I’m excited to share today because I love answering inquiries from our Peaceabl community. A young woman was inspired from my July blog, Reconnecting with You From My Place of Happiness. https://www.peaceabl.com/reconnecting-with-you-after-a-longish-break/
In that blog I confessed to having taken the business risk of suspending my online outreach until my inspiration returned, which turned out to be an uncomfortable amount of time, a whole year!
I explained that the decision unfolded as part of my learning and embodying a core principle of Nonviolent or Compassionate Communication (NVC), which is to steer my life toward doing things from inspiration, rather than from duty or obligation. My experiment was sparked by my noticing that I had fallen into feelings of resistance and had many thoughts of “having to” write my e-newsletter/blog.
The woman responded to the blog, sharing that she loves my inquiry, “about regular items that we put on our list, weekly, etc, or hold to a strict schedule, that become imposing.”
“How do you make yourself do the things that are good for you? (for me, I’ve been scolding myself for not meditating, exercising and doing personal study more routinely and seriously for years) – without feeling like you’re being a domineering parent to yourself, and making yourself do these things?”
She continues, “I imagine the answer lies somewhere in the phrasing; I need to try to see it as something I “get to do”, or “give to myself”. But I’d love to hear how you “make” yourself meditate every day, as an example (I believe that’s something you do?).”
Today I’m offering my incomplete start to answering her very big question.
Yes to meditating daily, and yes to the importance of phrasing. It’s also important what context I give myself for why I am doing something. Both greatly influence my results and more importantly, how I feel – the feeling quality of my life experiences!
NVC gives me a really specific way to see and feel exactly what it is I am “giving to myself” and why, i.e. what core needs any of my words or actions fill for me. This is clarity you can rely on.
I’d like to share how I find the inspiration to meditate daily, then look at an example from a small “breakdown” in my life this morning that illustrates some of the self care work that I do to transform my “shoulds” and self pressure patterns for getting myself to do things. Then I’ll share a tool to overcome fear, with a poignant story.
Inspiration Overcomes Resistance to Meditation
Yes, I do meditate most days. Sometimes my practice feels easy, and at other times I am distracted, resistant and even resentful. Usually the resentment is about my expectations and hopes about the kind and quality of spiritual or mystical experience “I should be having” – the perfect mindset to block such experiences from occurring:)
What keeps me coming back to the cushion? I wish I could say that it is my experience of Oneness with Source!
Some of my meditation experiences do motivate me. However, my commitment seems to be based primarily on trusting what other spiritual leaders through the ages have shared about their experiences from meditation, as well as more recent scientific support for the positive brain and body changes that result.
I trust and have surrendered to their leadership in this, because my own personal experiences of meditation have not been sufficient to generate consistent daily commitment on their own.
I can apply a helpful analogy to the energetics of how this works, from an ambitious marketing guy from my past. I am casting my line and hooking onto their meditation “bullet train”. I am borrowing the power of the bullet train of wisdom that spiritual leaders have accrued, and even the energy of the self discipline they developed for their meditation practices, to fuel my own.
I have borrowed inspiration, which gives me commitment and even energy for my practice.
You might wonder, but couldn’t “shoulds” and “have to’s” creep back in? Yes, and painful comparisons too – after all, Guru SoAndSo was enlightened at age 17!
It is a constant awareness practice – of coming back to my inspiration, the moment I notice I’ve “shoulded on myself”. I come back to my faith in the bullet train folks, and appreciation of the important core needs that, like them, I can meet for myself when I meditate – rest, peace of mind, focus development, spiritual insights, health, etc.
An NVC advanced move has me sit with, contemplate, and feel energetically and emotionally in my body – what it feels like to have these beautiful needs met – rest, peace of mind, focus development, spiritual insights, and health. This deep connection to my needs further fuels my inspiration to meditate.
Self Care Kicks the Habit of Self Pressure or Self Domination
Thankfully, NVC has helped me make my brain be “a kinder and happier place to be”, even when I don’t like choices I’ve made. Like choices that go against my positive habits.
This morning offered a good example. I had planned to be finished writing this blog 2 hours ago. Instead, I woke up later than planned, engaged in conversation with my daughter in the kitchen, detail texted my other daughter a fun experience I just had (related to a month long self improvement exercise we are doing together), and then I went off on another wonderful tangent learning about Joe Dispenza’s Mind Movies for manifestations.
Okay, sure, we all wander sometimes. But this wandering happened to follow a very nice day yesterday of organized productivity, which I have been prioritizing and wanting more of.
I was really joyful and hopeful yesterday with my re-found productivity, as I carefully mapped my day today. So the disappointment and frustration this morning was a big ugly contrast, that I harshly judged as a “backslide”. Btw, I like the definition I just found for “backslide” as I wandered my browser:) – “To revert to bad habits or lapse in religious practice.” That was me this morning.
NVC Medicine for my Backsliding
So I did my NVC “Regret” practice. That means, when I feel painful emotions, I notice what they are telling me about my needs or values that are not being met.
In NVC we summarize this as, I feel ___ because I need/want/value ____.
Oh, I feel disappointed and frustrated because I value integrity (doing what I say I will do), productivity and forward motion on the work that I love. My wandering left these needs unmet this morning.
Okay, I can be with that. Just becoming aware of these needs gave me clarity and self-connection, and helped me get back to writing this blog right away!
In addition, I can follow that up and generate true compassion for myself with the “forgiveness” part of NVC self care:
What needs was I trying to meet with the behavior that I now regret (wandering off my schedule)?
It turns out, in hindsight, that I wandered off my schedule to unconsciously meet my core needs for:
Given this list, how angry at myself can I stay? Now, with this NVC reflection, my strategies have become conscious. My forgiveness conversation with myself continues…
Okay, thank you, Self, for loving and prioritizing these great things. They are really important.
With this empathic self connection, moving into strategies for action can be fruitful and heartfelt.
Moving into an NVC Connection Request to Self – I’m wondering if you fell off the schedule this morning because maybe you still don’t have enough “wandering” time built into the schedule to meet your needs for curiosity, novelty, spontaneity and discovery?
Moving into an NVC Action Request to Self – Hmmm, let’s spend 10 minutes today after dinner to think about this some more.
With this new awareness of my needs, I will now automatically be on the lookout for ways of better meeting them. Like maybe scheduling 15 minutes every day to do absolutely nothing, a confronting recommendation I recently read from the Joy Diet🙂
I am also more empowered to make heart-connected and relevant decisions, based on the needs patterns I notice in my life.
Transforming Fear-based Resistance
Here’s a perspective or context that I use to help me move through my resistance to taking right action, when I notice that my resistance is taking the form of fear. I heard it shared recently by Clare Dubois, the Founder of Tree Sisters. Her mindset is that everything she does in her life is just an experiment. This is so simple, yet is has been surprisingly useful for me recently as I’ve applied it.
I’d love to hear back from any of you Peaceabl community members who decide to try this one out.
The genius inventor, Buckminster Fuller, came to a similar strategy as Clare Dubois, after he had a major realization during a psychological, existential breakdown. He decided, from then on, to take on his life as an experiment to see what one person could do to contribute to humanity.
Here’s Bucky’s story – another beautiful “tangent” today:
“In 1927, Buckminster Fuller, then 32, stood at the edge of a freezing Lake Michigan and resolved to throw himself into the water, thus ending a life he deemed “wasted.” His young daughter had recently died, leaving him, his wife and remaining infant daughter in a world of grief and desperation.
A college dropout and by most accounts thoroughly uncomfortable in his own skin, Fuller was unable to keep hold of a steady idea, much less a job that supplied even the basic necessities for his family. But as he stood and pondered the end of his young life, he was struck suddenly by the notion that the enemy crushing his spirit and informing his death was actually his own ego, and that he would do better to commit “ego-cide” rather than suicide.
He chose at that moment to think and work on behalf of all humanity, rejecting personal gain and aggrandizement in the process. “An experiment to discover what the little, penniless, unknown individual might be able to do effectively on behalf of all humanity” saved him from drowning and his family from renewed heartbreak.
Over the following 50 years, the “experiment” resulted in the following: 50 U.S. patents, 28 authored books, 47 honorary degrees in engineering and the humanities, the Presidential Medal of Freedom (the highest national honor that a private citizen can receive) and dozens of other awards. From an architectural standpoint alone, he may well be the greatest American thinker of the 20th century.”
By taking on a life context of experimentation, we shelter ourselves from energy draining “make wrong” thoughts, and we are led forward instead by curiosity, desire, courage, love, intuition…and inspiration! That’s a really good exchange, right?
A core practice of NVC is to step out, and try to stay out of the stifling, toxic, incessant, thousands of years-old paradigm of judging things and people as good/bad or right/wrong. NVC gives us the practical everyday way to shift into viewing events and actions instead as either meeting human and other life form needs, or not. And from there we proceed with our countless experiments for meeting needs.
I like to think that we can keep life fresh and “choiceful” for ourselves by checking in about the needs it serves for us to do a task – like cleaning the bathroom, filing taxes, exercising, eating salad or meditating – and connect to the task from compassionate needs awareness. From that place I think we can make better choices, like even when to drop a task off our list forever, from a more informed and heart connected place.
This practice is starting to pay off for me in self kindness, clarity and life fulfillment.
As always, please feel free to share your conflict and relationship (work or home) topics or questions you would like me to reflect on and write about here. Of course I will protect your privacy, with no mention of your name or details.
I hope you feel inspired to continue to engage with me as I share fresh, real life peacemaking and relationship transformation, with practices that you can do for yourself. Let’s use our moments together to create greater levels of peace and joy in your self growth and relationship adventures!
Peace and many social blessings,
P.S. Please visit Peaceabl.com if you would like to learn more about my work.
If you or your organization are in conflict, experiencing a #7 out of 10 or higher pain levels, then I invite you to set up a complimentary session with me to explore your options for relief and transformation.
You can find a time that works for you here Breakthrough Conversation.
Note – credit for the photo above goes to photographer Patrick Fore, on unsplash.com
Catherine Cooley is a mediator and a communication coach. She has worked in environments of extreme conflict including prisons, the court system and local communities teaching what she calls "Breakthrough Conversations." She specializes in helping people foster clear, respectful, warm, cooperative relationships at home and in the workplace.
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