"Our repertoire of words for calling people names is often larger than our vocabulary of words that allows us to clearly describe our emotional states" - Marshall B, Rosenberg, A Language of Life
Take a moment to think about how many words you use on a regular basis to describe your feelings. If you’re like most of us, you have a fairly simplistic feelings vocabulary. The issue with this we can't express what we can't name - even to ourselves!
As Marshall B. Rosenberg says in his book, A Language of Life, unexpressed feelings have a heavy cost on both our health and our relationships. Increased conflict at home or at work with its accompanying stress, as well as the physical manifestation of repressed emotions, make authentic, compassionate communication an important component to holistic health and happiness.
This is why I consider Nonviolent Communication (NVC) such a powerful process, because it gives us the language to actually connect to our true feelings. NVC exposes us to hundreds of words to identify and express both positive and negative feelings. As a starting place, you can check out the Feelings Inventory the Centre for Nonviolent Communication has put together
On top of this core capacity to accurately identify feelings, NVC is based on the idea of universal human needs. These needs include: celebration, beauty, food, acceptance and meaning as well as many others. NVCs premise is that all of our violent, aggressive language patterns (and behaviour) is us unskilfully trying to meet and express these needs.
Through socialisation we have all learnt unhelpful patterns of communication that mask our true feelings and universal needs. NVC gives specific examples of how we do this, and in seeing it, we have an opportunity of creating more life-giving patterns of communication. So, for example, rather than blaming or harshly judging someone in a twisted approach to expressing ourselves, NVC gives us the language to clearly and simply express how we feel and what we need.
From a holistic standpoint, maintaining open, authentic and positive relationships is an important part of a healthy, happy life. Nonviolent Communication is one tool that can help us in this area and it's worthwhile exploring.
NVC is a great skill, but like all great skills it takes practice. Join us for our Introduction to Nonviolent Communication course on October 24+25 in Valdora, Sunshine Coast.
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