In working with hundreds of people over the years, and of course being human myself, the issue of assumptions has come up again and again as a great source of disconnection and suffering. We have explored some key assumptions that seem to be particularly troublesome.
Last week I walked out to the pond in the morning to feed the fish as I always do. I immediately noticed the plant that was astray and then looked down to see a fish on the cement, pretty ripped up and obviously dead.
I became a bit frantic, immediately called Steve who wasn’t there, hung up and screamed, “I want to kill the cat!”
Some important additional information required here:
When people approach me to do coaching (or come to a workshop) because they want a more satisfying partnership relationship, one of the first concerns I hear is, “What if my partner won’t come?”
My answer has always been, “It isn’t necessary.” Creating a satisfying relationship —if you want one, is your job.” That response is usually met with disbelief, and the relationship remains the same.
Sometimes when someone is doing something we don’t like, we find it very difficult to are about why they are doing/saying it, and we find it very easy to label them as wrong. Some things are just so awful to hurtful to us, we lose our capacity to react any other way.
Has this happened to you? You really want to understand what motivated someone to do something —you sometimes even think you are trying to understand what motivated someone to do something. Your voice is pleasant, you insist that you really are curious. Yet, when it comes down to it, you really are furious, or disappointed, maybe full of despair. If you were able to slow it down enough and check in, you would be able to notice it.
One of our deepest needs is connection, and a sense of belonging with each other. And we struggle so much creating that experience with a great deal of the people we know, including our partners, family, friends, and co-workers. Somehow we find ourselves upset, frustrated, confused, and disappointed, over and over.
How can this be? Our most important human need is so challenging to experience.
Let’s use the short answer.
Yesterday I was having a coffee (well, I had the carrot salad and fizzy water) with a friend. This is Kim, a kindred spirit who I am inspired by and with and feel grateful when it works out that we can hang out. We were catching up after her travels; she was on a journey with one of her mentors/spiritual teachers in Mexico.
Our conversation was lovely and lively, and was running deep.
And then, I noticed a shift. It was ever so slight, a move in my seat, a twitch in my face, a noticing of a mild ‘unpleasant’.
Valentine’s Day is approaching.
As a relationship coach, I find it one of the most devastating holidays we ever invented. Does anyone truly —I mean really and truly enjoy, savor and celebrate this day?
Marshall Rosenberg wrote and talked about ‘tragic suicidal ways to get our needs met’. Most couples get into coupledom for the purpose of meaningful connection. Why is this so elusive?
Has this ever happened to you?
You are having an important conversation with your partner (or friend, or co-worker or parent) and it is crystal clear that they (consistently) aren’t understanding what you are saying? You believe they aren’t listening, or they are taking what you say too personally. They get upset when you think they shouldn’t. You are feeling frustrated. You are certain that you are communicating clearly. How could they be misunderstanding you again? Possibly you have tried to have a particular conversation before and run into similar situation. Possibly it happens regularly.
It’s all too annoying.
This kind of black and white thinking rules us. We learn it from young. You might get a gift from Santa if you are nice, be good or do what your parents want you to do.
However continuing this practice of doing what someone else wants you to do, or ‘because it is nice’ (or good, or right) will only lead you to relationships filled with confusion and resentment.
From Halloween through til New Years, we are bombarded with images of houses to decorate, parties to either perfectly host or joyfully participate in, hundreds of gifts to buy, including gifts to have in your closet so you can give a gift to someone you don’t know well enough to buy a real gift for yet have a gift for them if they happen into your home. Don’t forget all these gifts require wrapping—thank goodness for gift bags and tissue paper. Food shopping, traveling, organizing pet sitting, and the rest of it.
This week I have the opportunity to mourn some interactions I had over the weekend.
What does that mean?
It means that I had some experiences that I feel less than excited about. In the moment they were a bit awkward. I was feeling a bit confused, and disappointed, even a little sad in the moment. Very aware that I wished ‘it’ was different.
I was painting rocks this morning and was reminded of the simplicity of navigating relationships.
Did I really? Did I have to write this?
What would have happened if I didn’t?
This word that I (and most NVC trainers) talk about endlessly. NEEDS. What are they? Why does it seem so difficult for some to ‘get’ it?
Well, it happened. I got mad. At Steve.
In Nonviolent Communication classes we spend a whole bunch of time figuring out how to feel our feelings. How do we notice them? How to distinguish feelings from thoughts, games to discern one feeling from another. Practices to enhance our capacity to say what they are. We have sheets and cards and magnets and games. All so we can know what our feelings are.
And now you want to share them.
I talk with a great deal of people some of whom share with me that they are ‘so ready for a relationship!’ These are words I understand and remember saying myself.
And, I wonder. Are you really ready?
Most people are super-enthusiastic when they come to my classes and hear what seems like poetry and expresses the Nonviolent Communication consciousness. They hear the compassion, the curiosity, the clarity and the strength that can be communicated ~ even in significantly difficult situations.