Nurture Your Relationships with Nonviolent Communication
by Nirmala Raniga, Founder and Director
“When all your desires are distilled you will cast two votes:
To love more. And be happy.” ~Hafiz
Living in the Flow of Passion
Human beings are social creatures; we have the desire and passion to deeply connect with one another, to love and be loved, to understand and be understood. These desires are universal, and when they stem from a place of wholeness, our relationships can thrive.
Often, however, we can experience conflict in our relationships and feelings of bitterness, resentment, fear, and anger can cause us to lose our passion to connect in loving ways, resulting in damaged and broken relationships.
Many obstacles to manifesting healthy relationships can be overcome by improving our communication with one another. Opening the channels of effective communication helps us build trust and reduce stress.
The Four Steps of Nonviolent Communication
We can begin to communicate more effectively with our loved ones by practicing nonviolent communication, a powerful technique developed by psychologist Marshall Rosenberg. Whenever we find ourselves in conflict with someone in our lives, asking ourselves the following questions will bring clarity to our feelings and help us communicate with awareness and compassion.
- What just happened? Describe the facts of the situation that is bothering you without judging or evaluating that you or the person did or didn’t do. Bring your awareness into the present and observe the situation without the judgment that springs from past experiences and emotions.
- What are the feelings arising in me? Next, pay attention to the emotions that are coming up for you and where you are feeling them in the body. Name your feelings, avoiding the language of victimization, such as abandoned, rejected, misunderstood, or unsupported. These are not feelings but are words that evaluate another person’s actions. Taking responsibility for our feelings helps us understand ourselves and keeps us from approaching our interactions from the standpoint of a victim.
- What do I need that I’m not receiving? Very often, we expect other people simply to know what it is we need in a given situation. This attitude is a residual feeling from infancy, when our parents or other caregivers responded to our every need without our clearly articulating them. It is important that we identify what we need and ask for it directly. Doing so leaves little room for misunderstanding, and we will have a greater chance of having our needs met.
- What do I want to request? Once you have identified what you need, the next step is to make a request, being as specific and clear as you can. As best you can, let go of any attachment to the other person responding in the way you want. In a healthy relationship, both people need to feel free to ask for what they need as well as to say yes or no to requests without being judged, blamed, or criticized. As you express your needs and remain open to the results, you will find your relationships becoming more authentic and fulfilling. It will also be easier to know when it’s time to let go of non-nurturing relationships.
By committing to the practice of creating positive relationships and communicating with awareness, we also commit to inviting greater joy and passion into our lives. As we embrace healthy relationships, let us be guided by this mantra: I live in the flow of passion and love, and see how richly our desires are fulfilled.
Chopra Addiction & Wellness Center programs are designed to help you develop tools for a new, healthy way of being. Learn more here.