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.
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.