Helping Nonprofit Leaders Transform Conflict

Leadership Coach and Mediator

Childhood messages impact how we receive reality

My husband writes on and teaches Nonviolent Communication. More than 20 years and 1100 classes. Every Sunday,  every Tuesday.

His favorite piece is ‘Repairing the Boat’ – a daylong workshop he offers on self-connection and discovering introjections. Introjections are the external messages we hear in our childhood. They can impact our sense of self, our perception of reality and our openness to the needs that are present.

Road to FreedomWhen people are willing to look at these, sometimes elusive, hard-to-hear childhood messages, they can learn to more deeply explore their needs. As a result, they experience more freedom, joy and peace. They learn to take the actions of others less personally, and to distinguish between what is being said/done and how they receive these words/actions. This helps to understand all needs, which in turns helps their connection with others.

Are you kidding?

Last night we work with his material. He asks of a recent experience that was uncomfortable for me. He invites me to explore any phrases or ideas that come up -introjections- to understand my needs and the needs of the person whose behavior was uncomfortable.

Hum. Yep. I can think of one.

Of course. It is his.

His grumpiness.

I feel sad. I clearly remember the specific childhood instance this is tied to. I learned I cannot be who I am, when someone is grumpy. There is a penalty for being giddy, bubbly, exuberant. I need to confine myself to that person’s demands.

My husband asks if this memory makes it hard to be around him when he is grumpy. And how my life would be if I shift into understanding my and his needs.

Are you kidding me? I should make the effort to translate his behavior into needs? I should try to empathize with his experience? I should try to understand that his behavior has to do with his experience, and is in no way a reflection of me?

Why can’t he stop being grumpy? Why can’t he be more joyful? Why can’t he make an effort? Why do I have to do the work?

The road to inner freedom

And yet.

There might be some truth in it. Maybe it helps to be able to accept reality for what it is, not for what I want it to be.

It reminds me of The Work that I have been doing. “Until you can look forward to all aspects of life, without fear, your Work is not done.”

Maybe there is a gem in his teaching: that surfacing introjections dissipates their power to confuse reality. Maybe it is worthwhile to be honest with myself and face my baggage. Maybe I can take a step back, and see my needs in my reaction, and the needs of others in their behavior.

Maybe that’s not a maybe.

I can change my response to any behavior. That’s the road to inner freedom.


You want help to explore your introjections? Contact me for a complimentary, discovery session 512-589-0482, or email me.

Image courtesy to  Creative Commons

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