So much of how we understand the world right now is in terms of "scarcity", and the idea that "there aren't resources to care for everyone's needs". One of the most radical - and perhaps very diffiult to digest for me - in both Nonviolent Communication and sublimewe, is the idea of abundance, the idea that there is enough for each of us to be taken care of.
This is something I am still negotiating and on some says it is really hard to believe this, especially when I think of an object, or a service, or some form of care or self-care, that I am really longing for, which I am not in the position to pay for as of now. Often this happens when I am attached to a strategy; if, for example, I imagine that my need for care can only be met through a nice long massage or a holiday in the hills (and oh, how I do long for both!). But when I step away from my chosen strategies and open myself up to new ways of receiving, I usually find that there is enough.
Today is one such day, where I was short of handy cash. Someone standing next to me in line for coffee offered to pay, with a total refusal of "reciprocity", as I understand it. She had a preference for me passing on the favour to someone else: a currency of Generosity, perhaps.
I am still not sure how this negotiates with real world problems like poverty and food "shortage" (or misdirection). But this experience gives me much to tihnk about today. For today, I can say this with greater belief and sureness: "I am taken care of. I am enough. I have enough."
Have you ever experienced exchanges in the currency of Generosity?
Image credits: Buzzquotes
Conflict is quite exhausting - not the actual solving of it, so much as holding onto it, and clinging to anger and irritation. It serves the interest of holding onto conflict to make my "enemy" a "non-person" - a being who looks human but does not have feelings or needs, and who operates in a paradigm people's actions are aimed towards hurting one another.
It is so much easier to form an enemy image of someone I am not seeing. Indeed, seeing a person like an "enemy" is really not seeing them at all, but seeing a part of yourself that is wounded, angry and hurt. In the absence of connection, touch, actual tangible sight, it is easier to believe that a person is my enemy, less than the sum of their parts and defined only by the thing that hurts or wounds me.
Truly seeing another person and trying to believe they are the enemy is a lot more difficult, because then I start to see the common humanness between the "other" and me. It is easy to say things like: "My enemy is really nasty and has no consideration for anyone." It is, on the other hand, far more difficult - to the point of being ridiculous - to say: "My enemy is really exhausted and needs some rest." And it is especially difficult to do this when I have huge emotions and unmet needs.
Can you think of an "enemy"? It could be a person or a whole group of people. What happens when you look at them and think about what you have in common? Is it easy to hold onto the idea that this is a "bad person" who is your "enemy", or does it become a struggle?
According to the list of needs compiled by CNVC, one of our core needs is that of mourning. Seems almost a bit counter–intuitive, doesn't it, the idea that human beings – and indeed, ALL human needs everywhere, as far as the paradigm of Compassionate Communication is concerned – NEED mourning.
Nearly everything in our bodies, minds, hearts and environments (in most countries, anyway), ask us to shift away from mourning – to embrace joy to create more joy, to speak to the universe in strong, positive and open terms to receive beauty in bounteous ways. Mourning also brings up connotations of grief and bereavement, which in death-denying cultures (indeed, sometimes I sense the idea is more to be “death DEFYING”) is a strong, almost institutionalised sort of denial and avoidance.
So why is mourning a need?
Earlier this week I had posted something harvesting gratitude and celebrating met needs. To my mind, it is very natural, while having gratitude and celebrating, to mourn needs that have not been met. A practice of gratitude may not truly be complete without a space for mourning. Perhaps because in every moment we choose – one act over another, one meal over another, one conversation over another, and so on.
During the NVC India Conventions, facilitators warn against "MMS" – the Might Miss Something disease, which threatens to drive one into a frenzy over making choices. We make choices all the time, and by nature of the choices, we miss SOMETHING. It is not often that I can choose something that meets some needs without "losing out" on other needs that may have been met in another situation. Even when I am in a situation that is causing me great pain, I am making a choice to be there.
For example: Today morning, I sat down and decided to write this little blog post – meeting my needs for self-care, expression and learning (amongst others). At the same time, by choosing this, I have so far:
I can find other ways of meeting the needs I've so far not met today – I could call my dad later (and I will, beware Baba!), I could cook after I finish and I could also nap through the afternoon (feeling a warm ripple of peaceful humming joy at that idea!).
However, for me to make a conscious decision, though, it supported me to have three minutes of connection with myself right now to see what it is I'm missing, to really ask myself: “What is it that I am longing for?”
Mourning, on a moment by moment basis, has the potential to create an awareness and spaciousness inside me to support myself in being more fulfilled in the day.
I also see my unmet needs as little puppies yammering for attention. The danger of ignoring these puppies is that over time, without connection and some minor Band–Aid–like action (such as stretching my body out for some rest and ease, or sending my dad a small note on Facebook to say "Hello, will call you in a bit!", and so on), those puppies become hungry, raging, rabid monsters. Have you ever burned out and snapped at someone from an unmet need for rest? (I do it all the time, to my regret!)
When I do not mourn my unmet need and responsibility for meeting it – by actively staying with my mourning and feeling all the sad and angry feelings, thinking all those scary thoughts, and really connecting with myself over what I want – then I am more likely to be violent in my words, thoughts, actions and behaviour, with myself as well as with others.
This is one aspect of mourning – the day-to-day, moment-to-moment checking in, connecting, and creating space for more gratitude and compassion in my inner and outer world.
Inner Mourning – Grief and Bereavement
The other aspect of mourning I want to look at is perhaps a bit more complicated: mourning for a loved one, someone who has passed away. Perhaps similar thoughts could also apply to a lost dream or a lost opportunity.
Grief and bereavement has been a companion in my life – albeit a neglected companion thanks to how I have looked at grief (as something to be intellectually understood and not really felt). Grief is huge and the prospect "feeling grief" is on the whole terrifying. This might explain the elaborate ways in way people can try to not feel it. For me, understanding and dealing with mourning on this level has been a struggle, both conceptually and palpably, in my own practice.
As I write this, now, I am also suddenly aware that this is also not the first time I've written about it (links below). Clearly, I'm still thinking and learning about it. In the context of Mourning and NVC, I only have a few thoughts.
This kind of mourning transforms us – Ashley Davis Bush talks about this a lot – and there's no getting away from that. In that, there is a need here to mourn the person and aspects of one's being that have left us with the loved one – on one level for understanding and acceptance, but also to own that depth of experience that in many ways enriches how one looks at life thereafter. (As I write this, I have my mourning lodged somewhere in my chest, screaming, "That is a poor bloody substitute." Seriously.)
It has helped me to see my mourning as a deep emptiness. When I tried to put an image to the feeling, all that came up was a depressingly fallow field after a war (and for everyone this would be different I'm imagining). It was terrible to think that a huge part of me that had once been nurtured and joyfully occupied by my mother, and brother, and so many others who have died, is now this wasteland of grief.
But, fallow fields are still nurturing – they just need more time, more healing. The earth has its own inner wisdom, and so does each person. Over a period, you can start sowing new crop here. Not to replace the one who has gone, but to truly celebrate them, to grow from them, and heal yourself and your inner wound. Mourning is that fallow land, that dry period, a most basic kind of healing.
One of the most powerful insights into mourning that I have ever read is Miki Kashtan's piece on "Loss, Empty Space and Community" where she talks about this idea of empty spaces and how it is incorporated into traditional Jewish grief practices, as well as how it interacts with her own journey and understanding.
This is my general understanding about mourning as a need. Mourning as a practice on the other hand is a lot more difficult than writing down a lot of words and thinking about it. From what I can tell, it's that thing about carrying it inside you, holding onto the pain, really breathing into it – going "through" rather than going "around" – and emerging on the other side, potentially. That part I don't know yet, and I'm working on it!
My earlier non NVC based articles on death and mourning:
The Weekly Needs Study is a study of Needs as I understand them, in the context of Nonviolent Communication, or Compassionate Communication. The idea is to do one need at a time, every week, in a personal, investigative (rather than informative), and open manner, to create a space for learning, reflection and conversation!
Please note that this is based on my understanding of NVC or Compassionate Communication, and there are probably a gazillion other ways to understand Needs, and indeed, NVC itself. Please feel free to check out CNVC for more information.
Today, I am experience the difference between saying "thank you" or "that was nice", and expressing Gratitude.
Gratitude, in so many ways, is an Inner Harvesting. It is the act of sifting through myself to see what has been cultivated to its fullness.
In expressing gratitude, I may choose to share:
a) what it was specifically that brought me joy, what I have enjoyed seeing or hearing or sensing;
b) how this lands inside me - how I feel when I see or hear or sense, or remember, that specific action or occurence in my inner or outer world; and,
c) which Needs of mine have been met in this moment.
This practice of gratitude suppors me in connecting with myself as well as with the other. The third step is perhaps the most important in many ways, because it connects me to a fullness inside me, and that fullness is something the other can understand when it is expressed in the language of Needs - as these are common between us.
Can you think of one thing - small or large - that has brought you joy today, and connect with the needs that were met in that moment?
One of my experiences of joy today has been receiving a cup of tea from my cook. I have deeply met needs for support as this wakes me up in the morning and brings me a sense of calm and peace as well.
Gratitude in Compassionate Communication | CNVC Needs Inventory | Image Credits
When I get in touch with my needs - my core values at the heart of everything I do - I step into a space of RESPONSIBILITY and CHOICE. Responsibility for my feelings and for meeting my own needs, for the choices I make and what I create in the world. Choice, to create the kind of world I want to see, to make the changes I need to have the life I want, to meet my needs in a strategy that suits me. In taking responsibility and making choices, I step into a space of personal power.
(The NVC Practice Group in Delhi meets every Tuesday at D-178, Defence Colony, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Please call ahead at +91-9968531446 if you're coming for the first time. All are welcome!)
At the heart of Nonviolent Communication is the idea of Needs.
Words like ‘longing’, ‘desire’ and ‘wish’ point towards what is meant by the word "needs" in NVC, but needs are deeper than ‘wants’, ‘desires’, etc. Needs are a sort of ‘living energy’ – energy inside us that is alive and calls for us to take action in honour of that aliveness. They are at the core of our actions. Our core of needs is full of life, potential and energy.
Needs are universal and human. My needs are the same as your needs; needs like "joy", "love", "peace" and "safety", are common to us all. But my strategies may be different from your strategies. I might take a long walk, and you might be rocking out to Led Zeppelin -- and both of us could be meeting the same need, for space, peace and joy.
Needs exist independent of any person, place, action, time or thing. When I want something that is connected with a person, place, action, time or thing, that is a STRATEGY, different from a need.
There are 15,462,928 strategies for meeting each need. When we shift our focus to one another’s needs, rather than one another's strategies, we are far more likely to find common ground. Conflict occurs at the level of strategies, and not at the level of needs.
(Please note that all of the above is based on my understanding of Marshall Rosenberg's Nonviolent Communication.)
For more needs, check out: http://www.cnvc.org/Training/needs-inventory
enCOMPASSion's trainings are, as mentioned before, based on Compassionate Communication. So, what is Compassionate Communication?
Compassionate Communication, or Nonviolent Communication (NVC), is a process that guides us towards our natural state of compassion. It supports us in shifting away from a language of blaming, shaming and judgements, to a space of connection, common humanity and understanding.
And what on earth does that mean?
In a practical, every day sense, the introduction of NVC principles and tools into my interactions helps me to shift away from the harsh language that I use every day to understand and control my world.
The language I use habitually, which I have grown up hearing all my life, often takes on the shape of judgements: some things are "good", while others are "bad"; some things are "right", while others are "wrong"; I "should" do the "right" things, and I "should not" do the "wrong" things. In this binary, somewhat black and white understanding of the world, there are winners and losers, criminals and victims, enemies and friends. Sometimes, I use the same language on myself: I blame myself, I tell myself I am not worthy, and that I have failed.
NVC helps me to shift away from this binary understanding of the world, where there are only blacks and whites and sometimes, a few shades of grey, to a world where every hue of human experience matters.
All these shades of human experience, in NVC, are represented within the concept of Needs: core, human longings, wishes, driving life energies, that are common to us all, and connect each of us. NVC suggests that when we shift the focus of our awareness to Needs and speak from this consciousness, then we stand to radically change our lives and interactions.
Read more about NVC here: https://www.cnvc.org/
And more about enCOMPASSion's inspirations below!
Compassionate Communication (or Nonviolent Communication, designed by Marshall B. Rosenberg) is a language, a process and a consciousness, that can serve as a compass that points us back to our natural habitat of connection, common humanity and shared mutual understanding. This notion of the "compass" within "compassion", lies at the heart of all offerings at enCOMPASSion.
enCOMPASSion is also driven by the idea that Compassion is doable, replicable and practical, in addition to being natural and deeply fulfilling. The term "enCOMPASSion" is thus a verb, representing a doing of compassion. Deriving meaning from the word "encompass", "enCOMPASSion" can mean a multitude of things:
- An encircling, enclosing, or having and holding within, of Compassion,
- Including Compassion comprehensively in day-to-day actions, thoughts and words, and,
- Causing Compassion to take place, as an enactment, a doing, a causation.
My hope, through enCOMPASSion, is to offer something radical as well as simple, accessible and powerful, to inspire change from within, creating sustainable systems and structures that are lasting, powerful, and rooted in natural humanity.