I didn’t know this was a French bestseller book translated to English, until i flipped to the initial pages to check out the published date. It was first published in 2001 in French. Then 2007 in English. I will say this is one of the more interesting books that I read, but it does need a little of digestion and time. This book underlies the process of Nonviolent Communication (NVC) that Marshall Rosenberg developed through the works of Carl Rogers.
The author feels that most people never acquired a vocabulary for their inner lives. We never learned to describe accurately what we were feeling and what needs we had. We learned and talked about history, science, literature…. But the words for life within… when did we learn them? Hence as we grew up we became alienated from our feelings and needs in an attempt to listen to those of our mother,father, brothers, siters, schoolteachers etc….
Then one day the payment comes due for such alienation! Shyness, depression, misgivings, hesitations in reaching decisions, inability to choose, difficulties to commit, a loss of taste for life. Help! Hence we need to get in touch with ourselves to seek a solid grounding.
The author introduced the process of the following areas : Intellectual, Feelings, Needs, The Request to get in touch with ourselves.
1) Intellect (or observation)
– We judge sometimes based on what we see. We take the little we have seen for the whole. Furthermore, there is automate thinking of prejudices example Politicians are corrupt. You have to fight in life.
Most of us have gotten into the habit of expressing things in terms of black and white, positie and negative. This is as though we could not possibly be both a brilliant intellectual and an effective manual worker. We use a language that allows us not to feel responsible for what we’re experiencing or for what we are doing. We find scapegoat, we make heads roll, we off-load our negative energy onto someone else who serves as a lightning rod for our frustrations.
It is useful to identify our feelings because they inform us about ourselves and to identify our needs. Feelings operate like a flashing light on a dashboard, indicating whether a need is being met. As we are so often cut off from our feelings ,we tend to have few words to describe them. Acquiring vocabulary goes hand in hand with developing awareness; it is because we have learned to name elements and differentiate among them that we can understand how they interact – and modify such interaction as necessary.
Example I don’t understand much about plumbing, and when my water heater doesn’t switch on. I call a plumber and tell him what the problem is. My level of awareness of the elements at play and myability to act on them are pretty close to zero. As for the plumber, he wil identify what is going on and express that in practical terms : “The burner is dead” or “The pipes are scaled up, and the gas injector has had it.” This gives the plumber the power to act and in this case, power to repair.
3) Needs (or values)
The very act of identifying our need, without it even being met, already produces relief and a surprising degree of well-being. As we long as we are unaware of our needs, we don’t know how to meet them. As long as we fail to explain in concrete terms to the other party how we wish to see our need met, we might as well see our request crushed under the weight of an insatiable need.
If needs aren’t followed by a concrete request in an identifiable time and space (example need for recognition), it often looks to the other person as a treat. The other person wonders if he or she will have the capacity to survive such an expectation and remain themselves, maintaining their identity and not be swallowed up by the other person. We cut off the listening primarily to protect ourselves. When I perceive listening to another’s need as a threat, I cut myself off from it, and flee or I take refuge in silence.
4) The request (or concrete and negotiable action)
Making a request means we assume responsibility for the management of our need and therefore assume responsibility for helping it to meet it. By seeing what underlies our request and identifying our need, we give ourselves freedom. By taking care of our true need instead of haggling over our request, we together free ourselves from the trap, and we give ourselves a space to meet, a space to create!
Becoming Aware of what we are truly experiencing
People who radiate deep well-bring, a joy of living in this world, are those who give precedence to the quality of the relationships they have with others, with their environment, and with what they do -beginning with the quality of the relationship they have with themselves. I can state that I have not yet met anyone, whether adult or child who fundamentally does not enjoy contributing to the well-being of others, even if such willingness is well-hidden, buried in a corner of the heart or transformed into aggression through bitterness.
In the expression “You always leave all your things lying around,” which many believe is an objective observation, which there is perhaps just one objective word – and that might be you! And worse, the sentence is spoken in a tone easily interpreted as accusing.
– The word “always” allows the same tiredness to show. Obviously, what just occurred does not occur always, and the other person, of course will not miss the opportunity to retort.
– The word “leave” judge an attitude more than it observes a behavior.
– The word” all” is used inaccurately here. Obviously, it is not a question of all and the other person will not fail to point that out to me.
– The word “lying around” is too strong. He will instantly think, then say “I live. I play. I create, and I am alive, right? And all you can say is that I leave things lying around.
As you can see, virtually every word in this sentence generated resistance, opposition and defiance in the other person. By starting a dialogue in this way, we can count on the noncollaboration of other people who feel themselves judged and criticized. They will then by putting their energy into justifying themselves, attempting to save face, rather than listening to our needs. Indeed, in our often almost desperate quest for another’s approval, we tend, when there is conflict, to strive to re-establish unanimity as soon as possible by argument, control or even submission.
By contrast, if we start dialogue with a neutral reference to something that is preoccupying us (neutral observation), “I see your stuff lying on the carpet in the drawing room, your shoes on the hall carpet etc.” We take advantage of the opportunity to inform the other person of our need.
In order to change, seek first the smallest thing we might do, and change will follow. The smallest – not the most painful, but the most pleasant, this often comes as a surprise to people beause our mind, accustomed to perforamnce and bent on results, seeks a trial of force, a significant challenge, as if reality were not made up of many little things woven with other little things… and yet more little things that together make up very big things.
Becoming Aware of what others are truly experiencingAs long as we don’t know what we’re looking for, we try to fill the void with all sorts of tricks. Sooner or later each of us will be called upon to review how we define our life and our priorities – and deal with issues surrounding meaning. A father, a businessman told me how his 12 year old son asked him why he worked 10 hours a day and why he never seemed to be at home.
“To earn a living,” replied the father.
“Yes, but why?” continued the child.
“For our security and comfort,” said the father.
“If its for my security and my comfort, I’d rather you come to get me from school at 4 o’clock and we go and do sports together.”
Here is a father who reassed his priorities and, after consulting with his son, agreed that once a week they would go and be involved in sports after school.”
Sometimes what hurts does not necessarily harm … and often helps. If today I manage to support people at the bottom of their pit in a more satisfactory way, it’s because I have understood that what they need most is presence, to not be be alone. If I display for him all my solutions, my good reasurrance advice, I am not taking care of him but of me, of my anxiety. So then he is more and more alone, more and more convinced that no one can understand the extend of his distress. And then the only solution for such a person is suicide,the ultimate anesthesia.
Wheras, if through empathy I reach him, if I accompany him in his distress with my fully compassionate presence, he has a greater chance of feeling less lonely. Doubtless he is experiencing great pain, but at the same time we are together. We connect to feeling and needs in four ways : the stages of empathy.
Stage 1 : Doing nothing
Stage 2 : Focusing our attntion on the other’s feelings and needs
Stage 3: Reflecting another’s feelings and needs
German philosopher Friedrich Nietzche once said, ” Power is in the method.” To learn a new lanaguage, a new sport or any technique, one needs method, rigor, tenancity and discipline. Three minutes, three times a day listening to yourself without judging, without blaming, without advising , without trying to find a solution. Three presence filled minutes for you, not for your plans or concerns. Three minutes to take stock of your inner state without trying to change anything. Three times to connect with yourself, check that you are truly present to yourself, and that to the question, Is someone home? you can truly answer with all your being, “Yes I am here” Do this three times a day ! It is out of this quality of presence to yourself that may well be born a quality of presence to others.”
The above section of the book about being present, strikes me as being familiar knowledge. I think I have read in a book called “A Rich Man’s Secret” by Ken Roberts https://dailytools.wordpress.com/2008/07/21/a-rich-mans-secret/
Be aware of gratitude and express it.. for all the needs that have been met. Be grateful even with everything collapsing around us- for being able to take the next breath, to have hands to feel, to have eyes to see.