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Compassionate Listening: Valuing Diversity while Increasing Intimacy, Openness, Peace, and Safety

The other morning, I was walking in our local Nature Center and admiring a goose family that was made up of a Mom, Dad, and two goslings. They were floating down the river and I was standing on a bridge just over them. When the Dad saw me, he stretched his neck up and placed himself between his goslings and me. The Mom then took the lead, while he watched me. I really felt touched by how they both cared for their family and also sad that my presence invoked fear or stimulated a desire for protection.

Do you ever feel that way? Like you’re protecting yourself or your family or your stuff?

When I first came into NVC, I had a hidden motto that I later discovered was “Protect, protect, protect… At all costs protect.” In retrospect, I recognize that might have kept me safe in my younger years, and it also kept me from experiencing intimacy, openness, relaxation and peace throughout my life.

I was making a choice between protection and many other needs, and letting protection win out.

I understand why I did this.

There had been a time in my life when protection truly was my motivating factor and I’m proud that I found creative ways to keep myself relatively safe. But those days were long gone and I was still acting as if I needed to be hyper-vigilant.

Thanks to Marshall Rosenberg and NVC, I learned that I can experience protection AND love, intimacy, peace, and relaxation. In fact, it was easier for me to experience protection when I developed my skills for empathy (for self and others) and honest expression because I became better able to say what I needed to say, to hear others, and to be present to my inner guidance. It also caused me to be more open to and even value differing opinions and perspectives because I didn’t feel such a burning need to protect myself.

I remember this being such an unexpected, wonderful gift of my NVC work. These days, I sometimes forget how remarkable this was for me at the time because it’s become my new normal.

How about you? Do you have a tendency to protect yourself at the cost of intimacy and love?

Tags: compassion, love, NVC Consciousness, Peace, Protection, relationships

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