GRACE PRINCIPLE FOUR: It's okay to express exactly what you want.
KEY PRACTICE: thanking the no..
We all know that consent is important in any environment where touch takes place. But saying consent is important does not mean that people have access to their yes or no. Does their yes really mean yes? Does their no really mean no? And will people have access to verbally express a desire to change what is happening? We have a difficult relationship with "no" in our culture. Saying no to someone often means a partial or complete loss of connection. We have the word "no" entangled with rejection. We are either afraid that our no will cause others to pull away (reject us), or afraid that the others will take our no as rejection or criticism of them. We're afraid that a no, or even a request for something different, will short circuit the moment, the interaction. And if it is in a group setting, it might feel like saying no will cause rejection of the group (peer pressure of everyone being a yes but me). In our culture it is common for what seems like a yes, the consent to proceed, becoming endurance instead, as a result of holding inside a more authentic, unspoken no. And endurance leads to the very thing we were afraid the no would lead to, because we will disassociate, or have angry thoughts, or be distracted, and lose the connection we wanted in the first place, while pretending all is well. So what is the key to encouraging authentic voice? How can I offer Grace to myself and others when our voice (our ability to say a no, or to make a request) is critically important to the depth and quality and safety of our connection? Very simply, by saying two very important words whenever someone expresses a yes, a no, or makes a request. Those two words are: Thank You! Gratitude for what is, is a fundamental quality of Grace. Even better than just a thank you is the phrase: "Thank you for taking care of yourself". There is beautiful honouring in these words. You are grateful for the other person keeping themselves safe. Their safety and sovereignty is important to you. You would not want them to feel unsafe in connection. You are taking care of them. And it means that you can likely give them something that they would enjoy even more. There is magic to a thank you in response to a no or any request. As you practice this you discover that giving someone a thank you for a no, even if there is part of you that doesn't feel thankful, will keep the connection alive instead of breaking it. And you will more deeply experience the magic when you are brave enough to say "no" and you receive a "thank you for taking care of yourself" in response. You will feel the Grace of being seen, heard and honoured, and instantly feel more empowered to say "no" then next time you are not sure about something. For all people coming into connection where touch is involved, gratitude for voice will create more trust in the authenticity of everyone's yes, their no, or their desire to change things for the better. Authenticity of voice, and more trusting connection, is ONLY encouraged in a container where graceful gratitude for voice is practiced. SAMPLES: A: Do you have any touch boundaries? B: Yes, I don't want you to touch my face. A: Thank you for taking care of yourself. B: Can you press more lightly on my arm? A: Yes, thank you, how's this pressure. B: Much better. A: Thank you for guiding me. B: I need you to stop touching me. A: Thank you for taking care of yourself. (takes hands away) A: Let me know if you want me to touch you again, and how and where. B: Yes I will, thank you. B: Ooh! I don't like having my feet touched lightly. A: Thank you. Would they enjoy firmer touch? B: Okay, let's try that.. A: Thank you. How's this? B: Can you stop moving your hand please. A: Yes, thank you. Keep guiding me. Shall I just hold it still? B: Thank you, yes, maybe put your hand a little lower with a bit more pressure. A: Thank you for taking care of yourself. B: Can you move to the other side of me? A: Yes, thank you. (moving to other side) B: Thank you. A: Keep guiding me. How is this touch for pressure? B: Good, thank you. B: I'm feeling really emotional right now. (crying) A: Thank you for letting me know. I am happy to be with your emotions. B: Can you get some Kleenex for me? A: Yes, thank you, I'll be right back. A: How is the speed of my touch? Would you like it slower or faster? B: Maybe slower. A: Thank you. (slowing hand speed) B: That's good, thank you.
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