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.
Here in the United States, election season is in full swing. As debates and interviews air, articles release, and opinions are displayed on social media, chances are you feel a mix of emotions: fear, concern, frustration, judgement of those with other views, righteousness, hope for something better, a desire to do something, ambivalence, hopelessness, etc.
Regardless of your political stance, the dynamics that are at play in our country give us each a chance to look at ourselves more deeply. What we see playing out between the candidates, their parties, and supporters mirrors the conflicts that occur within our own mind. As human beings, we all have a tendency to get caught up in blame games (making others wrong, and punishing ourselves with guilt for things we have done). We can inflate ourselves as a protective mechanism, so others do not see our faults, and insecurities. We dwell on the past. We divide ourselves into Us verses Them, making one group the good guys, and the other the enemy.
As many of the collective energies are feeding off of these divisive dynamics, how can we shift to a more aware space, and perhaps even heal? The key begins with embracing our humanness, our vulnerability. In order to really connect with ourselves, and then in turn with each other, we must be authentically honest, and real. What is underneath our desires? Can we gracefully and compassionately acknowledge the mistakes we have made in our life, and allow others forgiveness for theirs? Are we willing to see that at the core of our views, the vast majority of us have a need to feel safe, cared for, and loved?
When we give ourselves the safe place to truly acknowledge all parts of ourselves, those we like, those we don't, and those that we pretend aren't even there, we create ripe space to transform. We start to see more clearly what things really are. We begin to connect. We begin to listen with willingness and respect. We begin to heal.
No matter what you are feeling now, are you willing to allow compassion to seep in for yourself? How would that look, feel, or sound for you?
Share your thoughts of how you are cultivating compassion during this election session here.
If you would like support in this process, feel free to schedule a session with me.
We are all in this together,
Offer compassion first to yourself.
Today, I want to share with you the Buddhist practice of Metta (loving-kindness). This is a mantra or offering that you first extend to yourself:
May I be safe.
May my true needs be fulfilled.
May I have food to eat, warm clothes, and a safe place to sleep.
May I be happy.
May I develop unconditional happiness.
May I taste the nectar of flow in all activity, expansion, and contraction.
May I be healthy.
May I be resilient in the face of challenge.
May I be aware of my own limits and respect them.
May I be peaceful.
May I be at ease, awake, and relaxed.
May I be a friend toward myself and towards all beings.
You may simplify the mantra to just the first phrases of each verse if you like. Once you have extended the loving kindness toward yourself, you may choose to then offer it to your loved ones, then acquaintances, then people you feel neutral towards, then "enemies", and finally to all of creation.
I hope this practice brings you comfort, and helps soften any parts of you that are needing extra care. Even if you only offer this practice towards yourself, remember you are doing a great service to the world. Often we are the ones we need to receive the compassion from the most.
Reiki Master Teacher and Owner of Embrace Your Essence