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.

Embracing it All – by Kind Communication

Re-posted From: http://KindCommunication.org/2014/06/29/embracing-it-all/

I do this thing, and tell me if you do it too.  I often find that I try to avoid, transmute, “heal”, or “transcend” my negative, “bad”, emotions in order that I may spend more time in the positive, “good”, emotions.  I don’t want to feel angry, disappointed, bored, sad, or scared.  I imagine to myself “if I meditate enough…if I practice NVC enough….if I am present enough…if I am compassionate enough…if I’m enlightened…if I’m saved…if I’m fully healed…then I will no longer have any of these painful feelings.”  I hope to reach a state where I will have two emotions: contentment and joy.  And that’s it.

I think the reasons I do this are many fold.  I’ve encountered numerous religious/spiritual faiths and traditions that teach me that the elimination of suffering is possible, and that if one can live within the divine then every day is a blessing.  I’ve grown up in a culture where negative emotions are viewed as “less desirable”, as “unflattering”, and “avoidable”.  And of course, emotions like disappointment, anger, and sadness are painful!  And so I’ve quite naturally wanted less pain in my life and more pleasure.

And it has come to my attention that this approach to life is misguided.  And so if you are like me in that you too have consciously or unconsciously been trying to have only positive emotions and eliminate all the negative ones, then let me share with you some important words.

You are big enough to be with the discomfort, the pain, of negative emotions.

You do not need to “get” anywhere; you are already the person you are meant to be.  If you don’t believe this it is only because you have created ideal images of humanity and then used those ideals against yourself.

You are whole when you embrace your positive and your negative emotions.

You are not meant to have a blissful experience, you are meant to have a human experience.

You might not like these words because you may not want to embrace these hard, difficult, painful feelings.  That’s okay.  Can you embrace in this moment the fact that you are resisting and don’t want to feel painful emotions?  And if you find these words liberating I am pleased.  Learn to accept all moments of life, the pleasure and the pain.  Painful emotions are not undesirable or to be avoided.

If you’re mad, be mad.  If you’re scared, be scared.  If you’re sad, be sad.  Don’t tell yourself that you should be feeling anything different, and don’t listen to anyone who tells you that you should or can feel something different.  Be true to yourself.

This of course is difficult to do, and it takes practice.  But the result is a rich life and a more authentic you.  It is probably a life long journey, but along the way you will see such marvelous things.  Please join me in embracing it all.

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.

Debating or Relating – by Kind Communication

Re-posted From: http://KindCommunication.org/2014/06/15/debating-or-relating/

“No, no, no.  I called you first, and we talked…then you decided to go out anyways!”

“What??  That’s completely wrong!  You didn’t call me till after I was already out.”

“Really?  How could you be so dumb?  Look I’ll show you my phone to prove it.”

“Sure, let’s see.”

These two people are debating.  They are arguing over who is right and who is wrong.  The argument hinges upon who can remember the facts better.  Have you ever been stuck in this kind of conflict?  Both you and the other person are convinced you are right, and the other person is wrong.  And you are both set out to prove it.

As long as you and another person are debating over whose right and whose wrong you are stuck.  No one wants to be wrong, so both of you will dig in your heels, trying even harder to prove yourself right.  Often you’ll both walk away without ever resolving the issue.  If the issue does get resolved through debate, then one person must have been proven “wrong”.  That person now feels shame and resentment.  And now the relationship, the trust, has been damaged in some way.

Wanting to debate comes from the idea that there should be a “winner” and a “loser” in a fight.  That one person needs to come out on top, and the other person needs to submit.  That there is some absolute truth which one side knows about and the other side is at best ignorant about and at worst is lying about.

Relating is a whole different way of engaging.  Instead of proving whose right and whose wrong, what’s true and what’s false, you simply want to share with this other person who you are.  You want to share with this person your feelings, concerns, and desires as well as hear what is going on for the other person.  When you relate with someone you both acknowledge and respect that you are different people and may have different experiences of the same incident.  And from a mutual understanding of each other you can both find solutions that leave everyone happy.

Wanting to relate comes from the idea that conflicts really can be “win-win” as opposed to “win-lose”.  Everyone’s needs deserve to be met, and can probably be met.  Relating comes from the belief that solutions to issues are found from understanding all sides of the issue, and that each one of us have a glimpse of just one angle on the issue.  So together we can get a full picture of the issue.

Relating looks incredibly different than the opening example.

“I’m worried that you went out knowing that I had asked you to stay in.  And I’m scared that I can’t trust you.”

“I get that you’re worried about being able to trust me, and I’m upset and mad because I want you to trust me.  I really just wanted to go out and have fun…I want to be able to go out and relax with friends without having to ask for permission.”

“I know you want to be able to relax with your friends and I also want you to feel free and not relying upon me for permission.  I would also like though some reassurance and respect because I worry about you.”

The fundamental shift is not about using certain tools or methods over others.  The fundamental shift comes from an inward reorientation from having to be right to wanting to understand.

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.

Chain Reaction – by Kind Communication

Re-posted From: http://KindCommunication.org/2014/06/01/chain-reaction/

Put out fear, and they’ll feel fear.
It’s a chain reaction.
Put out love, and they’ll feel love.
It’s a chain reaction.
-Cloud Cult

These words come from a song that I deeply cherish.  I think these words capture the real essence of Nonviolent Communication.  Any of you readers who own dogs will know the truth of these words too.

I wonder though, what does this truth teach us about living in the world?

The first reaction in our modern world is to try to understand these words literally.  ”Well clearly it says you should always put out love, and whenever you put out fear you should only expect more fear.”  But if we take a few moments to examine that we see that’s just one more obligation, one more “have to”/”should” statement.   And as with any “should” thought, if we buy into it we only create more suffering in our lives.

So if these lyrics aren’t telling us what we ought to do or should do, then what can they be teaching us?  Well, first they point to a simple truth about empathy.  Empathy is this experiencing what another person is experiencing.  This can be a conscious act, but it often times is something that happens without our awareness.

We watch a sad movie and suddenly are whole lives are just terrible.  You watch a silly rom-com and all your blues melt away.  Emotions are contagious.

With that knowledge, you can be aware of what situations you allow yourself to be exposed to.  With more awareness of your environment and how it is affecting you, you may be able to make choices that better serve your needs.  If you’re feeling tired and stressed from a long day at work, it may not be the best time to have that important conversation with your spouse or child.  If you’ve just had a very difficult and challenging conversation with someone, you may need to rest before engaging in the next conversation.  The people around us affect us.  When you are with this person, do you walk away feeling refreshed or drained?  What does that tell you about whether you want to keep being around them?

If you are aware of your environment and how it affects you, then you also know how to change your environment to shift your feelings.

And in some ways this is simply what the process of identifying your needs is.  It is the process of identifying what in the current environment isn’t working for you and then figuring out what could happen in the environment that would make life more beautiful.

But don’t think this means you are simply a product of your environment.  You have agency too.  When a hospice chaplain enters a patient’s room, she helps that patient have more peace and acceptance about their situation by entering the room with peace and acceptance in her own heart.  You can help your spouse, your kids, your friend calm down when they’re upset by approaching them with love and acceptance.

Notice the chain reactions in your day.  Notice how other people and your environment affect you today.  Notice how you affect others when you are feeling one way and then when you’re feeling a different way.  Notice the interconnection, the chain reaction, of every moment.

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.

Emotional Fatigue – by Kind Communication

Re-posted From: http://KindCommunication.org/2014/05/18/emotional-fatigue/

We can’t be at our best all the time.

Sometimes there are moments when I just can’t bring myself to give someone empathy.  Or I can’t slow myself down and be present enough to share my feelings and needs, leaving out my judgments and evaluations.  Or I find that I feel so much distress that I can’t help but make a demand.

When I first started learning Nonviolent Communication I would judge myself harshly for these moments.  ”I blew it again” or “I know better, why don’t I do better?” or even simply “I suck”.

Sound familiar?

But judging myself in those moments only pushed me deeper into sadness, confusion, anger, and feeling defeated.  Those judgments of myself didn’t meet my needs for compassion, integrity, understanding, or support at all.  And so as I’ve grown in my understanding and using of Nonviolent Communication I’ve come to accept these moments where I can’t choose the strategy of NVC as moments of “emotional fatigue”.

Emotional fatigue is something that is temporary and can be addressed.  If it isn’t though, it can quickly evolve into full on burn out.  So when I notice that I’m emotionally drained, I ask myself “what are my needs right now?”  Often what comes up is rejuvenation, rest, relaxation, empathy…sometimes connection and sometimes space…sometimes peace and sometimes play.

What would this look like for you?  What if the next time you snap at a friend or co-worker, the next time you make a demand to your kids, or the next time you try to fix your partner’s problems instead of giving empathy, you stopped and realized that you might be experiencing some emotional fatigue?  That you might just not have the energy in this moment to be fully present, honest, and compassionate.  And what would it look like for you if you didn’t judge yourself for that, but rather was curious about what could help you feel more rejuvenated?

You are not a superhero.  You are not an enlightened guru.  You are not perfect.  And that is okay.  Be curious about yourself.  What helps you to relax and recharge?  Why are you trying to “push through” instead of “taking space” for yourself?  Why are you holding yourself to unreasonable ideals?

We are most capable of helping other’s meet their needs when our own needs are satisfied.

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.

Why Do You Do What You Do? – by Kind Communication

Re-posted From: http://KindCommunication.org/2014/05/04/why-do-you-do-what-you-do/

When you give your partner a kiss…when you offer to help a friend move furniture…when you engage in a friendly conversation with a stranger on a bus…when you start teaching communication classes in your local community…why do you do it?

Why do you do the things you do?

There are lots of answers to this question.  And those answers may be complex and vary from one activity to the next.  But I’d like to invite you to investigate your more fundamental motivations.  We all have something deep down that’s driving us.  Some of us are seeking approval, others are trying to be a “good” person, and yet others are just trying to be their most authentic, truest, self.  Which is yours?

If you’re doing it for approval, then you’re probably thinking to yourself “what does this person think of me?”  I used to seek approval in my relationships.  I needed my partner to give me their approval for me to be content.  When I was trying to make a decision I would ask myself “what would she want me to say or do?”  That’s the indication if the motivation behind your actions is to seek approval.  If when you’re trying to make a decision the deciding factor is “what would he/she/they want me to do?”

If you’re doing it to be a “good” person, then you’re probably thinking to yourself “was that the right thing to do?”  When I tell myself that there is a “right” thing to do and a “wrong” thing to do, I really get myself in a bind.  I’ll judge myself; put myself down, for just wanting to do the “wrong” thing.  I constantly see myself as “not good enough” because I don’t always do the “right” thing.  Is any of this sounding familiar?  Then you’re motivation behind your actions may be to be a “good” person.  To emulate some ideal standard of doing it “right”.

If you’re doing it to be your most authentic, truest, self, then you’re probably thinking to yourself “is this deeply satisfying?”  When your motivation is to express your authentic self there doesn’t need to be any guess work about what others will approve of or what’s “right or wrong”.  You only have to listen to what is deeply satisfying to yourself.  Does this activity give you deep satisfying joy?  Or does it feel like drudgery?  Is it a temporary pleasure that leaves you with an uncomfortable craving for more?

Our motivations are always complex things.  But this last option, wanting to just express your truest self, makes it much simpler.  Yes, I like to receive approval.  Yes, I like to feel like I’m a “good” person.  But with both of those, I find that they are temporary pleasures that leave me craving for more.  When my motivation is to be accepted, I’m never accepted enough because there are always new people whom I have to win approval from.  When my motivation is to be “good”, I’m never “good” enough because there is always that moment when I don’t do the “right” thing.  But when my motivation is to express my truest self, then I can be content because I can rest assured that I’ve done that, no matter what the outcome.

Why do you do what you do?

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.

Vulnerability proceeds Transformation – by Kind Communication

Re-posted From: http://KindCommunication.org/2014/04/19/vulnerability-proceeds-transformation/

Vulnerability is the key to liberation and transformation.  Are you scared yet?  It’s an uncomfortable truth.  Few of us really enjoy being vulnerable, either with ourselves or with others.  Because when you’re vulnerable you’re no longer in control of the situation.  When you choose to be vulnerable, you are choosing to not control or manage how you appear to others or to yourself.  You are instead choosing to be completely honest with yourself and others.

Being completely real with yourself or others is very challenging though.  When you think about telling a loved one that you feel hurt or disappointed, you probably feel afraid of being attacked.  You’re scared of being rejected by this person, and losing the relationship, and so you hide your truth.  Allow me to give a short story of how being vulnerable with myself is challenging:

Recently I had been working with someone and I was finding that I was getting really upset in the relationship.  For a while I got by on blaming the other person for this.  I’d tell myself “they’re not committed to the work” and “they aren’t trying hard enough”.  But then suddenly I realized that I had become attached to the belief “I have to help this person heal”.

This was a moment of vulnerability with myself.  I got more real with myself; I was being more honest with myself.  I was angry not because of what this person was or wasn’t doing, I was angry because I believed it was my duty, my obligation, to heal this person.

And of course what followed that moment of vulnerability was a tidal wave of shame.  I suddenly heard in my head “You should know better Alex!  You don’t try to fix or change people.  That doesn’t work, and it only creates resentment.  Isn’t that what you tell your clients?  Why can’t you follow your own advice?  You’re not fit to do this work, and you don’t even practice it.  You’re terrible.”  I felt horrible about myself.

This shame reaction is why most of us don’t allow ourselves to be vulnerable with ourselves.  If you’re open and honest with yourself, you may not like what we see and discover, and you might withdraw your love from yourself.  And if I judge, criticize, and put myself down for being attached to trying to fix this person, then won’t all the people reading this blog also judge, criticize, and put me down?  Better to go back to lying to you my reader and to myself: “yeah, it’s totally this other person’s fault that I’m upset.”

But when I allow myself to go back to lying, to controlling and managing how you and I perceive me, then I don’t allow the transformation to occur.  So if I take a few deep breathes and once again admit “I feel like I have to help heal this person”, and this time sit with it, something happens.  A little light goes off in my head.  ”Oh, I don’t have to do that.  Actually that isn’t my responsibility, and it certainly isn’t my obligation.”

And that’s the transformation.  When I was honest with myself about my attachment to “fixing” this other person, the attachment went away.  I saw that I had a choice, and that I could choose to not try to fix them.  That instead I could choose to accept them as they are.  And when I do that, I’m not angry with them anymore.

What are you hiding from others or from yourself?  What could you be more honest about?  Try being more vulnerable about that, and see what transformation occurs for you.

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.

The Power of Choice – by Kind Communication

Re-posted From: http://KindCommunication.org/2014/04/06/the-power-of-choice/

You choose who you spend time with.  You choose what you spend your time doing.  You choose what you eat, you choose when you sleep.  You choose to feel disappointed when you’ve been stood up, and you choose to feel relieved that you’re not on a date with someone who doesn’t really want to be there.

You probably agree that you have choice about those first examples, how and with whom you spend your time.  But I imagine that you might have been surprised by the last example.  ”I choose to feel disappointed or relieved about being stood up??”

But that is the real power of choice.  You actually have choice in what your experience is like in this moment.  You are already choosing whether you agree and enjoy what I’m writing, or if you disagree and think I’m full of it, or if you’re curious and want to read more.  All of those are options and you are presently choosing one of them.

But that isn’t how we normally think about our experience.  We don’t usually look at our experience as a result of our choices, but rather as a result of something that is happening to us.  And let me go through three reasons why that is.

First, many of you probably experience emotions as a knee jerk, automatic response which you have no control over.  ”It’s just how I feel.”  But your emotions really arise from the combination of your needs or values being met or unmet, as well as the beliefs you hold about the situation.  You get stood up on a date.  You’re desire for connection, fun, and the potential for intimacy are all thwarted.  That’s real.  You also tell yourself a story that this person is a jerk, or that you will never find love.  That’s a story you’re constructing.  If you think your emotions are an automatic response that you have no control over, then begin by gaining more awareness around what stories or beliefs you are holding.  Slow down.  Take time each day or each week to journal about moments where you felt happy or sad.  See if you can identify what needs or desires of yours were met or unmet.  Then see if you can identify the story or belief you have about the situation.

The second thing is that our choices are habit forming.  If I choose to sit at home, eat ice cream, and watch TV every day after work, it becomes a habit.  I start doing it on autopilot.  It then becomes a real struggle for me to undo that habit and head to the gym.  Your choices create a sort of motor memory.  If you find that you have awareness around what is causing your emotions, the needs and the beliefs, but still struggle with making different choices I want to encourage you to have perseverance.  The only way you create a new habit is by repeating a new set of choices.

Finally, some of you may not want to take on the responsibility that comes with the power of choice.  There’s the classic saying “with great power comes great responsibility”.  If I can choose to feel lousy or choose to feel at peace then I have the choice to make my life a living hell or heaven on Earth.  That’s powerful!  And it means you’re responsible, you’re in charge.  If I see my partner as a horrible jerk, that is my choice.  And since it is my choice, then I am responsible for seeing my partner in that way.  And so you must own your own responsibility for your experience.  Owning that responsibility is unnerving.  Instead we like to blame, judge, or stick it on someone else.  But the truth is that the person who is responsible for your experience is you.

I help clients reclaim their power of choice by helping them build their awareness, providing patient, loving, support as they practice new choices, and by helping them own their responsibility in making their choices.  It can be challenging work, but I see how in the end it gives people the power and freedom that they’ve always wanted.

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.

Resolving Conflicts in your Communities: Two Rules of Thumb – by Kind Communication

Re-posted From: http://KindCommunication.org/2014/03/23/resolving-conflicts-in-your-communities-two-rules-of-thumb/

We all live in communities of people.  Your community may be your group of friends, or it may be your family, or it may be around some social gathering like a church, sport event, or a social establishment.  And something that comes up for all of us that live in communities is conflict.

So how do you deal with your community’s conflict?  What do you do when you’re friends start fighting?  What do you do when one family member won’t speak with another?  What do you do when your gym buddy wants to exercise with a new gym buddy?

There are two rules of thumb that I use to address this:

Number one: Listen.  We often think we know what the other person wants or is thinking.  But even if we do, there is value in letting the other person share their story.  The other night one of my housemates and I were starting to get into an argument.  He was expressing his view, and I knew where he was going, so I would cut him off for “efficiency” and explain how I saw the world.  I didn’t think I needed to let him express his full thought because I already knew where he was going, and I already had an answer.  Save us five minutes.

But it didn’t work very well.  The more I cut in, the more he dug his heels into his position.  Finally, it dawned on me to stop and listen.  I said “okay, let’s just say you’re right.  What follows from that?”  He then explained where he was going, and low and behold I was “right”.  I had guessed it.  But then something surprising happened.  After I listened to him he changed.  After he’d felt fully expressed and heard he moved.  He suddenly saw the value in what I was saying, and he was even surprised at how he was changing in that moment.

Now I’m not saying that every time we fully listen to someone that they’re going to start agreeing with us.  But I am saying that there was intrinsic value in the listening for my housemate, there was intrinsic value in feeling expressed and heard.  And that experience drew him into deeper connection with me.

Number two: listen for the underlying values.  Often we feel overwhelmed by conflicts in our communities because the opposing sides seem to want drastically different things.  In a group of friends one may want to watch a comedy while another wants to watch a drama.  In families one person thinks this is the way to live, and the other person thinks the exact opposite.  And we feel overwhelmed by this conflict in part because we get stuck at this level of wants instead of listening for the underlying needs.

A quick example of this:  I have two friends who were fighting.  They both ended up at the same party.  One demanded “he has to leave!”  The other replied “I have every right to be here.”  Now of course it seems like they want completely opposite things, and that one has to “win” and the other “lose”.  But once I got them apart from one another, I could listen for the underlying value in what each wanted.  One friend wanted space, peace, and fun.  The other friend wanted respect, autonomy, and also fun.  And with that it became clear.  As long as they didn’t interact at the party, the one friend would have the space and peace she wanted, and the other friend could stay at the party and thus feel respected and autonomous.  And guess what, they both had fun.

Once we live in communities where everyone feels safe to express themselves, and people are secure enough in themselves to listen, we’ll see that conflicts are natural and healthy for our mutual growth.

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.

Three Ways to Lower your Anxiety – by Kind Communication

Re-posted From: http://KindCommunication.org/2014/03/09/three-ways-to-lower-your-anxiety/

Anxiety.

I have a lot of personal experience with this.  Anxiety can come in lots of different forms.  Some can’t fall asleep because their minds won’t quiet down.  Others wake up with their heart pounding and this intense feeling of fear.  Some people go through their whole day with this background noise of fear and being on edge.  And still others are so full of anxiety that they can’t even get out of bed.  I’ve experienced all of these and more.

Of course all of us experience anxiety at one point or another.  But I want to talk about what you can do when you have this unnecessary, irrational anxiety which gets in the way of you enjoying life.  And the good news is there are ways to reduce your anxiety and to live a more peaceful and joyful life.  Let me give you three.

The first is to get into the present moment.  A lot of our anxiety is caused by what I call “future tripping”.  Our minds are feverishly thinking about the future, what might happen (or what will probably happen), instead of just being here in this moment.  For example, earlier this week I had a big meeting for my career.  I was feeling a lot of anxiety about it because I was preoccupied with what might happen.  ”Will it go well?”  ”Will I look like an idiot?”  And then someone reminded me that it wasn’t happening yet, and that right in this moment I was fine and there was nothing I could do about it now.

This is different than “just don’t worry about it”.  ”Just don’t worry about it” doesn’t work because it is a negative statement.  It says stop doing what you’re doing.  But it doesn’t offer you an alternative.  Getting into the present moment is an active process.  You have to actually do something.  Try for a moment to close your eyes and put all your focus on your breath.  Notice how quickly your mind goes to some thought.  And notice what you have to do, what kind of effort it takes, to interrupt that thought and bring your focus back to your breathing.  That’s getting into the present moment.  It’s a skill that we must practice.

The second thing you can do is figure out what you’re really scared of.  Even in generalized, all pervasive anxiety, our mind is telling us a story that is causing us fear.  And that story is often untrue.  This took a long time for me to figure out.  In High School I pretty much had a constant state of anxiety going on.  It wasn’t “about” anything.  I was just anxious and on edge all the time.  It took 11 years before I finally realized that this generalized anxiety was a fear of being unlovable.  I was constantly afraid that I would do something, or not do something, which would “prove” I was not worthy of love.  But I don’t want it to take you 11 years to figure out what you’re scared of.  Just try to name one thing you’re scared of.  It can be something that seems “too small”.  Get a partner to help you with this.  Tell them what you’re scared of.  Their instruction is to do one thing, ask you the same question over and over again “and why is that scary?”  Have them ask you that question after every answer you give for 7 minutes.  At some point in those 7 minutes you’ll probably be surprised by what you say.  That’s the story your mind is telling.

Finally, notice how anxiety involves a high amount of energy in your body.  Remember your physics class “energy can neither be created nor destroyed, but can change form”.  Ignoring that energy in your body is like trying to destroy it.  This sounds counterintuitive, but what you need to do is go into the energy.  But how?  Well notice where you feel the energy in your body.  Is it in your chest?  Your arms?  Your legs?  Your shoulders?  Where do you feel it?  Once you identify where it is in your body, allow that part of your body to just express the energy.  If it’s in your legs go for a run.  If it’s in your arms shake them out.  If it’s in your shoulders roll them.  Do something that allows the energy to change form, to be expressed and discharged.

There are lots of other ways I know of to help you reduce your anxiety.  And the problem with anxiety is it often makes it difficult for us to focus on our own.  We often need help to stay focused with any of these interventions.  If you’d like some support, please feel free to contact me. :)

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.

Three Steps to Healing Mental Wounds – by Kind Communication

Re-posted From: http://KindCommunication.org/2014/02/23/three-steps-to-healing-mental-wounds/

Unhealed wounds are sensitive to the touch.

And while physical wounds, a cut or a scrap, heal naturally and quite quickly…mental wounds can last and last.

What’s a mental wound?  Well, it’s that moment when someone says something and suddenly you’re full of anger.  ”How dare they say that to me!”  ”What a stupid jerk!”  Or it’s that moment when something goes wrong and your internal world crumbles. “I should have known better.”  ”I’m such a mess.”  It’s the situations or types of interactions that you avoid like the plague.  Or it’s when you shut down; you wall up inside yourself, and stay hidden away until the coast is clear.

All of these reactions are symptoms of mental wounds which are still sensitive to the touch.  That’s because our natural mental healing often is interrupted and not supported.  In fact these “symptoms” are also stopping us from healing it up.  

It’s like if you cut your finger and then keep it covered in mud.  The wound only gets more infected.

It’s the same with these mental wounds.  You get hurt, and you do something you think will help like blame yourself, blame the other person, or withdraw, but it ends up being a bunch of mud on a cut finger.

But it’s okay…because unlike the finger our mental wounds can be healed at any moment.

Just the other night my partner and I got lost in a conflict.  We were reading a book aloud to each other, and had a disagreement about how to interpret a paragraph we’d read.  And what started as a simple disagreement, quickly turned into her and I completely disconnected and shut down from one another.

As I reflect upon this incident, I’m embarrassed to share that I was reacting from this wounded place of “needing” to be seen as smart, “needing” to teach, and “needing” to be right.  It startled me when I finally could see it.  It made sense that the only way I knew how to avoid feeling that pain, was to take on this role of “know it all”, this habit of “teaching to” and “dismissing dissent”.  When my opinions and interpretations were challenged as “wrong” (my perception, not my partner’s intention), I had to either feel the pain of being seen as wrong and “stupid”…or I could assert my “rightness” and my intelligence.  The later feels so much more comfortable.

How do we heal then?  How can we get to a point where these mental wounds aren’t so sensitive?

Recognize that you’re reacting to something in the past.  You’re switching to auto-pilot.  You’re acting off of an old, outdated script.  Whatever helps you see that you’re reacting to something much deeper than what’s happening in the moment.

Allow yourself to get in touch with, and accept, the pain that’s really there.  It’s a wound, it hurts!  This is usually the hardest part for people; this is often where people stop.  The reason you’ve reacted the way you have in the past is to avoid feeling the pain that’s there.  Once you stop doing the behavior, you can begin to heal, but that does mean the pain often comes up.

Gain the skills, resources, or insightful liberation that will help you be here in the moment, and not stuck in the past.  After the pain has faded away…your mind is free to explore what’s possible once the wound is healed.  You build up the once wounded muscle.  You allow new, healthier, beliefs form like fresh skin.

Finally, I share my story with you because my prayer is that you don’t spend one minute judging yourself or putting yourself down for this.  It doesn’t mean something is wrong with you.  We all have these mental wounds.  I am in it with you.  Don’t be intimidated or scared to reach out for a supportive hand.

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.

Three Questions to Distinguish Remorse from Feeling Fundamentally Wrong – by Kind Communication

Re-posted From: http://KindCommunication.org/2014/02/09/three-questions-to-distinguish-remorse-from-feeling-fundamentally-wrong/

We all make mistakes.  Of course.  I have made them, and so have you.  And sometimes I have made my mistakes into bigger problems than they really were.

“Making a mountain out of a mole hill.”

The expression says it all.  I’ve become really convinced that my mistake was a “catastrophe” or at least “really wrong”.  If you ask me about how I’m feeling I say “guilty” or “disappointed” or simply “bad”.  And really I’m saying “I feel shame.  I feel like I’m a failure, and I’m scared that you might look down on me.”

Sound familiar?  Maybe not, and that’s fantastic.  But many of you may know this experience all too well.  What’s tricky about it is that of course you want to “do better next time”.  You “want to learn from my mistakes”.  Or you “want to take responsibility for my actions.”  You “ought to feel guilty, disappointed, or regret when you do something wrong”.

All these beliefs make it hard for you to realize when you’re overblowing the significance of the mistake.  Some of you may have heard of the feeling of “shame” or “the inner critic” or “feeling unworthy”.  There is a significant difference between feeling regret and seeing yourself as fundamentally wrong.

But like I said above, it can be difficult to distinguish the difference so here are three questions to ask yourself to see if you’re feeling genuine remorse or fundamentally wrong:

First, how do I feel?  If I notice that my feelings of disappointment color everything, that nothing seems “right”, that’s feeling fundamentally wrong.  And when I feel remorse, I certainly do feel sad and disappointed.  I’m definitely not happy.  But I am able to take my attention off of the mistake for a while.  I can actually be cheered up.  When I’m so despondent I can’t be reached by anyone’s encouragement or support, I’m definitely feeling worthless and not simple remorse.

Second, I ask myself “am I okay?”  I don’t mean “am I going to be okay?” or a reassuring “you still have your health and life.”  ”Am I okay” right here in the present moment.  The specific question I use may not relate to you, but you have to be honest with yourself about whether in this moment you feel wrong, bad, like a failure, shame, or unworthy.  Some other variations on this question you might find more useful: “am I acceptable?”  or “am I good?”  or “am I loveable?”

Third, can you see the good in what you were trying to do?  Everything we do is in an attempt to fulfill our natural values or needs.  If you can see what the positive values or needs you were trying to meet for yourself, then you’re feeling natural remorse.  But if it seems like you had malicious intentions all along, that’s this feeling of being fundamentally wrong.  Genuine remorse is not just noticing that what you tried to do failed in some way, it is also noticing what you wanted to achieve and why you thought what you did would achieve that.  Genuine remorse gives you room to learn, to grow, to improve.  Feeling fundamentally wrong prevents all that.

It’s important to distinguish genuine remorse from feeling fundamentally wrong.  Recognizing that you’re feeling fundamentally wrong will help you realize that you’re experiencing unnecessary suffering.  That you can become liberated from that suffering while still able to learn from your mistakes.  Honest, compassion self-evaluation is possible.  And the first step is noticing when you’re self-evaluation is skewed.

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.

Three Steps to Embracing Your Whole Self – by Kind Communication

Re-posted From: http://KindCommunication.org/2014/01/26/three-steps-to-embracing-your-whole-self/

The parts of you that you reject the most fiercely.  The parts of you that you feel the most shame about.  The parts of others that you hate most vehemently.  All of these are in truth your deepest friends, they need to be embraced, and they actually will enrich your life.

Some people call these parts our “shadow self”.  Your shadow self is the parts of yourself which you reject, deny, and do not identify with.  We refuse to acknowledge and accept this shadow self as part of who we are.  And when you do that, when you reject a part of yourself, then it is impossible for you to truly embrace your whole self.

Allow me make an example of myself.  When I was living and working in Washington D.C., there was a part of me that really wanted to leave.  It wanted to move to a small, liberal, “hippie” town either on the West Coast or in New England and “disappear”.  It dreamed of working a quite job like at a family owned book store or grocery.  This dream had started before I had graduated college, but I refused to listen to it.  Instead I listened to my friends, culture, and family’s insistence on what I “should” do.  That I should get a good job that’s respected in the eyes of others and “pays well”.  That I should pursue a career that used my talents and abilities, and channeled my passion for social change.  That I should work a job I hated because it was better than being unemployed.

There are two primary ways ignoring your shadow self can manifest.  One is rage.  You judge, evaluate, blame, and criticize anyone who shares in the qualities which you deny you have.  The other is depression.  You judge, evaluate, blame, and criticize yourself such that you feel small and insignificant.

I experienced both.  Whenever I was in the office I would hold my co-workers in contempt.  I would judge them as lost and misguided.  I judged them as being only interested in money and power.  I even judged the whole city as corrupt, poisonous, and oppressive.  By judging them I was able to hold these qualities of being misguided, lost, and driven by social approval and money as things that were “not me”.  It helped me feel self-righteous.  They were the lost ones, not me.  They were the misguided ones, not me.  They were the money and power hungry, not me.

And then when I was at home I sank into a depression.  I drank heavily to drown out my feelings of loneliness, isolation, and disconnection.  I would stare at the ceiling, or at the mindless video game, crying inwardly.  I felt horrible.  I noticed how empty my daily life felt.

But there are three ways to turn this around.  First, you need to start where you’re at.  If you’re judging others start there.  If you’re judging yourself start there.  Notice what you are doing to contribute to your suffering.  Second, see that as your friend.  The judgment of others or yourself has a friendly intention.  But that intention has simply become blurred by the immense frustration brought on by denial and rejection.  Finally, listen to, accept, and learn from the feelings and needs within it.

In the very moment that I got laid off I felt this joy and freedom in my chest that I hadn’t felt in a long time.  I stopped resisting it, I didn’t go home and drink away my feelings, and I didn’t numb my brain with video games.  I saw this feeling within me as my friend, as wanting something more for me.  And so I stopped and listened.  I listened to my racing heart; I could hear its yearning to leave.  I learned that what I really wanted was a quiet, simple, low-key living environment.  That I wanted to do work that was embedded within a context of compassion and understanding.  I learned that it was I who had become lost and misguided.  It was I who had become more concerned with money and social acceptance than listening to my own heart.  And I learnt that I was deeply sad and lonely.  And when I accepted that I had to move.  I visited some towns, pick one, and left.  My depression and rage began to lift, and slowly but surely I came to embrace my whole self.

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.

VoluntaryVisions.com

Darrell Becker’s http://VoluntaryVisions.com/ is now live! The newest site tied to the Tragedy And Hope community focused on the Trivium method of Critical Thinking, Voluntary Communication, Non-Aggression Principle, and more. Equipped with audio archive to easily access all his interviews. Web site, illustrations, and animations by Wiki World Order If his work resonates with you, please consider donating to help kick-start his upcoming book

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