Getting Hearts and Words into Alignment

Last week, I shared the story of how my teenage daughter responded to a heartfelt apology from me with:

“Whatever. I don’t care.”

And how I totally wanted to be like, “Whatever, I don’t care either.”  (But, I do.) 

Followed by, “When someone apologizes to you that is NOT the correct reaction.”  (Because educating and one-upping feels better than sitting in the muck.) 

But, I managed to hold myself back and instead refocused on ways of building connection instead of leading with judgments.

This week is about an insight that she articulated beautifully for me:  

When we debriefed later that day about what had happened for each of us, she explained:   “Mom, when you apologized I honestly thought ‘Awwww that is so nice of her!’  My head and my heart jumped for joy, but my mouth didn’t follow.” (And then she made a playfully sad and mournful face).

My heart melted.

You know that place where your head and heart may be jumping with joy, but your mouth is just not following suit yet?

I do.

At those times, one part of me is softening and wanting to shift to connection, but another scared and rigid part of me holds onto the anger and wants to provoke more conflict.  

I sometimes let my hurts and fears lead the way and continue to respond in defended, guarded and avoidant ways - even when a larger part of me is feeling better and wants to shift towards connection.  Getting these parts to catch up with each other takes awareness and courage.

But, bringing my words into alignment with my heart, helps me live from courage and empowerment instead of fear and defense. I have made it a practice to develop the habit of softening over hardness, melting over iciness, and speaking from the heart instead of continuing to defend and provoke.

The next time you find yourself at a crossroads where your head and heart are jumping for joy, but your mouth isn’t quite caught up yet, you can practice new, connection-based, relational responses:

You could play with phrases like this (even if just to yourself in your head…):

I can feel my heart softening towards you, and I am also not fully trusting your words yet …

I’m conflicted between both softening towards you while simultaneously wanting to guard and defend against being hurt….

I feel like I am stuck between two impulses - wanting to shift into more connection with you while also wanting to keep fighting with you …

Naming a present moment inner truth to yourself and others has the power to shift you in the direction of connection and softening.  Practice: it's empowering! 

I’d love to hear from you:

  • Have you experienced your heart jumping for joy while your mouth continued to defend and disconnect?
  • What has helped you shift back to connection?
  • Continue the conversation with me on Facebook or comment below!

Relationships are the foundation of well-being. Join me in bringing more empathy, acceptance, and service into the world.