You’re Not Alone in Your Pain – by Kind Communication

KindCommunication.orgRe-posted From: http://KindCommunication.org/2014/12/14/youre-not-alone-in-your-pain/

If I am not for myself, who is for me?

If I am only for myself, who am I?

And if not now, when?

-Hillel

I’ve been leading a free Davis Compassionate Communication Practice Group for over two years now.  And I’ve been leading classes in Davis and Sacramento for about as long.  And one thing that I’m always impressed by is the simple healing that happens when people get a chance to merely share their pain with a group, and discover that they are not alone.

I’m in awe when a participant raises their hand, and with tears in their eyes, says “I have so much relief knowing that I am not alone with my pain.  Knowing that others struggle with the same thing I struggle with makes it easier to accept it.”  Whether it’s difficulty accessing and connecting with one’s emotions, accepting their own self unconditionally, or trying to lay aside judgment and blame.

Pain is isolating.  Our culture shames people out of sharing their stories with one another.  Need proof?  What does our culture say about people who are struggling with addictions?  What does our culture say about people who lose their temper, and yell and scream at their family?  What does our culture say about having persistent moods of sadness, anxiety, or anger?

I see our culture labeling these people as having a “problem”.  That there’s something “wrong” and that it “needs to be fixed”.  And when I see depictions in movies or TV shows of people opening up to friends and family about these issues I see two kinds of responses.  ”You need to get help” and “well, let’s take your mind off of it.”

People who struggle with self-acceptance, healing old wounds, processing strong emotions, and being compassionate with others are truly having a human experience.  Recognizing these human experiences as shared experiences opens you up to seeing that life is bigger than just you, that you are connected to a much larger humanity than just yourself.

When you witness the end of someone’s tragic struggle with pain, have you ever thought or asked “why didn’t they tell anyone sooner?”  The answer is probably that they didn’t feel safe to share their pain.

Consider what your knee jerk response would be if a close friend, or family member, said to you “you know, sometimes I just really can’t let go of mistakes I’ve made.  It keeps me up at night, and when I’m alone and thinking about how much I’ve screwed up, I don’t really like myself.”  Or “I just blow up sometimes.  You know I try to avoid fighting; I try to keep my cool most of the time.  But then it just becomes too much and I yell and scream.  I feel really guilty about it.”

Would you respond with listening, showing empathy, inviting the other person to share more about what they’re feeling and what their experience is, and making it clear that you have unconditional acceptance for their experience?

Would you care deeply about them and a desire to help change their experience?  Would you direct them to “get help”, or to take some time to relax and think about something else?  Would you try to reassure them that they are “ok” and that they’re “not that bad”?

Would you be angry and upset with them, disappointed, and inform them of what you expect of them to be doing about their experience?

That first option creates the most safety for people to open up and share.  And if you would do the first option, how do you let people know you’d provide that space for them?  Do you share with others your own pain?  Do you model an awareness of emotions and empathy in even your regular conversation?

For people to feel safe sharing their pain, they need to know it is going to be received with acceptance, compassion, and empathy.

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.

Radical Self-Reliance – by Kind Communication

KindCommunication.orgRe-posted From: http://KindCommunication.org/2014/11/29/radical-self-reliance/

If I am not for myself, who is for me?

If I am only for myself, who am I?

And if not now, when?

-Hillel

This is a beautiful riddle by the first century Jewish Rabbi Hillel.  The opening line points us towards a deep truth.  I cannot rely upon others to meet my  needs.  When I make myself totally dependent on the good will (and often clairvoyance) of others, I am giving up my own power of self-reliance.

When you acknowledge that it is your responsibility to take care of your own needs you have power.  You can make choices of who to spend time with and what activities to engage in.  In fact, you are the only one responsible for taking care of your needs.  You may choose to enlist the help of others, and they may agree.  But just because a friend, family member, or partner agrees to help you out doesn’t make them responsible for your happiness and enjoyment of life.  The reason why is within the previous sentence.

It is your happiness and your enjoyment of life which is at stake when your needs are being met or unmet.  Blaming other people for your unhappiness and your lack of enjoyment in life is like thrusting your power into that person’s hands.  You become utterly powerless to help yourself when you’re stuck in the mindset of “it’s his/her fault”.

But before we become lost on the path of being egocentric, confusing that path with the path of self-reliance, Hillel has this second question.  ”If I am only for myself, who am I?”  While it is true that your needs are important, and that you are the only one who is responsible for making sure they are taken care of, it is also true that you do not live in a vacuum.

In fact many of your needs can only be met by being a part of a community of people.  Needs like belonging, community, companionship, and intimacy are all needs that really require being in relationship to other people.  But a one-way relationship is a doomed relationship.  The focus of the relationship can’t just be on one person, relationships needs to be mutual, a two-way street, in order to be sustainable.

So be self-reliant!  Value your needs, and make the choices necessary to ensure your own happiness and enjoyment of life.  No one will make those choices for you.  And be compassionate with others!  Take an interest in contributing to the needs of others, to helping them when they ask for help.  You cannot make it all on your own.

And when is the best time to become self-reliant?  When is the best time to start thinking about the concerns of others?  ”If not now, when?”

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.

Giving a Stellar Appreciation – by Kind Communication

KindCommunication.orgRe-posted From: http://KindCommunication.org/2014/11/17/giving-a-stellar-appreciation/

Thanksgiving is coming up.  And despite the holiday’s questionable history, it is a day that we are invited as a nation to give thanks.  To give gratitude and appreciation.  But unfortunately most of us don’t know how to give a really stellar appreciation.

Sure we know how to say “thank you”.  The phrase has been drilled into our heads ever since we first learned them.  That same social conditioning has also made those words hollow.  And have you ever noticed how when someone says to you “you’re the best ___!”  or “You are so ____” that the words just seem to bounce off your skin without getting through?   Yeah, it often feels the same way when you say those phrases to others.

But there is a way to give thanks with depth, meaning, and connection.

First, actually identify what you’re thankful for.  When we’re asked “what are you thankful for?” we answer with something vague.  ”My partner”, “my kids”, or “my pets”.  And while you certainly can be thankful that a certain person exists, more often we are thankful for specific things others have done for us.  For if this other person hasn’t every done anything you’re thankful for, then why are you thankful for them?

So get specific about what this other person did that you are thankful for.  Was it something they told you?  Some advice they gave?  Some moment of listening to you deeply?  Was it something they did for you?

Second, how did you feel in that moment?  What emotions come up for you?  Were you joyful, excited, happy, content, relaxed, etc?  Telling the other person your emotional experience opens them up.  It is a moment where you are being vulnerable with who you are, showing yourself to the other.  This invites the other person to take you seriously, to pay attention to what you’re sharing, and to connect.

Third, share with them what value, need, deep concern or desire it met for you.  Did you experience respect, appreciation, love, care, nurture, equality, peace, etc?  What is the value within you that resulted in your emotional experience?  Sharing this lets the other person know why this is important to you.  This can help them see the value in whatever they did or said to you.

Let me leave you an example of this as I give thanks to you the reader:

Thank you for reading this, and any other of my articles you’ve read.  Knowing that people read these articles lets me know that I’m having an opportunity to contribute something, to maybe even help you.  And I feel really excited and pleased about that.  So thank 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.

Focus on “The Process” more than “The Results” – by Kind Communication

KindCommunication.orgRe-posted From: http://KindCommunication.org/2014/10/16/what-are-you-responsible-for/

Process or results, what do you focus on?

Most of us focus on results.  We live in a culture that really emphasizes results.  Focusing on results means you are focused on the resolution of a problem, or getting what you want accomplished.  Results are tangible things we focus on.

So when you are focused on achieving your preferred resolution, “my partner will start spending more time with me on the weekends”, that is focusing on results.  Another kind of result might be “my parents will accept me for who I am”.  An example of focusing on personal results might be “I will no longer be crippled by anxiety” or “I will love and accept myself fully”.

But you don’t actually have control over these results.  All of them require not only your energy and dedication, but they also require the energy and dedication of others.  They may even require the right set of external circumstances to fall into place before that result will manifest itself.  Even the personal results.

Just to explore this a little further let’s take “I will no longer be crippled by anxiety”.  Not only does that require your own effort, but it may require that you have a supportive network of people in your life.  It may require that you don’t experience any new large traumas in life which leave you with new phobias or fears.  It may also require a change in your environment which may be difficult to pinpoint or difficult to change.  It may even require that you are “in the right place at the right time”, a very mysterious condition indeed.

So when you focus on the results you really are focusing on something that is outside of your personal control.  Process goals on the other hand are things that you actually do have control over.  Focusing on the process means that you are focused on doing what you actually can do to move towards a particular result.

In Nonviolent Communication, we really are focusing on the process rather than the results.  In NVC are goals are “to communicate my feelings and needs/values to this other person”, or “listening to the other with compassion”, or “making requests of the other person”.  This is a challenge to our whole cultural conditioning.  Our culture focuses on getting results.  NVC focuses on doing what you actually can accomplish.  And in doing that you let go of those things you can’t actually control.  All of a sudden your partner’s anger isn’t your responsibility to fix or resolve.  All you can do is either listen to them with empathy, or express to them how you feel and what your needs/values are when they are angry.

This isn’t naive thinking, this is reality.  All that you have control over is how you behave.  And so if you focus on the process, rather than the results, you may find that you have more energy to put into your actions, you have more satisfaction with what happens in life, and that you have less disappointment about unmet expectations.

But that’s not why I wrote this article.  If it was, then this would be a results orientated article.  My process goal in writing this article was to write something that was alive in my heart and mind in this moment.  And I accomplished that process goal.

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.

What Are You Responsible For? – by Kind Communication

KindCommunication.orgRe-posted From: http://KindCommunication.org/2014/10/16/what-are-you-responsible-for/

You are only responsible for one thing: what you do.

This seems simple and clear, and yet I find that a lot of people are confused about what they are responsible for.  Namely, many people I talk to think that they are responsible for how others perceive them, for how others feel, meeting others’ expectations and ideals, as well as for the circumstances of one’s life.

When I coach people on communicating with someone they’re upset with I hear “but then they’ll feel sad/angry/scared/upset.”  And I always respond “Yeah, they might…but that isn’t your responsibility.”  

How others react to what you do is really their responsibility, it isn’t up to you.  And when you try to take care of others’ feelings, in other words take responsibility for others’ feelings, you’re preventing yourself from having an authentic relationship with this other person.  You’ll get so caught up in the “responsibility game” that you won’t feel free to just be yourself, which will lead to high stress, feeling unseen and unheard, and suffering.

In fact, if you censor yourself for the sake of the other person’s feelings and preferences, then you are responsible for lying, making yourself small, and for being fake.

And there are other people who try to reject any sense of responsibility at all.  ”He made me do it” or “I had to make that choice, there was nothing else I could have done.”  I also coach people who try to escape any sense of responsibility, nothing is ever their fault, and their life circumstances force them to act in certain ways.  This is also a mistake.

When you try to deny your responsibility for your own actions, instead of becoming free, you actually lose your power and become trapped by your own story.  Having responsibility for your own actions is empowering, it gives you choice and choice means you have autonomy and power.  If you tell yourself that you have no choices, that others and circumstances force you to act in a certain way, then you have no autonomy and thus no power.

And so you have to strike a balance.  I am responsible for my choices and actions, but I am not responsible for how others react to me nor am I completely responsible for all of my life circumstances.  Taking on more responsibility than that makes you lose your freedom to be yourself.  Taking on less responsibility than that means you’re giving up your freedom to have choice.

And so really responsibility and freedom go hand in hand.  You really can’t have one without the other.  And this terrifies many people.  Its why many of us run away from recognizing how free we really are.  Responsibility is a scary concept.  But it is hard to be truly happy if you do not embrace your inherent freedom.

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 We Disengage? – by Kind Communication

KindCommunication.orgRe-posted From: http://KindCommunication.org/2014/10/02/why-do-we-disengage/

Disengagement is the number one problem in communication.  Whether it is between parent and child, boss and employee, coworkers, friends, or significant others.  When one person disengages, compassionate communication quickly becomes difficult to near impossible.

Disengagement takes many forms.  Most of you probably saw that word and thought “walked away, left the conversation”.  And that certainly can be one form of disengagement.  Other forms it can take are attacking the other person, attacking oneself and stonewalling.  And you may be able to imagine a few other forms too.  Disengagement is basically any time one person stops the flow of open, honest, compassionate dialogue.

And why do we disengage?  And how can we counteract it?

Let me lay out just three reasons we disengage and how to counteract them.  The first is shame.  Shame is the feeling that I am bad, wrong, or unworthy.  And all sorts of things can trigger shame.  It can be something as aggressive as criticism or as banal as making a mistake.  Either way when someone feels shame they disengage to protect themselves.  They will either attack the other person, start attacking themselves, stonewall, or even just try to escape the conversation.  Shame can be hard to address because people usually don’t vocalize “I feel shame”, shame is so powerful that people don’t want to admit to the experience of it.  So some questions for you to determine if shame is at play: are they avoiding making eye contact?  did you just criticize them or give them critical feedback?  did you just catch them making a mistake?  If the answer is yes to any of these three and the other person is disengaging, the reason is probably shame.

The best way to address shame is to remind the person that you care about them.  Spend time trying to rebuild connection with this person.  What do you admire about them?  Can you see something positive in what they were trying to do?  Have you ever made a similar mistake?  Share your answers to these questions with them, and try to rebuild your connection, to show them you care and are on their team.

The second reason we disengage is that we view the other person as a hypocrite.  We don’t see the other person as living in integrity with their values.  Basically, we see them as being dishonest, and as long as you perceive someone as dishonest you are very unlikely to be open, honest, and compassionate with them.

Obviously the first precaution against this reason for disengagement is to be honest.  To live in integrity with your values.  Don’t say one thing and then do another.  And of course sometimes we can do that, and someone else can still perceive us as being a hypocrite or dishonest, so what then?

Try to talk about it.  Try to ask them “I’m concerned that you think I’m not being fully honest, is that true?” or even simply “why are you mad at me?”  When people perceive you as being dishonest they are usually more than happy to point it out if you give them the chance.  When they do point it out, don’t take it personally!  When someone points out some way they see me not living in integrity or not being honest, I usually am tempted to go into shame and feel criticized.  The result of that is then I disengage and the cycle of disengagement continues.  So you have to work hard to stay engaged, and see them pointing out some sort of hypocrisy as the moment to try and regain connection by clearing it up.

Finally, the third reason we disengage can be simply biological.  Are you hungry?  Thirsty?  Tired?  Stressed?  It can take some energy to stay engaged especially in difficult conversations.  So it is important to stay mindful to how our bodies are doing.  If your physical energy is drained, your emotional energy will go soon.

The best way to deal with this is to be willing to take breaks when talking about tough topics.  Don’t feel like you have to “power through”.  Take breaks to have a snack, take a nap, or just relax.  Don’t use this as an excuse to sweep the issue under the rug.  But do take care of your body; it truly is the foundation to everything else.

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.

Scarcity & Contentment – by Kind Communication

KindCommunication.orgRe-posted From: http://KindCommunication.org/2014/09/21/scarcity-contentment/

Scarcity is the belief or mindset of “never enough”.  You know you’re being affected by the mindset of scarcity anytime you think “I’m not good enough” or “I’m not perfect enough” or “I’m never loved enough” or “I’m not successful enough” or “I’m not thin enough” or “I’m not smart enough”, etc.  And this mindset of “never enough” births fear, shame, jealousy, greed, prejudice, comparison, and arguments with what is.

For me, the solution to the mindset of scarcity is the mindset of contentment.  Being content is knowing that “it is enough” and that “I am enough”.  If you can be centered in knowing that you are enough, and what you have is enough, then you aren’t tricked into thinking you need more, you aren’t tricked into comparing yourself with others, you aren’t tricked into being scared, greedy, or jealous, and you aren’t tricked into picking a fight with what is.

And I’d like to be clear about something.  Both scarcity and contentment are mindsets; they are ways that we see ourselves and the world.  And they are also practices.  They are formed, reinforced, and made permanent by daily practices we engage in.  This is something I help many clients with, forming daily practices that foster contentment and eradicate scarcity.

I had this moment of clarity the other night about how scarcity works in me.  I was biking home from seeing some friends.  And I saw up ahead one of my guilty pleasures…taco bell.  In that moment I could tell that I didn’t need any food.  And I knew I had food in my fridge at home.  But it was a Saturday night, and I wanted that pleasure of eating a quesadilla.

As I’m biking I hear this thought “come on Alex, tonight won’t be complete without a taco bell run.  You’ll really feel so much happier and content if you get a quesadilla.”  And I relented; I turned in and got the quesadilla.  And then just 10 minutes later when I was home and eating it I heard another thought “oh gosh Alex, did you really get taco bell?  You don’t have enough self-control.”

And then it dawned on me, scarcity was behind both of those thoughts.  When I got the quesadilla, it was my greed to keep wanting more fun and pleasure because somehow I hadn’t had “enough” yet.  I wasn’t practicing contentment.

When I got home and felt shame, I was telling myself that I wasn’t enough.  Since I don’t have the “right” amount of self-control I am not “good enough”.  Again, I wasn’t practicing being content with who I was in that moment.  And so it was scarcity that both pushed me into stopping at Taco Bell, and it was scarcity that was beating me up for it.

If I had taken a moment to acknowledge “I had a fun evening, it was enough” or even “I have food at home that is enough” I wouldn’t have gotten that quesadilla.  And later when I noticed that I was telling myself I was “not good enough”, I did center myself in contentment.  I stopped and said out loud “I am enough just as I am.”  And after that I was able to enjoy my Taco Bell shame free.

And while you may be thinking this is a silly example, I have seen scarcity ruin relationships.  I’ve seen partners, friends, parents, and kids be wrecked with shame, fear, greed, and pain all because they don’t think they are enough, or what they have is enough.  And in their pain they disconnect from the other person, either by lashing out or withdrawing.  And if this issue of scarcity isn’t address slowly that disconnection becomes permanent.

I have also seen contentment save relationships.  That once a person recognizes that they are enough, or that what they have is enough, they let go of anger, fear, resentment, jealousy, greed, and arguing with what is.  A new peacefulness comes over them.  They are calm and centered for the first time.  And if contentment is practiced daily that new peacefulness becomes permanent.

So which do you practice?  Scarcity or Contentment?

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.

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.

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.

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.