When people say “don’t judge yourself, love yourself, don’t compare yourself,” it’s not that easy. Positive affirmations are helpful and create good vibrations but just graze the surface if we mechanically repeat them without going deeper. The root to unweed is violence. Did you ever entertain that comparison of yourself or others and categorization as good or bad are small acts of violence? What would a world without good and bad be like? A world without duality? Isn’t it thrilling to think of the freedom? The space to just exist.
What follows is a practical application of this principle of non-violence. It’s fitting that the key to more effective communication and richer, more fulfilling lives rests on a foundation of compassion and play. What I share is derived and extracted from a recent re-read of Nonviolent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg.
Head: “I’m so much better than you.” What motivates you to judge something to be so? Even within your chosen circle, there are people just a fraction different than you. Does that then mean that they deserve your judgement? – organized, sloppy, loyal, flakey … You don’t have to judge Anyone because by nature, no two people are exactly alike. Therefore, everyone either deserves your judgement or Nobody does. So what’s the point of categorizing? To keep you feeling separate and isolated from people you think you love and thinking you are better than everyone else? Is your judgement life-enhancing or life-contracting? Remembering and recognizing that categorization only serves to bind and separate us, hopefully helps create a bit more freedom in your head.
Heart: “I don’t want your pity.” What motivates you to do something for others? What would you like someone’s motivation to be in doing something for you? I’m sure it’s not fear, obligation, guilt, or shame. They are the opposite of love, and these intentions definitely diminish the action. What if the sole motivation behind our actions was to enhance eachothers’ lives? Nothing you said or did would be uncompassionate to you or to others. Life would be play.
Likewise, when we punish/reward certain behaviors we influence the motivation. It’s no longer purely to enhance life, but taints it with conditional emotions. Also, when we use the word “should,” we infuse an action with a sense of obligation and take the fun out of it. We are autonomous beings and will actively avoid being told or expected to do something – even if the voice is in our own head.
So this is the foundation of non-violence: an unbridled mind without categories and an open, willing heart. Now the easy but critical part – the language formula. It’s actually a little awkward to implement at first and takes practice as we get used to communicating so clearly. However, it will save you in a difficult conversation with friends, a spouse, and children, and it will diminish negative self-talk so that you will indeed fall in love with yourself and your life.
The 4 Step Language Formula:
1) State your feelings. Not “I feel you are irresponsible,” which is more of thought, than a feeling. But actual feelings, such as “I feel disappointed, fearful, ashamed etc.” Take responsibility for your feelings as “I feel,” not “you make me feel.” Nobody makes you feel anything.
2) State your unmet need. Be vulnerable and speak from the heart. “I feel frustrated, because I have a need to be punctual.” Not “I feel ____ because you are always late.” Use “because I” followed by your need, versus “because you.”
3) Request “offer” an action. Clearly request what you would like to occur in meeting your needs to enrich your experience of life, and surrender the action without attachment to whether it happens or not. “I feel disappointed, because I have a need to be punctual. It would really enhance my experience of the evening if we were on time. It would mean a lot to me if you would consider being ready 15min early for our next outing.”
No one is obligated to do something for you, besides we want people, even children, to want to do something for us rather than feel they have to “or else!” So, if it doesn’t happen next weekend, don’t be upset. At least you were crystal clear and compassionately vocal, and thereby probably saved yourselves a fight moving from a simmer to an explosion. We want to give others multiple opportunities to meet our needs because they truly want to make life more wonderful for us. Honor their freedom, and they will find a way to honor you in a way you voiced to meaningful to you.
4) Ask for confirmation of understanding. Ask them to reiterate back to you what they just heard you say to ensure your feelings, needs, and request were heard clearly. Keep trying patiently till you hear back what you communicated. This is an important part, because there is often room for interpretation in someone’s mind when information is being filtered by past experience of a similar situation. They may state back to you “You’re telling me you’re fed up, because I’m always late and that I’m such a failure taking away from your evening’s experience. Well, you need to chill out!” As you can see, this is indeed not what you said and there is alot of opportunity to reach a more compassionate understanding.
The same process can be used to translate back what you hear other people feeling, needing, and requesting. It will greatly enhance your sense of communion in conversation. In such a manner, people finally feel understanding and empathy. Such empathy can mean the difference between violence and peace or connection and isolation, on a household and global-political scale.
There you have it. I wrote this piece for me as well as you. I want to remember nonviolence in its tiniest manifestation, practice it with my thoughts and language, and move forward with a sense of freedom and play. Don’t we all? Let’s work to enrich eachothers’ lives and our own. Do nothing that doesn’t feel like play.
This content is intended for educational purposes only.