Sunday, December 13, 2009

Do you hear me? Do you care?

Words are so very powerful.

What I've learned over the years is that the old saying "sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me" is a big fat lie.

Words are mighty. They can evoke depths of emotion - happiness, sadness, anger, defensiveness - with one turn of phrase.

They can make or break relationships.

They can hurt worse than any breaking of bone. Bones heal. Hearts aren't nearly so resilient.

I realized tonight the importance of a simple phrase...a preface to a potentially hurtful statement that could have led to a defensive finger pointing conversation. The conversation was nothing of the sort though because of these words uttered to me...

"I need to be transparent with you about something."

I was busy in my head prior to that. Mulling some things over, thinking about the last few months, processing the weekend just ending, wondering about what my future holds for me, feeling grateful for a fabulous circle of friends, trying to come up with blog topics, etc.

But as soon as Lex uttered those words to me, I stopped. I stilled the running commentary in my head. I opened up my heart and my head for whatever he might say. I prepared myself to remain open to his words, his intent. I remembered my promise to him to listen carefully, to give him a chance to say what was on his mind, to not assume, and to consider his feelings and my own carefully.

It makes all the difference in the world.

Now, what he had to say did not hurt me nor was he upset with me...he just needed to express himself. More importantly, he needed me to stop and listen and help him acknowledge his own feelings. But after we talked I realized once again how incredibly special our communication is and how fortunate we are to be able to say whatever it is we have to say to one another and not have it dissolve into some kind of spiteful exchange of defensive hurt.

Because if he'd stated what he needed to say another way, it would have hurt and it could have ended with me in tears. But it didn't. Because of that phrase. Because we promised each other we would communicate this way.

And I'm also seeing how the practice of it with Lex has made it that much easier for me to practice with other people.

Transparency is an easy theory to learn. It's much more difficult to do. Once you learn though? It becomes easier and easier and then you wonder how in the world you ever lived without it.

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