Nonviolent Communication as a Way of Life

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
—Aristotle

Nonviolent Communication as a Way of Life
People often ask me how to handle unexpected emotional outbursts, such as a spouse coming home angry, an irritable cashier, or any situation where we’re surprised by the kind of response we receive. In these situations, I rely on my Nonviolent Communication habits.
I practice this consciousness in easy situations so I can be ready to use it in challenging ones. If a friend calls me to share exciting news, I empathize by listening to her feelings and needs, to help meet both our needs for celebration. If someone calls me to express sadness, I empathize to meet my needs for connection and compassion.If I find myself judging another person, I translate the judgmental thoughts to my feelings and needs, such as “When I see large SUVs, I feel worried about our ability to sustain ourselves and our resources,” instead of “Oh I hate SUVs. Doesn’t that person know how much precious gas that vehicle is using?” If I feel sad, I empathize with myself or ask someone else to empathize with me. If I feel happy, I express my celebration. I have made living Nonviolent Communication a habit. If I only practiced this consciousness when times were challenging, I would not have the skills to handle such situations. However, through continuous practice, I can rely on well-established habits of connection, compassion, and communication to help me resolve even the most challenging situations in ways that meet my need for integrity.

Begin to make the Nonviolent Communication process a habit today by empathizing with one person.

This reflection is an excerpt from Peaceful Living: Daily Meditations for Living with Love, Healing, and Compassion by Mary Mackenzie, published by PuddleDancer Press and is offered courtesy of NVC Academy and Mary Mackenzie.

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