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May 5th Summary -- Communication: Skills, Intention and Boundaries

Last night's group was an opportunity to explore situations where we wanted to get past pure technique and skill to a deeper integration of nonviolent consciousness, while also creating clear, strong and effective boundaries.

We explored a series of specific situations where the individual was struggling to communicate effectively while maintaining a sense of safety, self-respect and inner peace. It seemed like the non-assertive options are submitting or rebelling, giving in or fighting back, and none of those have been satisfying, or created the sense of self-respect, confidence, clarity and "non-violence" that we hoped for. We tried a variety of role-plays by other group members to tease apart our habitual reactions, and get closer to a non-violent and assertive response. Even when this didn't result in perfect resolution, there was more clarity, understanding and ease in each case.

In my case, I was working on negotiating time with my kids this summer and described a series of emails with my ex-wife, where I'm uncomfortable with some of her requests and wanted to explore possible ways to respond. In the process of hearing each group members best attempt to incorporate NVC into the response, I gained a lot of clarity about my intentions and needs, and am beginning to be curious about her motives. From that place I don't need to "give in" and do whatever she asks. I also don't need to "fight back" and complain, criticize or otherwise attack her. I can do that shift for myself -- my need is for self-respect, clarity, effectiveness. Its not to placate, control or punish her. I prefer to feel calm and peaceful and to treat both my needs and hers as important. I also remember that strategies are not needs. Just because she asks for something doesn't mean I need to give that thing to her. If the need is for safety, I can respect and appreciate that need without sharing more than I'm willing to.

I will let other group members share their experience if they wish, but I was touched, challenged and inspired by each person's sharing. Thanks for the wonderful evening.
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