Homeschooling: It's not what we do, it's how we live.

Giving From the Heart – NVC Week 1

So, like I mentioned before, we’re adding NVC to our list of ‘required’ subjects. This is a 13-week course, and ideally, I’ll be posting once a week with an update. For the previous NVC post, check here. (Yikes – talk about putting it off – the first post was back in November of last year. {hangs head in guilt and shame})

Moving on, here are my thoughts on Chapter One. Let’s start with a few questions from this week’s chapter:

What is the purpose of NVC (as it applies to me)?

What is meant by ‘NVC is more than a process or a language’?

What are some areas or ways that MVC can be used in (my) life and community?

What draws me to NVC? What is it that I deeply wish for my life and my world?

I’ll get to the questions in a sec, but first I wanted to talk about the ‘connecting to how I feel in this moment’ exercises. Over the last few months, I’ve really been trying to take better care of myself mentally and emotionally. Every day, I take a few minutes to meditate and stretch and just ‘be’. I think that this type of centering time has helped me be more calm and bale to respond more effectively to the kids. I also am enjoying the time to myself – even if it’s only a few minutes.

I will say that working on the suggested childhood back-tracking and being honest and connected to how I feel about things is difficult and sometimes painful. This is not an experience or lesson that I particularly enjoyed… and then saying that makes it sound like I had a harsh or bad childhood. Not so, but I guess the exercise is designed to look at the roots of whatever communication malfunctions one has now by focusing on the negatives from the past. Without justifying, I can honestly say that there are definitely patters that were laid that need to change. I’ve always known that I wanted to do things differently than my parents did, and that caused some disharmony in my family when the kids were younger. Now that they’re older, we still do things very differently, but I can see where improvements need to be made – I find myself in the uncomfortable position of knowing what I don’t want to do, but lacking the know-how to achieve what I do want.

My main interest and goal in learning and applying NVC is multi-purpose: both to improve my own connection and motivation for how and why I communicate, and to set a good example/improve the communication and compassion with my husband and my kids. I also feel that my kids are approaching the age where they need to be learning how and why the ‘right course’ of action is so, and to choose it willingly because it is right. Parents can only enforce the rules for so long; at some point the kids have to start making those kinds of decisions for themselves. I really want to focus on that part of it – getting them in touch with obligation, responsibility and actions. I do think that people, children in particular, are born with the desire to help. So learning how to approach requests with the aim of helping someone appeals to me.

I see a lot of areas for improvement; I feel like I am not communicating effectively or compassionately sometimes, and it bothers me. I also see how my family communicates (or doesn’t, as the case may be) and that is not a cycle I wish to perpetuate with my own kids (any longer). I think that learning new techniques now will be beneficial – and easier for my children to learn and implement now, while the foundations of communication are still being forged, than to have to attempt changing them as adults as I am trying to do.

I’m not an expert, and I may not fully understand right now, but I think that NVC as a process is about connecting with your own motivations and needs and learning how to effectively communicate them with requests for actions that allow them to be met. I use sarcasm as a defense and an attack. I also use it in good clean fun, but I hide behind it as well. I’m teaching my kids through example, intentionally or not, and though I enjoy a dry wit and cutting remark just as much as the next guy, I don’t want that to be their primary form of communication.

At the same time, I don’t want to be or feel or seem all loopy and open and hippie-dippy the way that I perceive many NVC-type people to be. I am fully aware that this is a perception, not necessarily reality – I remember pre-children, how naive and ill-informed I was about so many things – and how my perceptions were colored before I had kids of my own; I can imagine that this is a similar situation and perception. It will be interesting to come back in a few months and read this and see if my perception has changed. I did want to document it though, as an experiment of sorts.

There are a lot of examples in the book of what a person says – the words that they use. I’ve made a list of some of the ones I like or think I might use to help myself remember them. I wasn’t raised with this type of language (refered to as ‘giraffe’) so using it does not come naturally to me. It’s effort. My instinctual response – and usually the wrong response – is much more emotionally seated and dramatic. Keeping calm is helpful, remembering in the heat of the moment to remain calm is virtually impossible somewhat difficult.

I re-created this poster in MSWord and printed out a page to hang at my desk and at both of the kids’ desks. Little reminders do help! It might seem silly to have behavior reminders (for Mom) up throughout the house, but I need them just as much as the kids do, and I’ll take all the help I can get!

Resources for new-to-NVC:

  • NVC Academy – not a free site, but they do have some free tools and ideas of what to do or make if you prefer to make your own.
  • NVC Key Ingredients – if you’re interested in NVC and don’t have the book, this is a basic outline of the process. Helpful for a reference if you print it out.
So this is our week one. If you’re following along in your own book (or without), please feel free to chime in with your thoughts and feelings from this week’s chapter.
(Disclaimer: This is not a certified or ‘official’ NVC anything. This is my personal journey through Marshall Rosenberg’s book, Nonviolent Communication, and Lucy Leu’s NVC Companion Workbook. I am NOT an expert, nor am I particularly skilled in this process. Please use/follow/apply with those things in mind. When in doubt, please disregard my commentary and refer to the book or workbook. I make no money off of this exercise, nor is any copyright infringement meant by posting a sampling of the questions from the workbook.)

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