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It takes a certain level of emotional maturity to be able to enter any conversation in an authentic way. Such maturity cannot be faked, or assumed, or mimicked by adoption of technique. It can only come through the slow process of entering into relationship with, and coming to gradual peace and resolution in relation to the core issues we carry through our lives – to those early childhood wounds that have left us scarred, shamed, embarrassed, guilty, guarded, fearful, angry, anxious, cautious and wary of the world.
This is not a process it is appropriate to bring directly into most conversations, unless the purpose of the conversation is overtly meant to be therapeutic. But it is nonetheless a process that must take place to a certain extent on both sides of a conversation before clear communication is even possible.
This is why at Yggdrasil, we have made “tending the sacred wound” our first soul task; while “inviting dialogue” is third. Second is “cultivating visionary calling,” which in essence means learning how to transmute the pain and suffering of our core wounds into something positive that we can then offer back to the world.
These soul tasks are not part of a spiritual to-do list, but rather ongoing challenges meant to engage each of us throughout a lifetime of attention and intention. Nonetheless, we must have traveled a certain distance in relation to the first two soul tasks before we can consider the third. Before we can enter a genuine dialogue with a diverse intelligence – in this case, a human with a different point of view – without our issues becoming a major, albeit largely unconscious obstacle, we must be thoroughly immersed in the ongoing hard work of self-healing.
Until we do a certain amount of work on our own issues, any communication that triggers them will carry an unspoken emotional edge. Whether we intend to or not, we will bring all of our unresolved emotional scars – our shame, embarrassment, guilt, fearful self-armoring, anger, anxiety, caution and inherent wariness to the table. All of this will get in the way of clear and honest communication, even if clear and honest communication is our conscious goal.
At the same time, it is important to be aware that the process of working toward genuine communication will invariably bring up all of our core issues. We are conditioned to believe that a sense of emotional vulnerability in relationship means that communication has broken down, and that we need to retreat to a safer and more superficial distance in order to restore balance. From the soul’s perspective, however, vulnerability becomes the portal to genuine intimacy, and if we can stay with our discomfort, holding our desire for the other person’s wellbeing, the relationship can begin to shift and deepen. It is only when we truly bare our souls to each other and take full responsibility for the shape they are in that we can begin to build trust with another person willing to do the same.
A good relationship – built on mutual trust and a shared desire for the well-being of the other – will invariably trigger our core wounds and provide a safe container in which they can be addressed and healed. From a spiritual perspective, painful though it may be, this is actually a gift we give each other. If we never risk the triggering of our core wounds in relationship, then we cannot expect our sense of common ground with others to deepen. If, on the other hand, we are brave enough open to the feelings that are triggered in an authentic relationship, then the possibility exists that through the relationship we will become more than we ever could in the safe self-imposed prison of our comfort zone.
The next post in this series is Dropping the Mask.
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