Interconnectedness – by Kind Communication

KindCommunication.orgRe-posted From: http://KindCommunication.org/2014/09/08/interconnectedness/

Your entire experience is a web of interconnections.

What you do impacts those around you.  What others do impact you.  You are currently reading these words on a screen which was built by someone else.  That computer was then transported by another person to the store from which you bought it.  People at that store stocked that computer and maintained it until you purchased it.

From the air you’re breathing you are extracting oxygen and breathing out carbon dioxide.  That tree outside your window is then absorbing the carbon dioxide and producing oxygen.  Your lungs and the tree are an interconnected system which you rely upon to survive.

When you realize how interconnected you are to the world and the people around you, you will treat them with more kindness, compassion, care, and love.  When you can see that you are not an island in and of yourself, you will notice that your joy and contentment is connected to the joy and contentment of everything around you.  “A happy spouse/child/parent, makes a happy home”.

A terrific way to cultivate this awareness of interconnection is through meditation.  I have included an audio of my favorite mediation from Marsha Lucas’ Rewire Your Brain for Love.  Consider using this meditation as a tool to increase your awareness of the interconnectedness of all things.

KindCommunication.org is a project by a close friend of Wiki World Order, Alex Leach. WWO fully supports the study, practice, and teaching of non-violent communication as one of the core solutions which already exists.

Tragedy and Hope Media Mail / This Week’s Publications 9.6.2014

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Five Tools to Practicing Compassion – by Kind Communication

KindCommunication.orgRe-posted From: http://KindCommunication.org/2014/08/24/five-tools-to-practicing-compassion/

I want people to have more compassion in their lives.  Most of us were never taught intentional practices for compassion.  Being compassionate (often misconstrued by culture as “being nice”) was often just an ideal set out before us.  Another way to make us feel “not good enough” and unworthy.

So below, I’m going to lay out five tools I use to practice the skill of compassion.  Please don’t hear “you must do all these things”.  I really imagine this list as an invitation for you to just pick one new tool to start practicing on a daily basis.

Meditation.  This is on probably every list of “compassionate practices” you’ve read.  That’s because it works.  Twice a day, sit for 20-30 minutes and put your full attention on your breath, a mantra, a piece of holy scripture, or even just one positive word.  More and more scientific studies are coming out confirming that meditation reshapes our neural pathways in such a way that it increases brain activity in areas associated with self-control, compassion, empathy, and reason.

Forgiveness.  Forgiving isn’t forgetting.  And sometimes it takes me weeks before I am willing to forgive.  I normally can’t forgive someone until I’ve allowed my emotions to be fully expressed and validated.  But the longer I hold onto those painful emotions and that enemy image of the other, the harder it is to forgive, and the less compassion I have, not only towards that person but also in general.  To make this a daily practice, sit down at the end of each day and write down something someone did that hurt you.  Give yourself permission to express all the emotion you have about that.  And I really mean all the emotions you have about it.  You don’t need the other person to be present to do this; you could do it alone or with another loving and supportive friend.  After you’ve expressed your emotions return to what you’ve written down and try to say out loud “I forgive you”.  If the words sound forced or hollow, you probably need to express some more emotion.  If you experience a peaceful release then you know you’ve done it.  Give yourself permission to star certain items and return to them on future days or weeks if you’re still not ready to forgive.

Self-Empathy.  This is a big one.  Truly connecting with my own feelings and core needs, values, or desires really helps me have more compassion.  This can involve translating my self-critical messages into feelings and needs.  Like when I hear that inner critic in my head say “You’re not working hard enough”, I translate it into “I feel scared and anxious that I am not going to accomplish enough and that I’m not being efficient.”  Self-empathy can also just involve taking a moment to acknowledge when I got hurt throughout the day and connecting with the feelings and needs I had in that moment.  This is not just an intellectual exercise, it must move beyond that or else you won’t get the desired effect.  Again carve out intentional time each day to sit down and do this with either your self-criticisms or with moments where others hurt you.

Empathy towards others.  This is the act of connecting with the feelings and needs in another person.  Again, this is not just an intellectual exercise, and if it doesn’t get past the place of “analyzing” then you are really only connecting with the mental image of the other person you have constructed in your head. Think about those people in your life that get under your skin.  Think about the specific actions or words they say that drive you nuts.  Try to imagine and connect with the feelings and needs in those words or actions.

Expressing gratitude.  Another popular tool on lists such as this.  You need to actually express thanks and appreciations to others.  A simple “thank you” really won’t suffice.  Share with the other person how you felt and what needs, values, or core desires their action really fulfilled in you.  This helps both of you have a deep understanding of how you were positively impacted by another person’s actions.  So make it a regular habit to express gratitude with your friends, partner, or family.

KindCommunication.org is a project by a close friend of Wiki World Order, Alex Leach. WWO fully supports the study, practice, and teaching of non-violent communication as one of the core solutions which already exists.

Tragedy and Hope Media Mail / This Week’s Publications 8.22.2014

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Admit When You’re Wrong – By Kind Communication

KindCommunication.orgRe-posted From: http://KindCommunication.org/2014/08/10/admit-when-youre-wrong/

You are not perfect.  You make mistakes.  Sometimes you’re wrong.  Sometimes you’re the one who went over the top or went too far.

And that’s okay.

In fact I encourage all my clients to have the courage to be imperfect.  Any time you try to be something you’re not (like perfect, or always right, or always nice, or always polite, etc) you are being fake.  And others can tell.  They may not know exactly how you’re being fake, but they probably feel some uneasy.

Think about times when you’ve been around someone who is pretending they are something more, something better, than they actually are.  How did you feel?  I generally feel skeptical, uneasy, anxious about that person seeing my flaws and lauding it over me, and I feel annoyed.

So hiding your mistakes doesn’t work, and people actually like it when you can confess your errors.  I’m not saying go around and treat every person as a private confessional.  I am saying that when you drop the ball, say something you regret, or did something reckless, to just admit that to whomever else was involved.

When I admit that I’ve done something I regret I am always surprised by how much more at ease I feel, how the other person seems more relaxed, and how much more readily the other person confesses to their own regrets of how they’ve acted towards me.  In that moment, I am giving both myself and this other person permission to be imperfect, to be just two humans doing the best we know how.

In the heat of the moment you might be too angry to admit when you’re wrong.  You can always have a redo, where later you come back and apologize.  This is always better than nothing.  And the more you practice admitting when you’re wrong, the easier it’ll be to admit it in the moment.  And that’s where some really miraculous things can happen.

Sound difficult?  It is sometimes.  Most of us have been deeply conditioned to try to be perfect, to try to do it right all the time, and to try to be nice & polite.  So the very thought of admitting we did something wrong brings up not only fears about the judgments and power this other person will hold over us, but also the judgments and power this inner critic, this inner parent figure, this inner authority figure, will hold over us.

It’s okay.  Admit when you did something wrong, and then notice how in this unguarded place forgiveness and compassion finally have room to enter.

KindCommunication.org is a project by a close friend of Wiki World Order, Alex Leach. WWO fully supports the study, practice, and teaching of non-violent communication as one of the core solutions which already exists.

Tragedy and Hope Media Mail / This Week’s Publications 8.1.2014

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Three Rules to Pausing Difficult Conversations – by Kind Communication

KindCommunication.orgRe-posted From: http://KindCommunication.org/2014/07/27/three-rules-to-pausing-difficult-conversations/

“How do I talk to my partner when I’m just so mad at her??”

You don’t.

When you get really upset, when you “see red”, when the only way you can express yourself is through yelling, that’s when you are triggered to a strong fight reaction.  And anytime you are triggered to your fight, flight, or freeze reaction your ability to communicate is nearly impossible.  So I always recommend to people that at the earliest sign that a conversation is about to “go south” to pause the conversation.

There is no shame in taking some time to calm down, collect your thoughts, and prepare to engage in a difficult but constructive conversation.  And I’d like to share my three rules to effectively pause a conversation.

First, always say “I need some time to calm down” even when you don’t.  Sometimes you can tell your partner is really worked up, and sooner or later will say something that you experience as hurtful.  Don’t hope that they will be able to control themselves, or will pause the conversation.  If you can tell that your partner is struggling, just step in and pause the conversation.  But if you say “you need some time to calm down” or even worse “you need a time out” you can expect that your partner will get even more upset.

Second, set a time for when you and this other person can check-in and potentially continue the conversation.  Setting a time to check-in will help your partner not feel like they are being abandoned.  And never use a break as a means to sweep an issue under the rug.  Whenever an issue doesn’t get resolved it just keeps popping up, sometimes dressed in some new disguise, but it’s still the same problem.  Research says that we need at minimum 30 minutes to calm down from an extremely angry place.  But depending on the issue and circumstances it could take much longer than that.  So before you both split, set a time when you can check in and see if you’re both ready to resolve the issue.  If at the check-in time one or both of you are still not ready to talk, then set a new check-in time and go back to taking a break.

Finally, use the time to actually calm down.  Don’t spend the entire break ruminating on all the terrible things your partner has said in the past, or how hurtful or mean your partner is, or making a laundry list of all the times this other person has let you down.  If that’s how you spend your break, then when you return you won’t be calmer, instead you’ll just have more ammo.  So spend that time doing something that’s truly relaxing.  Listen to music, go for a walk, receive some empathy from a friend, exercise, meditate, take a nap, watch some TV, read, journal, take a bubble bath, do whatever it is that helps you calm down.  Ideally, you even want to spend some of this time remembering all the things you love about this other person.

By following these three rules you will be able to avoid saying those things which cannot be unsaid, you will be able to choose a time and place when both you and the other person can speak calmly and with compassion, and you’ll actually resolve issues instead of just “letting them go”.

KindCommunication.org is a project by a close friend of Wiki World Order, Alex Leach. WWO fully supports the study, practice, and teaching of non-violent communication as one of the core solutions which already exists.

Tragedy and Hope Media Mail / This Week’s Publications 7.20.2014

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Three Signs You Need a Vacation – by Kind Communication

Re-posted From: http://KindCommunication.org/2014/07/15/three-signs-you-need-a-vacation/

Ahhhhh……I’ve just returned from a short weekend camping trip.  I feel so relieved, relaxed, rejuvenated, and refreshed.  And as I reflect upon the weeks leading up to my camping trip I notice three signs that I needed a vacation.  And the last one surprised me.  I’m going to keep this short since I just returned, and I hope these can be help you figure out if you need a vacation too.

First, I was having a hard time staying motivated.  I’m sure everyone knows moments where they are “supposed” to be working, but you just can’t find the energy or the focus to actually do it.  Often you may view this as “lack of discipline” or worst, outright “laziness”.  But could this lack of energy and focus be your body’s early warning sign that you need some rest?  Your body is a wonderful tool which gives you a lot of helpful information.  So when your body gives you a message that your mind doesn’t like, don’t try to overrule it.  Listen.

When we see kids that are “cranky” we naturally assume that they are tired and need rest.  When we see adults that are “cranky” we naturally assume they are mean people.  When did the link between irritability and the need for rest become separated in our minds?  If you notice that your temper is getting triggered easily, that you’re stressed by the slightest wrinkle in your plans, or that small annoyances are blown out of proportion, then you could really use some rest.  Don’t judge yourself for your irritability; treat yourself to some rest and relaxation.

Potentially the most surprising sign that we need a vacation is that we’ve become addicted to work.  I am a big fan of productivity and accomplishment.  Potentially too big a fan.  Have you ever been jumping from big project to big project without even a thought to taking a break in between?  Have you ever been so focused on getting work done, that you’ve neglected other aspects of your life?  Work and accomplishment can be so addictive that we lose ourselves to it.  And while riding the wave you may feel like you have boundless energy, the constant stream of work is taking its toll.  So make sure to build in time to savor the completion of a big project, take time to appreciate and celebrate, and take time to rest before the next big one.

A final note.  You may define a “vacation” as taking a trip to some exotic or fun-filled location other than your home.  I want to suggest that this definition may be a limiting one.  You could define a “vacation” as any time you take to truly relax.  Many people waste their relaxation time worrying about the future, brooding over stressors, or being lost in the past.  Vacations are these moments where we are completely in the moment, usually because the moment is a novel one.  But you can be completely in the moment and relaxing in your hammock in the backyard, or on your living room sofa, or out on the town.  The healing power of vacations doesn’t come from where they happen, it comes from having time to be in the moment and truly relax.  Don’t let lack of time off, lack of preparation, lack of transportation, lack of destination, or lack of funds stop you from taking a vacation right now.

KindCommunication.org is a project by a close friend of Wiki World Order, Alex Leach. WWO fully supports the study, practice, and teaching of non-violent communication as one of the core solutions which already exists.

Tragedy and Hope Media Mail / This Week’s Publications 7.12.2014

Re-posted from the amazing Tragedy and Hope Community, my favorite source for alternative thought and information in the world. Please check it out, sign up, participate, and support today!
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