One of the men at Deer Ridge Correctional Institution talked about how he was frustrated—and kind of angry—about his knee. It hurt and it was making it difficult to do his job. He said his body used to just be there for him and now that he was older, it was not supporting him as it did when he was younger. I asked him if he had some sadness about his body losing some of its strength and resilience. “Yes!” he said…Read More
Bryn and I had an interesting talk recently about how it’s quite possible to experience negative feelings and unmet needs simply because our thinking includes assumptions, stereotypes, or expectations. Here’s my example. I recently learned that a well-known musician (whose songs I love) divorced his wife after 37 years of marriage, seemingly to date another woman. I was surprised and sad to hear this, and because I care about both of them, I wanted them to have the continued closeness that comes from being in a lifelong relationship. And, I was also angry.Read More
The weather is sunny and warm with a chance of thunderstorms this afternoon. Do I ask myself if the weather should be different? Or is the weather just the weather?
A personal weather report might sound like…Read More
It’s apparently part of our human wiring to have a strong focus on what isn’t working, and comparatively a rather weak focus on what is going well. However, it turns out that we can change this through the practice of noticing and savoring the good stuff—those moments when needs are met. Using this practice, we become aware of the wonderful feelings that arise at those moments, and this creates a delightful loop of noticing and enjoying them more often. Even more wonderful, drinking in these good moments feeds the heart, mind, and spirit by filling up our often-depleted energy reserves.
Here are some practices you can try that support growing an awareness of needs met.Read More
Recently I was asked, “How do I offer myself compassion?” Before attempting an answer, I want to acknowledge that there can be big obstacles to offering ourselves compassion. Of these, we can include the fact that our negative emotions themselves are very good at capturing our attention—so much so that it may take hours or even days to notice the fact that we’ve been suffering.Read More
At a recent practice group, the metaphor of a tennis court came up during an exploration of someone’s feelings and needs about a particular relationship. We drew a picture of a tennis court on our white board and used it to get clarity about which side of the court is ours to play in a relationship. …Read More
I am honored to teach Communicating for Life classes at Deer Ridge Correctional Institution (DRCI) and have needs met for connection, learning, contribution, fun, and more at each class. Your donations make these classes possible so I want to pass along a few of the men’s appreciations to you for the difference you make in their lives. …Read More
The other day, as my thoughts rambled along, it occurred to me that many things must have had to happen for me to be alive today. Like my parents meeting; that they married and they wanted children. Then soon after I was born I contracted encephalitis. Somehow the care I received, the expertise brought to that moment, the many prayers prayed, my own genetic makeup, and God knows how much more pulled me through. Any less might not have.
But really, aren’t there literally thousands of events that preceded my birth and many thousand more that have taken place in life my since then? …Read More
Are you feeling sad, anxious, concerned, and scared? Are you aching to be heard and seen? Are you feeling hopeless about connecting with someone who sees the world so very differently, who doesn’t seem to share your same reality? Does your heart hurt when conversation leads to disconnection and the love and caring in the relationship seems to evaporate?Read More
A couple of months ago, someone—I’ll call her Gail—asked me if I’d help her with a problem she had. As she talked about her situation, I soon realized that she was so tangled up in it, she couldn’t let go of the story long enough to sort out what she wanted. When I tried guessing what her needs might be she jumped right into judgments. “How could they hire that guy? Don’t they see what a mess he’s making?!” My inquiry only seemed to make things worse.Read More
At a recent practice group, we talked about the upcoming holidays and the mixed bag they can be for some of us. We explored what needs each of us wants to meet and we used that exercise in awareness to set our intentions for those needs.Read More
I recently attended a course called “Positive Neuroplasticity.” During the class, we discovered how to shift our thinking in order to change the way the brain operates—including its influence on our worldview. In other words, if our worldview is generally negative (which most brains tend to gravitate toward) we can, with practice, actually train our brain so that it will operate from a more positive point of view. Cool, right?Read More
Ah, Fall. It’s my favorite time of year… the cooler, crisper mornings; the spectacular red and yellow shimmer of leaves; the slant of the sun that turns things golden and soft. I am suffused with a joy that seems to reach every cell of my body. One of the great gifts of NVC for me is this being present for and letting in the wonderful that surrounds me.Read More
Inner critics arise because in the past we’ve been penalized or punished for something that others thought, or that we thought we should have or shouldn’t have done. Having been punished in the past, our brain is wired to avoid it in the future. It does this by sending us warnings, often in the form of accusations, judgments, or threats. With practice, we can alter this process by using NVC.Read More
“When someone is cruel or acts like a bully, you don’t stoop to their level. No, our motto is, when they go low, we go high."
Those are Michelle Obama’s words spoken during her speech at the Democratic National Convention. And it got me to thinking, what does it look like to “go high”?Read More
By now I’m hoping you’ve had a chance to try Compassionate Communication during a disagreement, or as a way to get needs met at home or at work. Hurray! Practicing by doing is the most direct way to keep learning and growing one’s NVC skills.
But what about when running across a situation in which we’re confused and we’re not sure what to do? Or, what if our brain is telling us two completely different but seemingly reasonable stories about a situation?
I just attended a wonderful Embodied Life Retreat with Russell Delman at Breitenbush. I had a delicious experience of peace, learning, inspiration, connection, and extraordinary beauty (pink rhododendron explosion)!
The morning before I left, Denise Torres and I met at the Center for our regular planning meeting. We were talking about how we'd like to actively encourage people to take their compassionate practice not only into their personal relationships, but out into our community.
Recently I had the good fortune to attend a 3-day Vipassana retreat where we spent a great deal of time in silence and meditation. Because there was so much quiet, it became easier to notice judgments as they arose. “She’s doing it wrong.” “I hate not being able to connect.” “That poor woman looks like she’s really struggling." Noticing this, I would return to my practice, find my center, and start again.Read More