When we care about high-level attunement and co-regulation, the habit of cultivating wholeheartedness is a great tool to keep us on track.
I want to be wholehearted. This is my growing edge for 2024. I never want to be watching the clock waiting for something to be over. I want to be fully engaged. I want my relationships to be characterized by high-level attunement as much as possible and appropriate.
That means I have to cultivate some difficult choices. It means choosing to be fully present and engaged, where I am and with the people around me, or go be somewhere else. Like, do something about it. Choose different company, rest, a change of scene, or get some exercise.
Choosing wholeheartedness more often means risking hurting people’s feelings when I do not want to stay with them or with what we are doing. I may want to protect them from feeling rejected because I want them to like me, but if I stay when I am half-hearted, I invite numbness in. I invite them to think I am present when I am not fully present. I let both of us get accustomed to low-quality attunement.
I have to decide. Make a wholehearted choice to be where I am, or take action to choose something else. It is easier in the short term to keep the other person comfortable. However, in the long term settling for half-hearted presence is corrosive of attunement in the relationship and rather insulting if you consider the other a peer.
There are of course situations where wholeheartedness is not a safe choice. If the other person wields power over me and may abuse that power when they feel rejected, insulted, or ashamed, the choice to be half-hearted may be an essential safety factor. This has been and is the case in many oppressive situations including millennia of sexist heterosexual relationships.
Cultivating wholeheartedness does not mean we should punish ourselves or others for choosing distraction or dissociation when we are overwhelmed or in pain.
It is a balancing act: give yourself compassion and forgiveness so you can take good care of yourself and choose wholehearted engagement when you can.
I do not want to get comfortable with flat connections. My intention for 2024 is to cultivate wholeheartedness … it is only February and this is deeply edgy. At least I am not bored! Want to join me?