Compassion course: week 4

Happy Friday! This is the third installment of a weekly svadjaja (self study) series I’m doing on a year long online Non-Violent Communication (NVC) course that I’m taking. I’m tracking my progress as I go through each week’s lessons. Check out last week’s post on feelings here!

Needs. The root of compassionate thinking. This week was a revisit of needs. Why do they matter? Are there good and bad needs? What about needs vs. strategies (i.e. how we try to meet our needs)?

The idea that the things people do are their attempts to meet their needs is new to me. I think this course will be the beginning of a new way of thinking, and of improving communication and relationships by maintaining connection during times it’s easier to just disengage. How many times have I written someone off based on something they said, their actions, or how they look that day? It’s tempting to disconnect, especially with something I feel strongly about (like during an argument…*cough cough*) because it’s easier for me to think about right vs wrong or fundamental differences than to consider that I might be wrong or that the other person has their story and their needs too.

The biggest takeaway I got from this week was the idea of strategies vs needs. Our needs are universal, but the strategies we use to meet them can differ. So the next time I get into a conflict with someone else, I’ll try to think less of “why the hell would they say that to me??” and ask myself “what universal need are they trying to meet?” I think this is a step in the right direction 🙂

Advertisements

Compassion Course: Weeks 1 & 2

I plan to do a weekly series on my thoughts and a-ha moments from my Non-Violent Communication course, published every Friday to kick off the weekend with some love for yourself and those around you. Jai!

I’m currently two weeks into a one-year online Non-Violent Communication (NVC) course with New York City-based Thom Bond, founder of NYCNVC. I chose to take this course to deepen my understanding of myself and how I interact with the world around me. I think it will be especially enlightening as I am traveling around the world, beginning in two months!

In this last month that I’m in Champaign, IL, I also meet once a week with other NVCers at Green Yoga Spa, a lovely house and spa run by longtime yogi Mary Wolters. In the last two weeks, we focused on needs and judgements. The main idea is: everything we do, we do to fulfill a need. This is an eye opening concept to me, something I’m pondering as we delve deeper into the course. It’s a simple statement, but woooosh! It’s powerful. Pretty regularly, I meet people who do or say things that baffle me. People that have had vastly different life experiences than I, with different (and sometimes conflicting) perspectives and attitudes. Sometimes it’s hard for me to see where they’re coming from. That’s when the judging happens.

In our meetings, we identify feelings that we feel as a reaction to a conversation or action with another. Then, we connect those with needs that we had associated with those feelings. That is pretty eye-opening in and of itself. Kind of like “oh, so that’s what my feelings are for. I didn’t know they could be so useful!” The second part is an even bigger whammy: doing the same process for the other person. What were they feeling, and what possible needs were they trying to meet?

When I think about the violence happening this week in the US between police and Black Americans, my first reaction is frustration and helplessness. Frustrated that the problem is so deeply embedded in our law enforcement system, and at the lack of awareness and acknowledgement by so many in this country. Helpless because I feel like I’m on the outside looking in. What can I do to change things? I can voice my support to my black friends, to the black community, that I stand with them. But real change comes when we unite and see each other. Real change comes when we see our very real and very different experiences growing up Black, White, Asian, Hispanic, rich, poor, gay, straight. How can we make this happen? How do we unite the law enforcement community with all of those they vowed to serve and protect?

Compassion is a word I come across all the time, but what does it really mean? I love this take on it: compassion is love in action. It applies to actions toward yourself and towards those around you. I think if we practice this by being compassionate towards our own feelings and needs and by recognizing and honoring the feelings and needs of someone that seems so different from ourselves, then we have a chance of truly uniting and enacting real and meaningful change.