Never talk politics or religion or sex or race or money, especially in “mixed company.” Our culture has lots of rules around staying silent regarding topics that might raise conflict or incite judgment. But if we habitually choose silence, safety, and harmony, our needs for deep intimacy, true authenticity, personal growth, and social justice may never be met.
The trick is to raise these personal/public subjects in the spirit of seeking mutual understanding, rather than mutual agreement. Because if we can put everyone’s universal human needs on the table, we most definitely can open our hearts to each other and collectively come up with creative strategies that meet everyone’s needs.
This March, in my biweekly column for Spirituality & Health Magazine, I’ve looked at how to tackle two very different, very tough topics. The first takes on the topic of responding to infidelity in your community:
I co-own a two-family house with a friend of mine; we share maintenance responsibilities as well as a garden. We chose to enter into this legal and community relationship because of a strong set of shared values. However, in the years since we bought the place a lot has changed. My neighbor cheated on his partner, they broke up, she moved out, and his new girlfriend (the woman he cheated with) moved in. Now they’re getting married. (Click here to read the rest of the letter and my response.)
The second reader letter asks about how to connect with family whose religious differences keep causing mutual conflict and disconnection:
After years of obstinate atheism and combative agnosticism, I’ve recently (and somewhat embarrassingly!) joined a church. It’s different, though, than the church I grew up in: it’s tolerant, open, inquisitive, and more socially and economically progressive than many Christian churches I’ve encountered. I truly believe it is helping me to live a good life. Although I’ve been able to share this fact with my friends who knew me in my Richard Dawkins phase (hangdog look in tow), I’m struggling to communicate what’s going on in my life with my mother, sister, and brother. It’s strange, because they’re the ones who are professed Christians. (Click here to read the rest of the letter and my response.)
What are the tough topics in your life right now? Where might you benefit from speaking more from your heart? If you’re having a conflict with someone, or there are areas of your life that feel stuck, or you wish you could figure out how to take more risks or be more gentle with yourself or figure out what would make your life feel more meaningful, I’m here to help. Contact me to schedule your free 30-minute phone consultation. Reach out for the support you need, so you can open your heart and your life to its fullest potential.
With love and empathy,