This is advice we’ve all probably heard at one point or another and it makes sense. For a close, connected and genuine relationship, opening up your heart and communicating from a place of love and compassion is a great idea.
Many of us misunderstand exactly what that means.
Heart-centered communication is easy when all is smooth and harmonious in your relationship and life, but when stress rises, crises occur or disagreements develop, it can feel impossible to speak and listen in this way.
This is when our misunderstandings of what heart-centered communication can escalate tensions and lead to painful separation within ourselves and with the one we love.
To “speak from the heart” is sometimes assumed to mean that you can only agree or say “yes,” because that’s the “loving” thing to do. It is often believed that speaking from the heart is all about being “nice,” “spiritual” or saying only what “should” be said to preserve the relationship peace and not hurt the other person’s feelings.
According to what many of us think heart-centered communication is supposed to be, we shouldn’t always be honest or upfront about how we truly feel and what we really want. In other words, the way we misunderstand “speaking from the heart” leads us to speak from our minds and neglect what’s alive in our hearts.
This, as you may occasionally (or often) experience in your own life, can be about the most UN-peaceful thing for all involved.
When you’re not honest and you’re trying to avoid arguments or disappointing your partner, you erode trust and put distance between the two of you. You also intensify the internal conflict within you. You may have temporarily avoided an argument or dodged your partner’s disappointment, but you have done so at great emotional cost.
We invite you to question your beliefs about what “speaking from the heart” can mean for you– not what you think it “should” mean. Stretch yourself to find ways to communicate with integrity and also with the intention to keep relationship connection healthy and close.
Be honest with yourself.
You absolutely cannot speak from your heart if you’re out of touch with it. If you’ve trained yourself (maybe not intentionally) to ignore your feelings because you’re mostly focused on others and on what you think they want, you’re not helping anybody.
Take regular time to hear what’s alive within you and what you are called to be and do.
Meditation is a powerful tool to open up communication between you and you. You can meditate by sitting quietly for as little as 10 or 20 minutes a day, by walking outdoors and simply being present to your surroundings or in some other way that invites you to slow down and return to yourself. With a clearer mind, you can more easily understand how you’re feeling and when your answer to a request or puzzling situation is a “yes,”when it’s a “no” and when it’s a “maybe.”
The big misunderstanding about heart-centered communication can actually fall into two extremes: There is a belief that EITHER you push down your true feelings to keep peace in your relationship OR you spout off what’s true for you in a raw, impulsive way.
“I’m just being honest,” is often uttered after people say something harsh or unkind. And while it feels true for you, it’s not necessarily fair and accurate or even true for you beyond that heated moment. Spewing raw and unexamined feelings on your partner can damage intimacy and tear you two apart. This is also NOT heart-centered communication.
Heart-centered communication operates between the extremes and nourishes both you and your relationship…even when it’s not easy or comfortable.
Speak your truth with love.
In between those mistaken assumptions about heart-centered communication is a lot of space. There’s room for you to communicate about what you’re feeling with integrity and there’s room for you to speak it in a way that your partner can hear and then respond to with integrity as well.
Use consciously chosen words like, “I feel hurt when you shout at me” and “I don’t understand what you mean when you say you want more time for yourself” and “I don’t agree with you on this and I’d like to talk more so we can find a solution we’ll both feel good about.”
With an intention to stay connected and deliberate choice in how you say what you want to say, you CAN be honest and real with your partner even when you don’t agree or you’re certain your partner won’t like what you have to say.
That’s the way to build connection and nourish love.