Tuesday, June 14, 2011


As a society we sanction those who have gone against our norms (criminals) by sending them to jail. We take away their ability to make choices, to be autonomous in their actions. Someone else is in charge. And it's not something that is enjoyable to live life like that. 

I have been continuing my training in non-violent communication and have recently become more aware of how wonderful it is to have the ability and the right to make informed choices for myself. We live in a society where there is a great amount of personal freedom but many people live in jails of their own making. Feeling a general sense of malaise but not able to identify it or act on it. 

I had been struggling with a concept that underlies NVC which is the intention with which we approach our relationships with our own self and others. Essentially this intention is one of benevolence and welcome for all that we experience whether comfortable or uncomfortable. The understanding is that becoming aware of all the different thoughts and feelings we or the other person have and accepting them helps us to identify the underlying needs. 

Most of us become aware of uncomfortable thoughts or feelings and move to quickly eliminate them. The first step is to become aware of the judgmental or distorted thoughts or the uncomfortable feelings. Most people don't even get to this level. But once you are aware what do you do? When you have decided to approach life from a perspective of NVC you create internal space for these experiences and ask yourself what they are telling you about your underlying needs.

A part of me experienced a great deal of discomfort with this because I had a belief that acceptance meant that everything goes and all options are open, I discover 10 different needs and now I have to meet them all. However I now see that acceptance is not about everything goes, it's about allowing yourself to become aware of what is going on, not fighting it. Once you have accepted and allowed uncomfortable experiences to play out without becoming submerged by them you start to develop a greater sense of what is right for you based on your knowledge of who you are and what you really want and need in life. Becoming aware of all the different needs we have is an exercise in taking responsibility.  You recognize and acknowledge all the different parts of yourself and then make a choice based on the most accurate data available. It's true that there is abundance, millions of strategies and knowing this is freedom. It's also true that in life we make choices. The NVC process helps me make choices that respect myself because I know exactly what I am saying yes to and what I am saying no to. If I say yes to my need to relax and play today I may be saying no to my needs for order because I am not cleaning my house. However I can acknowledge this and make plans to take care of my need for order at a later date when I am ready to say yes to order and no to play. I am not playing while feeling guilty about not cleaning the house. I have acknowledged both my desire to play and my desire for a clean house and decided that play is my priority for the moment. 

I am discovering how NVC can help me to make choices and take more responsibility for my life and I cherish the feelings of calm, peacefulness and power that emerge when I make choices based on knowing as much about my needs and other peoples needs as possible. 

It's midnight and I am writing this because I feel a need to contribute but now I want to say yes to sleep.