As I pause and reflect upon the fruit I see growing in my own work, and in the world around me, I feel such profound gratitude for the clarity Marshall Rosenberg had when he gifted so many with the process of Nonviolent Communication.
17 years ago my life felt like it was turned upside down and inside out. I blamed myself for my son’s difficulties; I did not have tools developed to maneuver new territory that was totally unpredictable and unstable; and my window of tolerance was raw and quite narrow. I perceived no choice but to reduce my private practice in order to sort out how to move forward and even function. With a heavy sense of desperation, I began to search for information and processes that would help me to parent and nurture my then 5-year old son so he could regain developmental territory and begin to thrive in his environment, not just survive.
A friend mentioned Marshall Rosenberg’s book, A Language of Life,...
How do you stay present in the face of perceiving an unexpected attack? What happens in your body as you take in the heightened expression of your child or loved one? As children move through adolescence, it can feel emotionally rocky, not only for the child, it can feel rocky for the parents. We can find ourselves reacting when we’ve promised ourselves we will stay present. Today let me share an experience I had with my youngest son, Rylan.
I remember feeling momentarily stunned as I heard him cry out, “You’re not my mom, you’re a hologram!” His eyes were wide, and the corners of his lips were turned downward.
I automatically slowed down my inner experience and took a deep breath in through my nostrils. I noticed my stomach was tight and my breathing was shallow. As I monitored my inner world, I further noticed my back was rigid, and the whole of my experience felt surreal, as if I was looking out of my eyes from a great distance.
There have been times in my life when life seemed to have a particular pattern, that I’d forget it’s possible for something different to occur. Let me share an example.
I remember one morning several years ago I heard the movement of our son coming from the other room, at the time, I felt it was incredulous when I turned and saw him. There he stood; with a slight grin on his face, holding his dog in his arms, and... his sound therapy headset on his head!
Throughout the day he was energetic; he literally bounced around the house, sang to himself as he cleaned and organized his room, smiled often, attended to his chores, and engaged in conversations which quickly changed from topic to topic. (Identifying my child’s natural movement and tendencies is an important step in understanding and honoring his true nature.)
“Wow! Look at you this morning!” I exclaimed, with surprise and delight registering in my tone of voice and...
I remember when I received a call from a young mother, who was desperately reaching out for support. She said, ”I don't think it was an accident that you have come into my life. I really need help with my daughter, she's got so much anxiety building inside her. Maybe it's not anxiety, but she's just so grumpy all the time!"
I gently asked, "Hearing your inner sense of desperation, I'm wondering if you would be willing to receive some empathy guesses from me?"
"Yes," she responded, "I'm so desperate I will try anything! It's so hard to parent her!"
"Oh, feeling so desperate," noticing my tummy contract, I paused for a moment, "I'm wondering if it might be supportive just to drop into your body for a moment and notice any sensations, any sense of where in your body this feeling of desperation reside?"
After a moment of silence, she answered, "In my stomach."
"Does it feel tight or hard?...
There are times that parents can become dulled to the emotional expression of their children. Especially when it seems as if they never get a break, or there is no one to talk with about what it’s like for them as the parent.
I remember several years ago walking down a store aisle to stand in line at the pharmacy. I felt my ears prick when I heard a young child cry out loudly. I looked around, to see whether I could be of assistance, when I stepped into the center aisle I saw a little girl of about 2-3 years of age crying. A man, I imagine it was her father, took ahold of her arm, leaned over her small form, and demanded in a very firm voice, "Be quiet! Stop it right now!"
The little girl shrank back yet naturally continued to cry loudly as her mother turned away from her and began to push the grocery cart, which held an even younger girl, down the aisle. The father pulled on the child's arm, nearly jerking her off her feet, as he spanked her with his other hand,...
How do people change, and how does one move through the ripples that flow from change itself? Do you welcome change with curiosity and openness in your body, or is it something you'd prefer to avoid all together and your body contracts at the very thought of change? Stepping into new schedules can be quite an adjustment for most, and for many others it can require an enormous step of faith, courage, and inner growth.
When my son, Rylan, was going to begin Junior High he was going to be participating in classes that would open up new opportunities for him; expand his learning, develop inner confidence, and create new friendships in community.
The last month of summer we deliberately focused on preparing for these changes by gradually shifting our schedules, so that everyone experienced as much ease and flow as possible. One of the ways we prepared was by joining a gym, meeting with a personal trainer, (for Physical Ed) and then going to the gym.
Waking Rylan up in...
Do you plan outings with your kids, ones that you both put time and energy into choosing what you'll be doing together and really look forward to? Has anything unexpected ever happened in the midst of one of those special times? If so, how did you react in the moment? Were you able to stay flexible and adaptable or does unpredictability simply knock you way off balance?
I enjoyed planning outings with my son, Rylan, fairly regularly when he was younger, often folding them into our homeschooling program. I remember one Monday we planned to go shopping for his winter coat after going to the doctor. This day was particularly exciting because we planned to go to the Valley Mall to do our shopping! Let me share the story with you.
Rylan took my hand in his as we crossed the parking lot to enter the mall, and as we went through the big doors he gave me a big grin saying, "I love you, Mom."
I gave his hand a squeeze and affirmed, "I love you too, son."...
Have you ever stopped to consider what you really want for your children? What kind of qualities you would like to see them develop as they grow and mature? When we attune to our children, we promote a healthy secure attachment within them. When we model how to tune in to the self, we also promote a foundation for resilience and flexibility.
I remember looking at the clock when I was getting ready to leave with Rylan for his lab appointment. I felt some alarm begin to ring in my chest as it tightened. Mindfully I slowed down the moment, I noticed I was telling myself we were going to be late. Taking in a deeper breath and breathing it out slowly, I smiled as I recognized and named for myself how much I value making and keeping agreements with others.
Feeling a sense of inner restoration, I called out to Rylan, "It's time to be going, did you brush your teeth and wash your face?"
"I'm not going!" Rylan said with a determined look as he stood with his...
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...
Do you take the time to reflect on your relationship with your loved ones? What influences our feelings, perceptions, and behaviors as evolving human beings? Are you consciously creating a nurturing environment where safety and trust influence the activation of genes and sculpt the structure of the brain?
The genes that children inherit influence their development and shape the inborn characteristics of their nervous systems. Their experiences also directly shape their development and influence which genes are activated. Relationships that provide contingency (responses to other's signals with a quality, intensity, and timing which clearly reflect the signals that were sent), especially when emotions are heightened, offer our loved ones repeated experiences where they feel connected, understood and protected.
I noticed when homeschooling my son, Rylan, that rather than sharing a mutual sense of interest and wonder as we focused on learning, Rylan would shut down...