In all wisdom traditions and religions, the principle of choosing thoughtful speech is highly emphasized. We have all experienced the poisonous effect of being talked about or spoken to in a hurtful way and have also dished out our fair share of harmful words. When patients are processing painful sexual experiences (or any experience) with each other or attempting to connect with their partners in sharing their sexual preferences (or any preference) and desires, the use of language becomes a battleground that misplaces the deepest need to feel heard. So let’s take a look into a method that has a very potent power to transform very encumbered patterns of sound to healing tones of connection and intimacy.
Marshall Rosenberg, author of Non-Violent Communication, has forged a style of communication in which the power struggle that typical ensues in tough dialogue that is emotional charged, is distilled down to four components. They are observations, feelings, needs and requests. Embedded in all communication is a need to be understood. Yet often our approach and unskilled methods get us just the opposite.
Our capacity to observe a situation that arises with openness and compassion is the first gateway toward connection. If in our observation we close down in fear and anxiety, we will contract an observation into a self-centered analysis that has lost contact with the present moment. If we stay open to the moment with a sky-like observation and speak words that bring a large perspective, we’ve crossed into this gateway of I want to hear you from my heart, not my head.
As we then encounter this observation and "feel into it" expressing our feelings with a thoughtful kindness, the second door opens deeper toward connection. Within the feelings that surface, we brush the delicate human condition of need. As we descend into the human condition, we meet a need that has a desire to be met with understanding. From this space, we make a request for that need to be met. When expressed with honesty and is received by the listener with empathy, couples will make contact with intimacy, which ultimately brings them face to face with their spirit.
Words are like a fuel that can burn in the hearts of our beloved with either potent understanding and passion or to harm their well-being. From moment to moment, the choice is ours. With the application of mindfulness to our speech, we enter a gateway toward connection or toward destruction. If your life reflects a flourishing and nourishing intimate connection, then know you are fueling one another’s heart with love. If your life reflects poor communication, then know that you have been fueling yours and another’s heart with suffering. Non-violent communication is the antidote to such suffering.
In the words of Lao Tze, “Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habit. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.”
Sherri Aikin is a Fellow of Integrative Medicine, Nurse Practitioner, Sex Counselor, Mindfulness Facilitator, and Life Coach.
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