I was stuck in an emotional funk and I couldn’t get out of it. My son and I had just had a heated conflict while playing ping pong. A fight during play! My husband stepped in to facilitate a calmer conversation. It helped both of them move on, but not me.
They begged me to come play with them again. Play? No way. Sitting at the kitchen table, every part of me felt heavy. I was mad at them for moving on, and upset with myself for not being able to move on, potentially ruining our entire night.
The longer I sat though, I began to see the faint outlines of my old wounds creating this cascade of emotion. The faint outlines got filled in with memories, and I started to soften inside, relieved to discover the deeper source of my upset. I realized that my husband’s attempts to heal our conflict were well intended but superficial. I couldn’t move on until there was enough safety in my family to share my vulnerability and receive theirs.
The light bulb went on: The Talking Stick!
“The talking stick is a tool used in many Native American traditions when a council is called. It allows all council members to present their Sacred Point of View. The talking stick is passed from person to person as they speak and only the person holding the stick is allowed to talk during that time period.”
I highly recommend this as a tool for you and those you love. When tensions are high, it’s difficult, sometimes impossible, to engage in conscious conversation without fear, defensiveness, and hidden agendas. The talking stick gives us a structure which supports everyone to bring mindful intention and attention to the situation, knowing that there will be reciprocity in sharing and listening. Mindful listening opens us, keeps us curious, reducing shame and judgement. It’s empowering for all.
Here’s what happened for me on this night:
We gathered in the family room and began. As we passed around the talking stick, we each took the opportunity to share about our experience of the conflict and listened with full presence. When it was my turn, I shared how my family never played together and sometimes in our threesome, I really don’t know how. Tears streamed down my face as I revealed how playing together actually brings up painful memories and confusion. I apologized for how my wounds were getting in the way of being a loving ally and playmate.
My husband and son not only listened, they offered me empathy, compassion, and affection. They were deeply moved by my sharing, and I was deeply moved by their response. When our sharing was done, I was totally out of my funk. I felt clear, cleansed, energized, and reconnected. A piece of healing had occurred.
We got up from the sofa and played!