Disclosure Trumps Withholding Part 2
Linda: Disclosure invites disclosure. There is no way to force someone to talk about himself or herself. We can only invite by taking risks ourselves. Enjoying the transparency of another is earned by building the trust to the point where the other knows that their revelations will be treated with great respect. And they trust into the certainty that their disclosures will be met with reciprocity with a similar depth and breath of disclosure.
If you’ve lived long enough, life has given you some aggravation, loss, betrayal, broken promises, exploitation, and suffering. No small part of it was in relationships with people who meant something to us, who could not hear us, see us, respect us, or really love us because of their own limitations. If we couldn’t see that the lack of fulfilling connection had a great deal to do with the other person, we may have decided that it was our feelings and the way that we expressed those feelings and needs that was the problem.
The only way to put a correction in is to begin to practice the art of revealing ourselves to those with whom we are closest. Our partner is the perfect place to begin. If we create a contract with them that this is our growing edge, and that we are making an alliance with them to be lab partners to become adept at intimate relating, they may be willing to enter into this joint project. It is an ideal agreement, where both partners are paying attention to their inner life, what’s working, what’s not working.
6 Steps to Becoming Transparent
We will create a contract with our partner to become lab partners, to practice straight talk to become adept at intimate relating.
We are in agreement that both of us commit to pay attention to our inner life, what’s irritating, aggravating, causing resentment, sadness, guilt, fear, joy and happiness, so that we can express our feelings and our needs.
Recognizing that sunlight is the best disinfectant, we will encourage open communication by welcoming even painful truths.
We would rather hear a difficult truth rather than have withholding, because we want to enjoy the maximum amount of trust available.
There are not subjects that are “no fly zones.” In other words every subject is open to exploration.
We are establishing a contract driven by an intention to heal, learn, and grow, so any truths that must be spoken are delivered with diplomacy, finesse and caring. If harmlessness is highest commitment, the kind and tactful way to deliver the message will become apparent.
Encouraging straight talk, by welcoming even painful truths being exposed, propels the relationship down the path of success. To explicitly invite honest communication encourages openness. The choice is present to make a declaration that we would rather hear a difficult truth than have it festering below the surface causing damage. Such an agreement by both parties encourages openness. If we are willing to tell the truth about what in our relationship isn’t working for us, perhaps even the part that really sucks for us, the revelation of that complaint can open up a whole new world of possibilities. The honesty is what allows us to address the real issues so that we can meet them head on, interrupt old patterns and experiment with new ones.
We have a vested interest in our partner’s success. If their needs are not being met, their unhappiness will have an impact on us. When we hold this truth in sharp focus, we want to do everything in our power to encourage their openness with us about any dissatisfaction they have about the relationship. It’s as if we make a contract with a major clause of, “Lets put in all on the table where we can see it and work with it.” Nothing is hidden becomes the guideline.
Benevolent feedback, which is input with an intention to learn and to heal, is welcome. When there is a spirit of good will to disclose difficult information. There should not be an intention to make the other person feel bad or inadequate, nor as an intention to dominate or get our way. A selfish agenda will tighten up the communication. Understanding and cooperation is the goal. Being willing to speak truth and staying open to hear truth are both prerequisites.
As we become more accomplished in expressing our inner feeling life, it is a natural step to begin speaking about our needs and preferences, our needs for touch, words of affirmation, sexual needs, and how we spend our time together, our needs for separate time, and to feel valued and special.
The practice has big payoffs, in the form of a deeper understanding of who we are, and who our partner is, that sweet feeling of being known and loved as we are, and the strong trust that we can speak about whatever is on our minds and on our hearts. It is tremendously freeing to deal with those difficult subjects that were once avoided because they seemed too dangerous. I once had a couple I worked with years ago that called those avoided areas “the no fly zones.”
The ultimate goal become having no areas that we can’t address in some fashion. It is likely that we will make numerous attempts to know each other, and find that a lot of feelings flush up because of the tender material there. But as the trust builds, the ease with which we can touch the formally taboo subjects increases.
With some topics, it may never actually get easy; it may regularly be daunting. But it is progress if we notice that there is a bit more breathing room, less fear and reactivity, and more understanding. The rawness of being on that edge of discovery of self and other is an acquired taste. It is a bit scary, because we are out there on those shaky branches; but the excitement, enthusiasm, aliveness, enjoyment, and vitality make it so worth the risk and effort. Don’t take my word for it; try it and find out from your own experience.
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