Balance purpose, relationships, and self-care

Empathy works. It always does.

Three steps to start anew

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grandaspirations.orgTime for celebration

Today I want to celebrate my successful implementation of Thich Nhat Hanh’s Beginning Anew!

Avoid conflict

I have been part of a small group of Nonviolent Communication coaches/trainers. We talk on the phone once a week. I value the level of support, encouragement and integrity I find in this group. And yet, somehow, I started to dread the conversations, more and more.

My favorite strategy when something doesn’t work for me is to disengage, then disconnect. I am well-trained at that. Rescheduling calls, not making them, coming up with a lame excuse that I am too busy and have to quit. Stuff like that.

I love that strategy!

Trying something new

This time I decide to try something different. I decide to express my dread and take it from there. I’m gonna use Thich Nhat Hanh’s three steps of Beginning Anew, and use Nonviolent Communication to express myself in feelings and needs.

I first ask Priya and Adam if they are okay if I talk about our group interaction, using Thich Nhat Hanh’s steps.

I start to sweat, feel anxious, see doom scenario’s of how they will react. I am absolutely sure I will be rejected, criticized, discarded. (Yep, these are not feeling words, these are feelings mixed in with a thought, but you get the picture of the racing dialogue in my head).

I did not expect to hear “Sure! We would love to listen and support you. Take your time. We’re here for you.”

I take the first step: appreciate what I like in the connection, maybe even in the current situation. That is their commitment to empathize with me, their willingness to open up to my struggle, their ability to hold my fear and anxiety with compassion.

They reflect me back. They guess my feelings and needs. They give me space to talk.

I’m starting to relax. A thought pops up in my head: “Maybe it is possible to express myself authentically and still belong and be accepted? Maybe I can find a balance between autonomy and togetherness?”

I didn’t get to the next two steps: expressing my regret for my own behavior, and sharing what actually bothers me. I don’t mind. We will continue this Friday.

Try it for yourself

I feel relieved, open and trusting. I get the brilliance of Thich Nhat Hanh’s advice to start with appreciation. It builds relationship, a safe container for our feelings and needs. It supports seeing the other person as human, instead of the enemy in our head. We can see the positive in them, the good, the pure, the beauty, beyond anything that doesn’t work for us. They are not enemies, or obstacles to our happiness. They are human beings in their own right.

I feel excited about our next group call. I would never have believed that that was possible. It is. Try it for yourself.

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You want help to begin anew, with yourself or someone else? Contact me for a complimentary, discovery session, 512-589-0482

Author: Elly van Laar

I am a coach. I specialize in helping professionals schedule time for relationships and self-care. I have a Master's degree in Political Science, Leiden University, the Netherlands. I love meditation, walking, gardening, biking, and hanging out with family and friends.

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