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

Taking Responsibility for Our Feelings – NVC Week 5

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve updated this section, but we’re still plugging along. I have said it before, and it still holds true; learning this stuff (though totally worth it) is hard if it hasn’t been your normal pattern of communication. I do have one slight mama-brag for today though; today wasn’t one of our greatest, but we made it through and are enjoying a relatively peaceful evening.

At one point, PeaGreen was struggling to find the right way to phrase something and finally said that he was trying to say it in NVC and couldn’t – so I at least know that they’re thinking about it even when we’re not sitting there with the book open! That makes me happy, and it’s this kind of slow, but steady progress that keeps me thinking that this is working; that studying and practicing NVC is worth spending our time on.

If you’re following along or just joining us, we’re working through Marshall Rosenberg’s book, Nonviolent Communication, and  Lucy Leu’s companion Workbook . We’re doing this as part of our homeschool curriculum and we welcome your thoughts and companionship on our journey.

I’ll be honest; I am not happy with this weeks’ lesson. I say ‘week’; I mean ‘few weeks’ – a month, nearly. We’ve taken a while to go through this chapter. That’s a lot of self-awareness to handle at one time – a lot of thinking and really connecting with the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of your emotions and responses. When that’s not your normal thought-process, it’s really difficult and time-consuming. One can assume that this gets easier with time and practice, but WOW to the first few months of really understanding and attempting to put into practice this type of self-aware communication.

To their credit, the kids seem to catch on faster than I do. Our phrase of the week is, “I feel…. because I need….” That sounds simple, right? But it’s not. Being able to out your own needs into works – even identifying them sometimes is challenging. We’re moving on to the next chapter, but I can confidently and unabashedly say that we have not mastered this concept. I do think that this is part of the process, and that with practice will come mastery (or at least competency). We’ve been stuck on a concept before, so I am sure this will work into the framework of the whole as we go along (and of course, we’re a long way from speaking Giraffe fluently).

Like I said above, I am seeing progress, but it is slow going. Right when I start thinking that this is not working, a situation will arise or a child will say something where I can clearly see the wheels of NVC turning. Oh, they still bicker, and I still get irritated and frustrated with them; that’s normal, I think. But overall, I think that communication is improving. This is a marathon, not a sprint.

I did appreciate the section on page 54 of the book where the lists the needs we all share; autonomy, integrity, celebration, interdependence,  spiritual communion, physical nurturance & play. Having the list is helpful when I don’t know exactly which need of mine is not being met; having an example of the language to use is immensely helpful to me.

The summary states:

What others say and do may be the stimulus, but never the cause of, our feelings. When someone communicates negatively, we have four options as to how we receive the message: (1) blame ourselves, (2) blame others, (2) sense our own feelings and needs, (4) sense the feelings and needs hidden in the other person’s negative message.

I’m still not exactly clear on what, or if there even is, a ‘right’ option would be. It seems that differing responses would be appropriate in different situations, and/or a combination of responses. In any case, we’re working on it.

If you’re following along, some of the discussion questions from Chapter 5 in the workbook are:

What ’causes’ a particular feeling in us?

What are four options for hearing a difficult message?

How might we speak in ways that acknowledge responsibility for our feelings?

Guilt-tripping – discuss.

How do we often communicate instead of asking for what want? Response?

Explain the difference between ‘taking responsibility’ for someone else’s feelings and ‘caring compassionately’ about them.

We’ve already begun chapter 6, so keep an eye out for that in the next week or so. Hope your week is off to a good start!



(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. For best results, I  strongly recommend that you purchase the book and workbook for yourself and go through them in their entirety at your leisure.)


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