I was recently not in the best of spirits. I really appreciated the care shown by a friend, who called to find out how I was doing and made arrangements to meet in a healing nature area. How thoughtful!

However my friend tried to shift my mind to connect to what was positive. Hm…I wasn’t ready for this although I usually have a positive way of looking at the world…then I was asked why I hadn’t shared what I was facing with some specific people in my life…this didn’t work for me either. By this time, my pain started hiding from this friend…an opportunity for real emotional intimacy was lost…

I am now reflecting on when I may have done the same to others. When have I jumped in with ideas or suggestions too soon when all my friend needed was a warm hug, holding her hand or sacred silence? Yes, I have sometimes forgotten to respond from the heart. And I am reminded of a process I learned some time ago through a tele-seminar with Kate Marsh, a Virtues Project facilitator. It’s called Companioning.

When we companion, we never ask “why?”.  We use open-ended cup emptying questions starting with “What” and “How”. We always end with a Virtues Acknowledgment, which helps to restore someone who has been vulnerable enough to share openly. – The Virtues Project

To me, the most critical part is the cup-emptying element, especially when I am asked, “What’s most painful? or “What’s the hardest part?”It allows me to bring out to the surface, the deepest part of my pain/grief/anger etc.

I would be more open to suggestions, ideas, or potential lessons for me to learn only after I first feel that my feelings and needs are heard and in some instances, have had some time to heal.

I can see that my friend was just being caring and helpful and I really appreciate that and still love my friend dearly.  However I am also reminded that processes such as Companioning and Nonviolent Communication are intimate, caring, gentle yet powerful ways for us to connect with others so that they feel emotionally safe to be vulnerable with us. We can also use these processes on ourselves. Such processes are not often taught in school – it’s important that we educate our hearts ourselves so we can nurture more loving relationships.

Related: Please see The Virtues Card app