512-589-0482 elly@ellyvanlaar.com

I want to matter to myself

I want to ask for a raise. I don’t receive my pay check as appreciation for the value I add. I think my empathy and mediation skills are unique and contribute to the emotional, social, and academic development of my clients. I empower them to be autonomous, authentic, and responsible. I teach them to include all needs and figure out strategies that work for everyone. I want to be seen and appreciated for these qualities.

I talk with my empathy buddy about this. I tell him I should earn more, that I deserve it with the level of commitment I have for my clients.

Oops.

I just read in Nonviolent Communication that ‘should’ and ‘deserve’ language conveys that a request is actually a camouflaged demand.

I fall silent. I check in with myself. I am making a demand. I am so scared I will hear a ‘no’ that I am using force to get a ‘yes’. I’m too afraid to hear the ‘no’ as proof that I don’t matter, that my employer doesn’t care about my needs.

“Mattering to whom?” my buddy asks. Duh. To my employer, of course! I need to know that I matter to them.

Then I fall silent again… Or is it mattering to myself? Am I afraid that I will walk out on myself, as soon as I hear a ‘no’? Am I scared that I will give up on myself and my needs to accommodate the relationship?

Image courtesy to wellness.nicolepresents.com

Silence… Yes… That’s it… And I realize that if I matter to myself, I would use this request as an opportunity to express what’s alive in me, what my inner experience is. Not to get what I want (NVC is never a good tool for that purpose), but to be known for who I am and what I need. To create a relationship that’s based on honesty and empathy.

And all of a sudden I realize that this conversation is actually a chance to support the inner child in myself. The little, stuttering child who so often thought she didn’t matter, that no one cared what was going on within her. Who was too scared to speak up, because she feared disconnection. This is the time to invite the adult within me to squat next to her and encourage her to speak, to help her find the words. This is not about a salary raise, this is about healing. Learning to ask for what I want, in a way that conveys to myself that I matter. That’s all that matters.

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You want help to matter to yourself? Contact me 512-589-0482 to schedule a complimentary, discovery session to see if and how I can help.

Emotional potty training

Image courtesy to Wikimedia

I am so happy with my emotional potty training. After I realized that I’m emotionally incontinent, I went on a quest to learn how to stand my anger, jealousy, fear, and other unwelcome feelings. I learned how to have my feelings, connect, accept and understand them and respond with compassion, mindfulness, and care for everyone.

I can proudly say that I am a little bit more emotionally continent. I still my accidents where my painful feelings overwhelm me, and I yell, blame, and judge despite my value of compassion and connection. And I’m noticing moments where I feel anger, jealousy, fear arise and maintain my calm.

I couldn’t have done it without John Kinyon and Ike Lasater’s self-connection process. This is how it might work for you.

So there you are. With your husband. You come home, and, again, he didn’t clean the counter, as promised. You think you don’t matter and that what you want doesn’t count. Angry thoughts are piling up one after the other. Yep. That sometimes happens.

Then you catch yourself. You’re getting triggered. Oops. Just in time to do the self-connection exercise. You move to a spot on your right (I always chose my right, so my body builds up an instinctive routine and doesn’t get confused in times of challenge) and focus your awareness on your breath. Just noticing it. Nothing else. Breathing in, I know I’m breathing in. Breathing out, I know I’m breathing out. Maybe a first sigh of relief of pausing.

Then you bring your attention to your physical sensations. Just an invitation to get out of your head and into your body. Maybe you’re sweaty, maybe your stomach is tight, maybe your heart is racing. Just bringing body and mind together, and ground yourself in the present moment. Your body cannot be anywhere else. Maybe a second sigh of relief of self-connection.

In this safe container of breath and body awareness you connect to your feelings. Wow. You might be surprised by your feelings. You might notice that there is sadness underneath your anger. A tender sadness. Maybe a fear too. A fear that you don’t matter, that there is not enough care and support for your needs. Ouch, maybe the pain of the thought that you are not good enough, that you are not worthy of connection, love, belonging.Maybe a third sigh of relief and self-compassion.

Breathing in, breathing out. Physical sensations. Feelings. More clarity about your needs.

This is it. Just some spaciousness to listen to yourself before you respond. Just an opportunity to hold your own experience with love and gentleness.

I’m curious to hear if this self-care helps you to respond with more loving-kindness, compassion, and understanding. It does for me.

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You want help to ground yourself in your breath, body, and feelings? Contact me 512-589-0482512-589-0482 for a complimentary, discovery session. I would be delighted to work with you.

Screaming in giraffe

GiraffeMy friend is unhappy at work. She wants her boss to understand her troubles and acknowledge their shared responsibility in the problems. She hopes this will inspire him to support her finding a position where she will be seen and appreciated for her qualities.

Current conversations haven’t helped. She wants my advice how to proceed.

I tell her that I would start with “Beginning Anew”, and use feelings and needs language. As I talk, I notice that she grows quiet. I ask her how this idea lands with her.

It doesn’t. At all. She is sick and tired of having to listen first, of being the empathic and compassionate one. So far it turned out that her listening ended any conversation. The other responds to her accurate reflections of feelings and needs with “Exactly, that’s it” and walks away. No interest in her experience. No intention to include her needs.

I understand my friend.

Listening is just another strategy for connection. Reflecting feelings and needs can help to establish trust and understanding.

And it might not be sufficient.

Nonviolent Communication is not very nonviolent if it sustains an imbalance in resources. It is not very nonviolent if it excludes the needs of some and emphasize the needs of others. It is not very nonviolent if it silences the have-nots and favors the haves.

Sometimes we need self-expression as a strategy for connection. Sometimes we need to “scream in giraffe” (a term coined by Marshall Rosenberg) to be heard. Sometimes we need to take action to make sure all needs are included, also ours. Peace, connection, understanding are not possible if not all needs are supported.

Let’s practice using NVC to express our anger and unmet needs AND maintain connection. Let’s practice using NVC to support ALL needs. Let’s practice using NVC to awaken our awareness that our needs are interdependent, and that none can be happy if not all are happy.

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You want to learn to scream in giraffe? Contact me 512-589-0482. I would be excited to work with you!

How to change commitments and maintain connection

CommitmentI take my commitments very seriously. My yes is a ‘yes’ forever. At least, as long as they work for me. If they don’t, I do my utmost best to make them work until I give up and walk away. Just like that. “I want a divorce.” “I’ve found another job and am gonna leave.” “I’m moving to the USA and won’t be your big sister anymore.”

Balancing autonomy and togetherness

Gosh. Even after all those years, it hurts. My heart aches with all the broken commitments that were so important to me. I wished I had known thén what I am starting to learn now: how to balance my need for autonomy and pursuing my own dreams and my need for connection and supporting what you want.

I suck at that. I tend to accommodate others. And if  my needs go unfulfilled for too long I assert them. And forget those of others in the process. I just can’t believe that I can have my autonomy ànd our togetherness.

Asking support for our needs

So when I noticed how overwhelmed I feel with all the empathy calls, mediation triads and business support groups I’m in, I decide to drop one. Just tell my colleagues “Hey, I need more spaciousness, I have too much on my plate, I’m getting out of here.”

And so I do. I tell Adam that I want to end my participation in our collaboration. He empathizes with me. Then I ask how that lands for him. (I have come that far!) He feels sad and a sense of loss, he values our connection. As I listen to him and feel touched by his feelings and needs, something dawns on me. Something new I learned in Mediate Your Life. What if I include his needs in my choice? What if we work together to find a strategy that supports all needs? Not just mine, not just his, but ours?

I feel surprised. This is new territory for me. Instead of dumping my choice and running away, I engage the other person in finding a strategy that works for both of us. I let the results follow the relationship.

Including all needs leads to better solutions

It works out beautifully. We decide to talk once a month, and experiment with a new format. Then evaluate and maybe adjust the agreement. This solution is better than anything I thought of before, because it not only supports our needs for autonomy and connection, but also for learning and challenge.

Gosh, it sounds so simple. It probably is. But for me it is revolutionary: I can hold on to what is important to me ànd maintain the connection. I can have the best of both worlds.

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You want help to change your commitments? Contact me 512-589-0482. I would be excited to brainstorm together how to do that ànd include the needs of others.

How self-connection deepens connection with others

Connection10:30, I am excited. My first mediation triad! An opportunity to mediate my own conflict! Mediating your own stuff might not sound yummy to you, but to me it sounds empowering. If I have the tools, skills and consciousness to navigate difficult conversations -especially those where I think my sense of worth and mattering are on the table- I am sure that I can create happy, healthy and safe relationships with anyone I want.

We start with me being the disputant, Faith as my counterpart and Candace as the mediator.

It works fine. I’m getting my point across, and I understand what Faith -as my counterpart- is saying.

Then we change seats. I am the mediator, Faith is me, and Candace is my counterpart. Faith -as Elly- starts to speak. I am immediately triggered by what she says, and especially how she says it. It sounds very much like me, but not the ‘me’ I want to be. And certainly not the ‘me’ I want to be seen.

I move to the self-connection chair. An empty chair next to me, where I can move on to, when I am triggered. To practice such a safe space in my own mind. And while I sit there, I focus on my breath. Real simple. One breath in, one breath out. Then I focus on my feelings. One breath in, one breath out. I feel anxious and scared. Then I connect to my needs. One breath in, one breath out. I want acceptance for who I am, from others, and certainly from myself. Then I switch back to the mediator seat.

During this whole self-connection practice, I listen to Faith playing me. I reflect her back and check if I get her, to nurture her need to be heard.

This self-connection practice doesn’t take me out of connection, it takes me more deeply in it. It expands it, by adding self-connection to it. While I am connecting to you, I am connecting to myself as well. And this self-connection helps me to bring the full me to the table, all of me. My fears, frustration, sadness, joy, anything I feel and need in this moment. And the awareness that those are just experiences in this moment, that I am more than that.

It enriches the connection to an extent that I find surprising. You don’t need to express what is happening inside, as long as you get it yourself and you embrace it with compassion.

It allows you to acknowledge your pain, and putting it on hold for now, and relate to the other from the heart, instead of from  your subconscious trigger.

And that creates a whole lot of freedom, and a whole lot of loving.

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You want help to practice self-connection in the heat of the moment? Contact me 512-589-0482. I am honored to help you.

Thank you, Ike Lasater and John Kinyon for this practice and insight.