The “mind” or our “ego” are often depicted as a static entity, an unchangable part of human nature, and as obstacles or negative parts of ourselves to overcome. This view creates maligning, a split within us, while remaining invisibly part and parcel of authority-based societies --the dominant culture and institutions into which we are born. Instead, I want to advocate an integration of reason and emotion, mind and heart, plus self and others.
Why is it so difficult to not take things personally? It's because everything reinforces the sense that whatever is being said is indeed about us – both from without and from within. However, we can get better at not taking things personally with a practice of shifting our focus by being open to multiple interpretations, understanding that our reaction is about our own need, and noticing how the other person’s words, no matter how they sound to us, are an expression of their needs. We can then be more present and available to navigate the situation.
Most reactivity in intimate relationships comes from a lack of confidence in maintaining intimacy, autonomy, or security. What may help is naming what's happening, interrupting shame, and anchoring or reassuring yourself. You can also reflect on the effects of acting from reactivity. Knowing what helps center you, ask your partner to do or say specific things that might help. Read on for more.
We can choose our stories of interpretation, and how to respond. And while stories of self-sufficiency can (to a degree) give us more influence over our own lives, they don't erase oppression, war, nor climate change. When stories omit a lens that includes impacts of interdependence, oppression, and structural inequities, stories can also keep us disconnected and blocked from compassion for self and others -- and perpetuating an oppressive status quo. However, with this lens we can make greater compassion and collective liberation possible. Even as the outcome is unknown.
By focusing on NVC process and practice without factoring in the interdependent, systemic dimension we unwittingly diminish the power of NVC. We reinforce the dominant paradigm, rather than challenging it -- making NVC one more tool for compliance. NVC principles can turn against its own purpose in cruel ways. NVC could also empower social change. We'll need our attention on this matter if we are to contribute to transforming the oppression we face and our collective march towards extinction.
We can see throughout many examples in history that when we look for "who" is at fault, and thereby seek social change through shaming that person (or that group), it tends to lead to disastrous long term consequences. Even if it works in the short term. Instead, if we want to end cycles of violence we can seek to understand systemic causes and context of individuals' behaviour. And from there, look for solutions that stem from this understanding.
Given all that we are facing today as a society and a species, amongst some of the things we need is a well nourished heart. To nourish our hearts we need to discern where to wisely put our attention. Here are three practices to reclaim your attention, and replenish your reserves, so that you have the inner resources to do the work that is calling you. They are: train the mind, nourish the heart, and stay connected to purpose.
Is it dangerous for large numbers of people to be absorbing disturbing news alone? Given the intensity of our times, making choices based on conscious awareness and discernment in relation to current events is essential for our ability to stay engaged, and to also wisely meet our collective challenges with agency and power. Here are five tips for how to help stay sane in relation to the news cycle.
Unless we change our collective ways on the planet, we will one day exceed the earth’s carrying capacity. We can only address the planet's very real limits of physical resources at the level of social organization. To operate empathically is to adjust our collective social order and patterns so that resources are more widely available and everyone's needs are met no matter what their output, income, power, circumstances, etc. Can we envision a future where the system is infused with this level of empathy, before it's too late?