Speak Eagle

7 Steps to Handle the Tension of Inauguration Weekend

In my last blog post, “11 Upside-Down New Year’s Resolutions,” the final resolution was “SCARED- Because then you might be trying something that feels waaaay bigger than you.” I’ve heard from many of you that you are tackling something big this year. From moving across the country to starting a new business, we are all living “on the edge of our growth” (I love that phrase!) And that can feel a bit scary.

What I’m about to do this weekend feels waaaay bigger than me.

us flag photoSome of you have been following my journey with Kellie Newton- my liberal, Hillary-voting, non-theist friend in Seattle who suggested last November that she and I host a workshop together one day where we teach people how to hold the tension of disagreement, learn to ask curious questions, and listen with empathy.

Well, our first workshop is upon us. This Friday, Inauguration Day, my blue-state friend will bravely fly into red-state territory. And then, on Saturday the 21st at 7pm at the Nolensville Town Hall, she and I will host our first-ever workshop together. (If you live in the area and would like to come, send me an email at heidi@drheidipetak.com!)

It’s not just a workshop, however, it’s a movement we are calling the Heart Perception Project – aimed at helping all of us learn how to see, hear, and respond to those FB Bannerwith whom we disagree in a new way. A way that creates heart connections on the basis of story and empathy. To release our agendas to accuse or justify or change each other and learn to truly listen and understand.

For the past few months, Kellie and I have been recording our conversations through Zoom and posting them on YouTube. As a Turtle who avoids conflict at all cost, as you have read in a few of my previous blog posts, this all has been a terrifying endeavor, and because it’s terrifying, I know it’s exactly where God is teaching me to trust Him, right “on the edge of my growth.”

So, how about you? With the glaring crevasse in the middle of our national political landscape, how are you feeling about Inauguration Weekend coming up? If you feel tense, here are 5 steps to help you navigate your tension:

  1. Be aware-  Scan your own heart, mind, and body to be aware of how you are feeling and how your current state could be affecting the way you are communicating with others.
  2. Breathe-  As you become aware of tension, breathe. As you breathe, allow God to fill you with His hope.
  3. Exercise- Walking or another form of exercise helps our bodies handle tension in healthy and productive ways.
  4. Be curious-  Ask curious questions of others, not loaded questions, about how they are feeling and the tension they may be carrying.
  5. Reflect back what they share, so they know you heard and understood.
  6. Share from your heart- Share your own emotions (anxious, sad, afraid, glad, etc.). When possible, share in the form of a story so that your sharing has the potential to connect with the heart of the other person.
  7. Express value- In your conversations let others know you value them despite any difference in opinion.

Learning to be self-aware and to see and hear others in a loving way is right on the edge of our growth for all of us. We have communicated from a place of fear for so long. Now, our families, our neighborhoods, communities, and our nation are desperate for help to navigate the tension we all feel. For me, my hope is that the Heart Perception Project will lead the way in helping us, especially those of us who claim to follow Jesus, learn to put on “compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience” (Col. 3).

Friends and professionals have begun to join us who also feel passionate about helping people learn to communicate in healthy ways during this tense season in our country. If you are one of them, let me know!  I would love to have a conversation with you.

For a video recap of my initial conversation with Kellie, watch this:

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