Relational Discernment and Depth of Connection

Apr 24, 2024 | 0 comments

relational discernment
[Photo credit: photokip]

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about relationships—with ourselves, friends, family members, the earth, and our more-than-human kin. It seems that the older we get (especially if we’re engaged in healing work), the less tolerance we have for obligatory appearances, friendships that have turned into texts check-ins, and experiences that leave us feeling disconnected from our True Nature.

As I lean into curiosity, exploring concepts that I once kept at a distance (like intentional grieving), I notice how much mental capacity, emotional labor, and spiritual energy it takes to stay at the surface or fake it altogether.

As a high-conscious, double Scorpio entering mid life, my mantra has become, “We’re going deep, or not at all.” Luckily, my partner and closest friends value meaningful connection, integrity, truth, healing, and communion. I guess it’s similar to the quasi-ultimatum I gave my mother 20 years ago—that the two of us go to therapy together to repair the gossamer that was our relationship, or we would part ways. She opted for the latter, and I’ve come to recognize her clarity as a gift. More about that in the book.

Some people either do not want to heal or do not believe they deserve to be well. While shame can be one of the most powerful self-evaluative emotions, it’s also not our responsibility to persuade or convince someone of what’s best for them. And we definitely cannot do the work for someone we love because as much as we want them to heal, they have to want it more than we do.

Expanding our consciousness allows us to reprogram—or, more accurately, deprogram—the societal conformities that have made us feel small, stuck, and silent. This is especially true for women and gender nonconforming people like me. In that process of worldview deconstruction, we can begin to see all of the ways in which we’ve historically traded self-abandonment for politeness and conformity.

Aside from my relationship with my mother, I have edged out and ended a few friendships that were no longer values-aligned. The longevity of any relationship should not be considered more important than its quality. How often do we celebrate staying married for 25 or 50 years but never inquire about the growth and healing—or lack thereof—that the container held?

When we realize that life is about moments of awe, unending curiosity, and experiencing the full spectrum of human emotion, it’s easier to create healthy boundaries to honor the precious nature of our time and how we choose to experience life going forward.

Communing with nature, engaging in solo and group rituals, and living “all in” are paving the way for some of the most important relationships in my middle-of-life era.

I’m doing book readings and signings of HEAL to LEAD barefoot and in plant shops across the country because that grounds me while I’m modeling vulnerability in leadership. In fact, I’m barefoot more often these days around my home and in my gardens because my relationship with the earth is quickly becoming a priority (and because a beautiful human invited me into this practice, and I said yes). I’m also developing new relationships with some of my wise and benevolent ancestors in my lineage because I want to know more deeply the peaceful people from whom I have descended; I want to know more about them, and I want to learn from them.

When creating new relationships with new humans, I’m open yet more discerning than ever before. I have good reason to be because my identities and my work in the world act like a mirror for those who don’t want to see themselves.

I trust my intuition, and I follow it—another side effect of trauma integration. When someone feels like home or a unicorn, I double down on my investment. It should go without saying (but I will anyway)—that goes for earth, too.

Tending the land and the various gardens surrounding my home feels nurturing and nourishing. It’s a relationship where reciprocity is never more present. And it’s become a model for how I want to tend to all of my other relationships.


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Kelly L. Campbell

Kelly (they/she) is a Trauma-Informed Leadership Coach to emerging and established leaders who know they are meant for more. She is a keynote speaker on the intersection of trauma, leadership, and consciousness—the new TLC—and founder of Consciousness Leaders, the world’s most diverse speaker’s agency. They are the author of HEAL to LEAD: Revolutionizing Leadership through Trauma Healing (Wiley).


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