Communication, the use of language, oral or body langugage is an extremely powerful way of giving information to others about what is happening with us. Recently, as I have begun to examine my language and the thoughts, historical background and interpretation in terms of recent events as a means of beginning to fully understand what happens inside me when I am faced with a situation needing a resolution.
I had not really taken full responsibility for my part in relationships that did not work. In fact, until very recently, I considered that I was a victim and that my behaviour was simply a response as a way of maintaining my integrity, or otherwise known as confirming my story. I would react, and again react to whatever my reaction created, therefore producing an inevitable block that could not be resolved. Even when I didn’t verbally react, my entire body would react in a sort of freeze in which I could not speak and I would have intense physical pain for up to several days. I would be accused of possibly shutting everyone out as a means of retaliation, although within me I was simply doing the only thing I could to handle the pain I was feeling.
As I faced another situation in which I was faced with something I didn’t understand, but was beginning to feel threatened by, I could feel myself going into that reaction mode. As I’ve begun to seriously work with Marshall’s Nonviolent Communication material, I decided to choose my words very carefully, based upon the feelings list I picked up at Rachelle Lamb’s recent workshop here in Ottawa. I struggled to find within that list, what I was truly feeling, rather than the words I would have liked to have used that would have placed the responsibility for the bad feelings upon the other person, and not taking responsibility for my own feelings. Interesting enough for me was that I had a problem identifying the feelings that were really there, until I could step back adequately from the feeling and to observe where I really was. When I could take responsibility, I could then identify that I was confused, or bewildered at what was happening…no blame there, but a huge feeling of relief when I could say those words as opposed to the words I had been pondering such as betrayed or violated….clearly placing the blame on the other….I sat here for some time trying out those words and being clear in how I felt with each word. Betrayed….I felt heavy, I felt wronged, I felt angry……Confused…..I felt clear, I felt empowered, I felt light. Interesting how those two words made such a difference. I’ve gone back into Marshall’s book to read again how and why he developed this model of communication to express ourselves or as Marshall says, ‘NVC guides us in reframing how we express ouselves and hear others. Instead of being habitual, automatic reactions, our words become conscious responses based firmly on an awareness of what we are perceiving, feeling, and wanting.’ How powerful is this statement, and how often I have read it without fully comprehending the depth of what is meant here. Only by fully going deeply into my own experience and reactions and owing what was mine in this interaction could I even come close to getting it.
I will be offering Practice Groups here at Aileen’s Oasis beginning in January, 2012. These groups will meet monthly on the third Wednesday from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. and will work with the Nonviolent Communication, A Language of Life text and Companion workbook.
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