Compassion Within

Dear Friends:

Two weeks ago, I wrote to you about an interaction with a man in a group where I volunteer. I said that the way “Raymond” addressed me did not meet my need for emotional safety. I’d like to give you an update. Last week, there was another meeting of the aforementioned group. I was a bit anxious. Much to my surprise and relief, he addressed me in a way that met my need for respect and cooperation.

I don’t know why Raymond changed, but reflecting on this satisfying outcome, I believe three things might have helped: 1) I didn’t respond in kind at the time of the difficult exchange, and 2) I remained friendly afterwards. I will talk about the third thing later.

How come you were friendly with him afterwards? Was that sincere?

Using the NVC process of Self-Empathy, I took time to heal. Then, I tried to understand the universal human needs underlying his words. This dissipated the anger in me. Yes, my friendliness was sincere.

How did you manage not to respond in kind when he talked to you the way he did?

At the time of the meeting I was self-connected. When I am self-connected, I am able to respond compassionately if I hear violence in the form of criticism, blame, etc. By that I mean, I try to understand the other person, and I express myself vulnerably. When I am not self-connected, however, no amount of Nonviolent Communication (NVC) skills helps. I respond to violence with violence.

What do you mean by “self-connected”?

I don’t know how to describe self-connection, exactly. The best I can do is to say that when I am in that space, I feel peaceful, I am moved by beauty and I care about everyone.

How do you get to that space?

I meditate for one hour in the morning and 20 minutes at bedtime. Not to say it takes that long to connect with oneself! I just so enjoy meditation that I take my sweet time at it. There are other ways to get to that space, of course. At International Intensive Trainings, Marshall Rosenberg instituted a practice he calls Remembering. First thing in the morning, we sit in a circle listen to inspiring music, read an uplifting poem, or some similar activity.At the end of the piece, people express how they were touched. I have noticed that after Remembering there is silence in the room and people relate vulnerably. I have adopted a version of this practice in therapy groups. At the beginning of a group session, we spend a few minutes following the lingering sound of Tibetan bells. Afterwards, people go very deep into their healing process and I am more
in tune with them than usual. Thus, we all get more out of our time together, in my view.

Friends, for me it is not enough to know NVC. I need to be WILLING to use the skills when the rubber meets the road. A daily practice that helps me connect with compassion within helps a lot towards that end. This is the third aspect of my response to Raymond and the most important aspect of my life.

Warm regards to all,



About Institute for Empowering Communication

Co-founder of the Institute for Empowering Communication
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