Message from Myra
“[P]ain engendered by damaging cultural conditioning is such an integral part of our lives that we can no longer distinguish its presence. It takes tremendous energy and awareness to recognize this destructive learning and to transform it into thoughts and behaviors that are of value and of service to life. This requires a literacy of needs and the ability to get in touch with ourselves, both of which are difficult for people in our culture.” ~ Marshall Rosenberg, Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life, p. 171
Last weekend I did a most wonderful retreat where I took long walks by the Fox River. I enjoyed the natural scene, the laughter of people, the songs of birds and the smell of water and summer blossoms. Oh, what joy! I met with a guide who helped me listen to myself, and I worked on continuing to heal my heart and soul — a life-long journey.
I continue to recover from brain exhaustion gradually. It’s been a long road but I see improvement week by week. I have asked myself, “How did I get here?” The answer is, “By not listening to my needs.” You see, for a long time, I worked very hard at my job. I didn’t listen to my body when it implored me to rest. My response to shallow breath, sweating and fatigue was “I’ve got to finish this report.” I thought I was meeting my need for self-respect and job security by working as hard as I did. Tension built up over several years and the dam broke at last. My brain could no longer take the relentless stress.
In retrospect, I realize I was trying to gain approval from management by working so hard. Gaining approval was an unfortunate strategy I chose in order to meet my need for respect from others, self-respect and job security. It was unfortunate because I hurt myself in the process. Now I’m more aware of the blind internal forces that may feel like human needs but that are, in fact, parts of me in need of healing and awareness. Nonviolent Communication (NVC) alerts us about such forces which I will call “faux needs.” Examples of these include money, prestige and power over others. NVC teaches us to connect with our real needs and take actions to meet them.
I used to think that living one’s life based on human needs was a wonderful concept but I couldn’t do that at work. “I can’t rest! There’s so much to do!” Now, I realize that I can, in fact, live in harmony with my needs even at work. These days, I work very hard based on my need for contribution, integrity and peace of mind. At the same time, I am mindful of my need for rest and vitality. So I take a break when I need it even if I’m not caught up with the paperwork. I end the week less tired and calmer than before. As a result of this approach, I have more paperwork to do at home, but protecting my health is worth it. I am confident that as long as I continue to work with integrity and dedication, I will still have as much job security as I had before I started taking care of myself. I believe people still respect me. And I have more self-respect because I am inner directed now. I’ve discovered first hand that approval is a faux need, after all.
Warm regards to all,