Remembering our humanness is where our freedom lies.
Spring is upon us here in the Midwest. After the twists and turns of this past winter, I hope all of you are getting a chance to welcome the return of light and warmth.
Today, I want to speak to the trend of valuing productivity, efficiency, busy-ness, and impeccable performance that we've been seeing in our culture for some time. How do you notice these themes showing up for you in your life? Do they effect the expectations you have of yourself, and those that others have of you?
Many of the aforementioned qualities are valuable things, of which our society is well aware. But what happens when we forget to hold these values in relationship with other qualities? What happens when those values hold dominion over others like connection, rest, play, and humility?
As our culture has become more rooted in productivity and performance, and our fascination with technology has grown, I wonder if, on a certain level, many of us have forgotten what we are. Many of us are trying to stay competitive so we work long hours without rest or nourishment. When we feel grumpy, sick, or impatient, frustration with ourselves mounts because it gets in the way of our "to do list". I mean, "Why can't we just get over it already?!" So we often push through the feelings, tiredness, or pain, hoping it will clear up on its own. We tell ourselves, if only we do better, the "problem" will go away.
If you find yourself grappling through a similar process, I'm here to remind you today that you are NOT a robot! There is so much more to you than how much you can accomplish, and how "good" you are at what you do, and how few errors you make. We are not designed to be productive. We are meant to live.
We are human. To be human is to be dynamic. We feel. Some days we are in a funk. Some days we feel so much joy we think we might burst. There are days where we can fly through the things we wish to accomplish. There are days when we lay on the couch and binge watch Netflix, or just goof around with the kids, eat pancakes, and nothing gets done.
I say all this, so you remember its okay to go easier on yourself. Maybe we are more efficient, and effective, when we allow ourselves the room to experience the messy, and beautiful aspects of life that don't fit neatly into our box, that sometimes throw the whole agenda askew. Perhaps, it's worth finding out.
How are you going to embrace your humanness today?
P.S. Share about your experience with productivity, expectations, and honoring your humanness below. I look forward to hearing from you.
Everything we communicate can be boiled down to a "please" or a "thank you".
Over the past couple years I have been studying the practice of Nonviolent Communication (it also goes by the names Compassionate, or Conscious Communication). This way of connecting was originally shared by Marshall Rosenberg in the 1970s. As the teachings begin to sink in more deeply for me and replace old habits of communicating, I have been humbled by the healing power of this approach, and I wanted to share some of the juicy nuggets of wisdom with you.
The core tenets focus on identifying how we are feeling, uncovering the universal human need underneath it, and then offering empathy for any unmet needs.
Come on a journey with me as we explore this.
For a few moments take nice deep breathes and connect with your body. Tune into what feelings are alive within you.
Some examples are: content, relaxed, exhausted, frustrated, sad, joyful, disappointed, lonely, intriqued, calm, happy, inspired, anxious, torn, overwhelmed, confused, scared, ashamed, impatient, numb, angry, grateful, encouraged, vulnerable, etc.
Note: If something like "I feel so taken advantage of!" comes up, this is a thought and interpretation, not a feeling. In such a case, might you be feeling angry, indignant, sad, disappointed, etc? Acknowledge the presence of the thought, and try to to redirect yourself to the feeling that is within the thought.
Have you identified at least one to three feelings that resonate for you? There may be more, and they may seem contradictory. That is okay. Write these feelings down if it is helpful for you.
In Marshall Rosenberg's work, he says that feelings that are pleasant are a sign that a universal human need is being met, whereas feelings that are unpleasant are a sign of an unmet need within us. When we communicate with others in this space our words convey either a "please": help me meet this need for _________; or a "thank you": celebrate with me, my need for _________ has been met.
Now, let's take a moment to explore what needs may be underneath the feelings you identified. These universal human needs in their essence enhance our quality of life. Here are some examples of needs: safety, acceptance, harmony, predictability, integrity, connection, equality, appreciation, love, self-expression, understanding, respect, clarity, help and support, community, trust, intimacy, meaning and purpose, security, celebration, structure, autonomy and choice, space, fun and play, to matter and belong, mourning, freedom, kindness, responsibility, etc.
Returning to our example of, "I feel so taken advantage of!" we see that there are perhaps feelings of indignation, disappointment, and vulnerability, possibly because the needs for respect, kindness, and appreciation were not met.
As you tune inward, what unmet needs might your feelings be pointing you toward? And conversely, if you are feeling well, what might needs might your feelings be indicating that are being met?
Once you have identified your needs, write them down with the feelings you have identified. Acknowledge within yourself that you are feeling _________ because you are needing _______________ (or your needs for ___________ have been met).
Now, comes the true opportunity for healing. As you hold these needs in your heart, feel or imagine what it would be like if these needs were met. What would the experience of "respect", for example, feel like in your body if you had it completely? Imagine that you can breathe that quality into your being simply by thinking it, as if all the molecules of oxygen that enter your body are infused with ________. Continue to breathe and soak the energy of this in for as long as you like.
So, how do you feel?
Share your experience in the comments or email to share with me privately.
To learn more, read Marshall Rosenberg's book Nonviolent Communication, or visit the Wisconsin Empathy Guild's website to connect with practice groups in the area.
Delight in Your Aliveness
The French have a term "joie de vivre", meaning a delight in being alive, a carefree enjoyment of life, or exultation of spirit. After facing some of my own "demons" over the last few months—a fear of loss, and death—I had the realization that an antidote for many of our fears is to live fully alive. Embrace the present moment for what it is, allow ourselves to be who we really are, follow the little (or perhaps strong) nudgings of our heart, love those in our life fully, and be willing to express that, and delight in the simple pleasures of life. If we allow ourselves to be all that we are, gracefully let go of what we are not, and let our day be guided by our inner joy, our fears dissolve.
Perhaps you will find it as the wind grazes your face, in the scent of blooming milkweed, from the kindness of a stranger, watching a child squeal with glee, making a step toward that trip you have always wanted to take, giving in to your soul's urging to pick up a cello and explore how the friction of the bow on strings produces pure sound, or picking up the phone to repair a relationship with a beloved.
My question for you is, how can you step into this joie de vivre in some way today? How can you allow yourself to be more fully You? If you feel inspired, practice this in a least a small way everyday.
Share how you personally cultivate joie de vivre in the comments below.
Reiki Master Teacher and Owner of Embrace Your Essence