by Elly van Laar | Jan 31, 2014 | Compassionate Communication, Mindfulness, Nonviolent Communication, Personal Growth
Mindfulness is not for the weak of heart
Waking up this morning, I smile,
twenty-four brand new hours are before me.
I vow to live fully in each moment,
and to look at beings with eyes of compassion.
It couldn’t have been more untrue. I wake up tired, discouraged, somber and listless. I am willing to look at beings with eyes of compassion, but the commitment is feeble.
I wished it were different. I wished I was energetic, positive, enthusiastic, bubbly with life.
I’m not. And all the meditation and mindfulness in the world won’t change that. And that’s not what they are for. They are not tools to guarantee eternal happiness. They are not tools to never feel miserable again. On the contrary, mindfulness will bring you back to the astounding realization how miserable you feel. There is no hiding, no distraction, no cover up. You sit on your cushion and you feel your own restlessness, you drive your care and you notice how impatient you are, you feel hurt and you hear yourself scream.
Embrace your feelings with love and compassion
If anything, mindfulness brings immense clarity to what you’re actually experiencing in this moment. What your life is about right now. And it is a fantastic tool to stand these feelings. To let them penetrate you. To let them tell you what it is like to be a human being, to be you. Mindfulness helps you to feel all these human feelings with more love and understanding. “Oh, that’s what it is like to feel lonely, envious, enraged.” Whatever feeling consumes you. Mindfulness helps you to stand them. To bring some love and compassion to them. To listen to them as if they are your beloved children, long, long forgotten. They bang at your door, force their way through, and all they want is you to listen. Just listen. How scared they are, how sad, how angry. How they don’t want to feel scared, sad, angry. How they want you to help them, hold them, embrace them. And all you need to do is sit and listen. Give them space, give them some love.
And you know what? If you sit down with them and listen, they will calm down. They have been heard. That is all they wanted. They want to tell you what they need. A beautiful, precious, human need. Maybe some reassurance, some warmth, some help. And they ask you to look for ways to nurture those needs.
That’s where mindfulness meets Nonviolent Communication. I can’t think of a better combination.
Yes, I smile. I vow to look at beings with eyes of compassion. I start with myself.
Contact me at 512-589-0482 if you want to see how I can help you stand your feelings.
by Elly van Laar | Jan 27, 2014 | Acceptance, Compassionate Communication, Mindfulness, Nonviolent Communication, Personal Growth
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.
When 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.
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
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
by Elly van Laar | Jan 23, 2014 | Compassionate Communication, Mindfulness, Nonviolent Communication, Personal Growth
How do we make commitments we can honor? I hope these six steps will help you.
1. Connect to the underlying needs you’re trying to serve
In my desire to be an aspirant-member of the Order of Interbeing I try to nurture my need for help on my path of mindfulness and compassion. It also supports a need for belonging to a group I feel welcome and at home. I have a need for contribution, to use my practice to benefit others and relief suffering. There is a need for peace, to be more open and accepting of reality, and more joyful of what is in this moment, instead of what I want it to be. And there is a need for harmony and trust. This community handles conflicts with such peace, ease and grace.
2. Brainstorm other strategies
Write all your needs down on a big piece of paper, step back and look at the overall picture. Are there other strategies that might support all those needs?
I see my needs for support, community, belonging, contribution, peace, harmony and trust, and wonder which other strategies would nurture those needs. My marriage, moving back to the Netherlands, seeking certification with the Center for Nonviolent Communication? I don’t see they support all of my needs. This choice stands out as the best.
Maybe more needs come up at this stage. Jot them down, and re-do step 2. Do they reinforce your choice, or change your strategy? I realize my need for purpose and clarity reinforces my choice for being an aspirant-member.
If you have more strategies available, you can use the polarity matrix to check which one stands out.
3. Imagine yourself six months from now, after your commitment
Look at your future self, and feel, see, hear, taste, smell all the aspects of your life. What are your experiences, activities, surroundings? Do you like this future version of yourself? Do you get excited and enthusiastic to be that person? If so, go on with step 4. If not, this is not the right strategy.
4. Sleep on it
Let it go. Repeat “Everything is in divine order, everything will be resolved in God’s love and wisdom” or anything else that rings true. Trust your subconscious’ wisdom and guidance. Relax in the miracles of sleep.
5. Express your intention
You wake up with the same commitment? Express your intention to an accountability partner. Someone who is willing to check if this is really what you want. Hearing yourself express out loud what you want to commit to, will help surface any fears, hopes, reservations and longings. With empathy you can address them and include them in your choice.
Go for it! That is the only way to know you made a true commitment. Even if it turns out to be the wrong choice, you can celebrate your sincere intention to consciously commit.
You want help to clarify your commitments? Contact me for a complimentary, discovery session 512-589-0482
by Elly van Laar | Jan 21, 2014 | Compassion, Compassionate Communication, Personal Growth, Self-compassion
A letter from my jealousy to me
I am so sorry I exist. I wished I had never been born. I see how much pain I bring to your life, and I certainly see the havoc I create when I go berserk.
I often do.
I wished I didn’t.
I wished I could ask for help, when I feel hurt and scared your husband will leave you for a better version of you: bigger boobies, flatter belly, more compassionate. I wished I could ask for help, when I feel scared and upset because your colleagues in Nonviolent Communication get more ‘likes’, participants and acknowledgment.
I feel ashamed and desperate that I am ruining your life the way I do. On so many occasions. I do try to hide as much as I can, but sometimes something overwhelms me and I need to get out of the closet and smash everything to pieces. I don’t know why. Forgive me. I know how ugly and disgusting my face is.
A letter from me to my jealousy
I feel so touched and moved as I read your letter. I feel tears in my eyes and tender with love. There is nothing to ask forgiveness for, my sweet child. Nothing.
I didn’t take good care of you. I locked you away in the closet, because I was afraid that I would be rejected if someone saw you. I so desperately want acceptance, that I don’t want to jeopardize that, even a little bit. I have always been sure that you were a liability to that need.
I see I was wrong.
I am so sorry for all the pain I created. I am so sorry.
I won’t lock you behind bars anymore. I want you out in the sun. I want you here with me and see your pretty face.
Will you go for a walk with me this afternoon? Maybe we can talk about how we can support each others’ need for acceptance? I would love to.
Jealousy says ‘yes’. We spend the long walk talking about our needs for love, belonging, acceptance. For who we are, not for what we do or what we have. We hold hands, and come home happy. We see the shared humanity in each others’ behavior, and these all too understandable needs for love and acceptance.
You want help to embrace your jealousy with compassion? Contact me for a complimentary, discovery session 512-589-0482
by Elly van Laar | Jan 20, 2014 | Acceptance, Compassionate Communication, Mindfulness, Nonviolent Communication
Time for celebration
Today I want to celebrate my successful implementation of Thich Nhat Hanh’s Beginning Anew!
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.
You want help to begin anew, with yourself or someone else? Contact me for a complimentary, discovery session, 512-589-0482