? Do you receive it through your body sensations, or do you receive it from outside or inside your mind? Could it be you receive information from energy through images that come suddenly, or is it that a message emerges as an "inner knowing" and you trust it is true?
With gentle curiosity (and suspended judgement) can you notice a unique pattern emerge? Which frequency of energy in motion (emotion) has knocked you off balance consistently? What are your automatic reactions?
My personal pattern was to disappear, especially in the face of energy I perceived as condescending and dominantly harsh. I would experience myself as "wrong" and "shamed" and if I couldn't actually disappear, I would have no words to stay engaged or name my truth. My way of reacting became learned helplessness and hopeless with a high sensitivity to my environment. I perfected my way of surviving victimhood (who I perceived I was from experience) rather than thriving (being who I am born to be).
Once we begin to break unspoken cultural rules about what can be referenced and mentioned, we will need empathy support for shame and our sense of exclusion. To matter and feel acceptance in relationship with peers is a very important sign of satisfaction in interpersonal relationships.
I found my way to Nonviolent Communication and Interpersonal Neurobiology out of desperation to experience something different, and gratefully have received a TON of empathy support over the years. Being held in a container of warmth, understanding, and acceptance, has allowed the embedded patterns of conditioning to unravel and new neural pathways of resilience to lie down in my nervous system. As I received consistent empathy support I developed my own resonating self-witness. This inner-witness is not simply a compassionate voice; it is a deeply responsive, warmly curious, and generous voice. (These new pathways empower us to live into a new way of being in our relationships, with self, and other.)
I remember receiving a correspondence from someone who began their communication acknowledging value for the gifts I bring into the world, and I noticed how my heart felt soft and open in response. The next sentence, however, moved swiftly into an expression of pent up anger and frustration around how this person experienced being in relationship with me, followed by demands around how I should show up in the relationship. I felt stunned, perceiving a sense of patronizing superiority in the languaging. A sharp pang radiated in my chest, a clenching in my gut, disconcerted by the incongruences throughout the communication. Rocking back and breathing I slowed to tune in with my inner experience.
My resonating self-witness checked in with me curiously, "Are you sensing a threat to your integrity and personal space?" I noticed my semi-collapsed form shift ever so slightly as I soaked up the tender gaze, attuned resonance, and enduring care available to me. "Remember," she acknowledged gently, "I am here with you; I know how much you value authenticity, especially in relationships with those holding positions of perceived power in leadership." My breathing deepened as I curiously turned my attention further inward.
"What is the learning here for me right here and now?" I wondered aloud, to my self-witness, "What pattern is emerging to empower me to be me anyway?"
(Neuroscience reveals how old patterns (neuro-nets) dissipate when they are no longer driving behaviors for survival. As we experience the felt sense of being safe and of mattering, we begin to live in our "social engagement system" (the ventral channel of the vagus nerve.) When the energy is flowing through the ventral channel, we are empowered to notice that other people (as well as our self) exist in the moment. We develop and enhance dual sensory awareness. Not only do we tune into our inner experience, we can see other people's faces, take in their subtle cues, and perceive the impact our interactions have had on them relationally. This means that we notice when the heart-connection has been negatively impacted, and we reach out to restore it. This is called repair.)
Pausing, I focused on tapping into my heart space, witnessing the energy running and flowing through my vagus nerve connecting me with Source Energy. As I took this time to listen deeply to my body's needs, I received the learning available to me in the moment.
Rather than falling into an old default pattern of taking it personally, giving up, getting distracted, or making anyone "wrong" (including myself) through self-empathy it is possible to stay engaged and recognize my own reactive conditioning (no matter how subtle it may be). I can be vulnerable and honest with myself about my default network; and with self-compassion and self-understanding take the time I need for self-repair. From this space within, my inner experience makes sense and I am empowered with all the grace and freedom I need to be me. I am willing to take responsibility for my own feelings and needs - and contribute to Life differently - with honesty and confident, authentic self-expression.
Energetically this changes the whole dance step of interpersonal connection. This is the relational dance of authenticity experienced through The Way of the Horse.