The more we can stay present with our hurt, and own our interpretations, we are more likely to express what's important to us without blame and also to become resilient. From there, the listener can have more space to offer their full presence and empathy. Read on for more.
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.
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.
Can the Social Order Be Transformed through Personal Practice? The Case of Nonviolent Communication - Part 1 of 2
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.
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?
When we are transparent about our concerns, brainstorm solutions together, and look towards making a decision with the other person, we can increase understanding, partnership, and mutual support. This invites people to work on the same issue from the same direction, collaboratively seek solutions, and tap a deeper wisdom. In the end, the future survival of our species depends on this kind of active interdependence.
What would happen if you considered that time is a concept, and that it doesn't rule your life? What would it mean to make all choices based on needs and not on time? Do you obey the external rhythm of the clock over and above the internal rhythm of your life energy? This is an invitation into more responsibility, awareness, honesty, choice and freedom.
We can dream and wait for the day to do things differently, or we can continually take steps towards the future of our dreams as though it were here now. The future will not be significantly different from the present if we all act as if change is not possible or only possible after it's already happened. Instead, we can immediately consider everything we do as the possible seed of change beyond our wildest dreams and vision.