I like to keep a gratitude journal, and the other day I was looking back over one of my very first journals that I started right after I first started learning nonviolent communication. I decided to share it with you today. It’s called reflecting on times that felt tough.
What I used to do was use what is called OFNR, observation, feeling, need and request. I did my best to reflect on each one of those steps. I really wanted to have more ease, peace and harmony, especially in relationship with my youngest son. I find it fascinating to go back and see where I was all those years ago.
O - My observation was: I really wanted to go to church this morning with my family...I tried to help Rylan get ready for Sunday School and it went downhill fast. I get so tired of needing to wait. I'm confused how to help him move forward out of being stuck. He uses such a loud voice, calls names progressively more violent, then explodes. Out of frustration I mirror him which escalates the whole scene to worse than ever. We called each other names, it got very hurtful, I felt such a time pressure. I told myself things, "We're going to be late. He always has to have his way. Here he goes again. I am so tired of this. He needs to hurry up. He doesn't listen to me. No one is going to like him. No one will want him to be at Sunday School. I am embarrassed when he talks loud and mean to me in front of others. I have to make him stop being like this. He is so mean and disrespectful. I don't like him when he acts like this. I can't do this. This is too hard. I want to run away - leave - never come back. HELP ME!!!"
F - My feeling: I feel calmer now having gotten that much out. I feel deep sadness.
N - My need: What does he need when he yells loudly and gets so angry?
I need calm, peace, harmony, positive regard, consideration, respect, fun, joy, relaxation, energy, order, acceptance, understanding.
He flip-flops - explosive anger - sad - sorry - sweet - explosive anger - sad - disconnected - explosive - sad - etc.
He wants to stay home (autonomy)
He wants to play (play)
I had a mental "list" of all I "needed" to do to be ready for the week.
R - My Request: I choose to slow down, to take time today, this moment, to connect with Rylan. To be home, to play while I clean and include him. I choose to listen to him, enjoy him and love him just the way he is with acceptance and seek to understand him and seek to hear his needs with empathy.
This meets my need for interdependence, play, order, harmony, love, celebration and autonomy.
Reflecting back over those days they seem so timeless, both so long ago and just like yesterday. Just now I take in a deep breath and acknowledge how far Rylan and I have come and how much we have learned and integrated over the last 22 years. And I so greatly value those first glimpses of seeing the beauty through that dense fog of confusion and pain. The gift of experiencing being stretched beyond my inner limitations and finding our way to discover something no one can ever take from me, or Rylan. Pure unconditional love and acceptance, of self and of others.