Aaron Wolf, Water Issues Mediator, on DEEP LISTENING: The most profound thing is learning how to be really present in the room. When you talk to somebody like a Buddhist monk, you really feel their presence. One monk I met listened in a way that I can’t remember being listened to before. You really feel like you’re absolutely at the center of the universe. The practice of deep presence, of deep transformative listening, I think was the most important skill I learned. How to use silence in a productive and useful way. We’re not trained in that very well. In the rest of the world, they joke about Americans. The joke is, to an American, what is the opposite of speaking? The answer is “waiting to speak.” (not “listening”) You know this. When you listen, you watch people in conversation, that’s what they’re doing. Their whole body language, their whole energy, is waiting to jump into the conversation. Anger and force is, generally, a shield for vulnerability. And you can’t get to the vulnerability until you offer the silence, the space and the listening to allow the anger to spend itself, to dissipate. It’s only getting to that point, sharing the vulnerability, where you have a much more productive dialogue.
Daniel Goleman, Author, Emotional Intelligence, on KNOWING HOW YOUR BRAIN WORKS: Our brain is wired for a different reality than we live in today. The human brain, was shaped over about 80,000 generations when we mostly lived on savannahs dealing with real life urgent dire threats; snarling tigers, dangerous rustles in the woods that warned us that something was happening. Now we’re attuned to a range of dangers that we don’t face. Instead we face symbolic dangers, this is one of the complications.
Suzanne Kryder: And that symbolic danger is, for example, if somebody steps in front of you in the line at the post office, it’s like you’re being attacked, but really nothing’s wrong.
Goleman: Well, that’s exactly right. I mean the danger, the threat can be something like someone else took credit for my work, or hearing your spouse say, “Honey, we have to talk,” or any of those kinds of messages that we get that we might take as a potential threat. But, in fact, biologically there’s no threat at all and yet we respond with the same surge of stress hormones and shifts of blood to our limbs so we can run or fight. So we respond with kind of an overkill to threats in today’s life.
I remember going to a classroom in New Haven, Connecticut. On the wall of every room there was a poster, a stoplight, red light, yellow light, green light that says; “When you’re getting upset, remember the stoplight; Red light, stop, calm down and think before you act.” That’s the critical piece; to realize that our emotions come to us unbidden. We don’t expect them. We don’t ask for them. They come from an unconscious part of the brain, but once we feel a certain way, we have a choice point which is how we respond. Yellow light; think of a range of different things you could do. Green light; pick the best one and try it out. Well, kids at the schools are taught to use it from kindergarten on, but I think it’s good advice for any of us.
Eric Kolvig, meditation teacher, on ENGAGING WITH YOUR OWN FEARS: Well Franklin Roosevelt, when he first became President, his very first words to this country are the ones that are most memorable. “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” This was in the middle of the Great Depression. A lot of people were suffering. In order to get past fear, to work our way through fear, we have to engage it directly to see what it is. Fear is always about something in the future. It’s never about something that’s happening in the moment. The future doesn’t exist. Fear is a projection of something that may or may not happen and when you see that, if you can see you’re simply projecting something into the future, you don’t have to believe it. You can say, “I don’t need to believe this.,” Then you come back to whatever your present situation, no matter how challenging it is. By reducing the fear, your present situation is much more workable.
Just one little example; years ago I was doing some deep therapeutic work and I was working with some severe trauma that I had as a child and as a result of doing that work, terror actually came up and not just in the therapeutic situation. So I was driving to work one day and I was experiencing terror. My hair was standing straight up, there were these waves of energy going through my body…a very intense experience. My mind happened to be strong at that moment and so I knew it was just fear and I was able to hold it. So as I just held fear there and just kept driving, I got to work and a co-worker greeted me and said, “How are you doing?” and I said, “Well, I’m experiencing terror right now, but otherwise I’m fine.” (audience laughter) And it was true. In that moment I didn’t have to believe the terror and so it was possible to feel all the physiological reactions and all of the contractions in the mind and say “okay, this is just fear.”
Byron Katie, Author, 1000 Names for Joy, on CHALLENGING YOUR OWN THOUGHTS: “The Work” is a way to identify and question the thoughts that cause all the suffering in the world. Everyone’s suffering and anyone can do “The Work” if they’re open to it. So let’s say, for example, I believed “he doesn’t care about me.” The first question is; “Is it true?” So I’m beginning to question the thought; “He doesn’t care about me.”
The second question; “Can I absolutely know that it’s true… he doesn’t care about me?” And then I notice how the mind begins to flood me with proof and images to convince me that it’s true and just to notice and wait and to allow another answer to surface.
And then that third question; “How do you react when you believe that thought?”
And the fourth question; “Who would you be without that thought?”
Then I invite people to turn it around to the opposite; “He doesn’t care about me.” The opposite would be, “I don’t care about me,” and that’s a mind blower. It’s like, how can I expect people to care about me if I don’t even care about me? Then I find the ways that I don’t care about me and it wakes me up to them and I’m shocked.
And then another opposite or turn around would be; “I don’t care about him,” and I begin to identify where that’s true and then immediately I’m awake to it and my behavior changes and it’s nothing I have to do. So my behavior with that person and everyone, it radically shifts because we’re working on original cause and mind is original cause. Mind is cause.
Sadness is always a sign that you’re believing a stressful thought that isn’t true for you. Conventional wisdom says differently, but the truth is that sadness isn’t rational, it isn’t a natural response, and it can’t ever help you. It just indicates the loss of reality, the loss of the awareness of love.
Former Army Captain, Author, Paul Chappell on EMPATHIZING WITH THE OTHER: So the thing about waging peace, is that you respect others as human beings and your opponent is ignorance, hatred, greed, misunderstanding and you want to attack those things and defeat those things. If you hate the people exhibiting these characteristics---hate them back or if you demonize them, you actually magnify their hatred.
Because if you look at Martin Luther King, Jr., he was getting dozens of death threats a day, his house was bombed, he was arrested multiple times, he was eventually killed, but you never saw him talk about the people who were pressing him in this demonizing, dehumanizing way that you see liberals talk about conservatives and vice versa and he had much more right to demonize his opponent. Or look at Nelson Mandela. Nelson Mandela was in jail for 27 years and he was actually able to win the hearts and minds of some of his prison guards through having a respectful attitude towards them.
Marshall Rosenberg, creator, nonviolent communication on ESTABLISHING THE QUALITY OF THE CONNECTION: So non-violent communication says, “Let’s learn how to be honest about how we are.” First of all, to tell people specifically what they’re doing that is or is not contributing to our well-being and to be very specific about that, not to mix in any diagnoses or any analyses. You call that a clear observation.
And then once we’ve done that, we’re honest with people, but we’re honest with them from the heart by telling them what’s alive in us when they do that and that more specifically is how we feel, what emotions we feel and we connect our feelings to our needs and then we follow that up with the other question; “What would make life more wonderful?” and we answer that with a very clear request not using any fuzzy language, but exactly what would we like back from that person at this moment in response to what we have said, in response to the fact that some of our needs are not getting met by their behavior.
Ingles: We’re happy to have actor Linda Rodeck here with us today who are occasionally going to give voice to some of these concepts and role-play some with Marshall. Linda’s going to give us a brief “before and after” demonstration of NVC to get us started here. This is right from Marshall’s book, so here’s the before scene; Linda as a frustrated mom of a teenager.
Rodeck: “Thomas, I’ve told you a million times to keep this living room clean! You make me crazy! Pick up all these socks now or you’re not getting to use the car tonight.”
Ingles: Okay, so Marshall, let’s start with the “before” shot here. I’m guessing this approach sounds pretty familiar to listeners. Some would say there’s a firm threat of punishment there that may accomplish the goal of getting the socks picked up. What’s wrong with the picture?
Rosenberg: Well, what’s wrong with the picture is that it looks like the mother has single-mindedness of purpose to get the son to do what she wants and whenever we have single-mindedness of purpose, it’s our objective to get what we want. It leaves the other person with the impression that what’s alive in them doesn’t matter and when people believe that, they don’t enjoy doing what we’re asking them to do even if it’s something they would generally enjoy doing. And so they’re more likely then to resist doing it or do it with an energy we’ll pay for.
Ingles: Okay, so from Marshall’s book now, another option, same scenario; frustrated mom with a teenager…this time using NVC.
Rodeck: “Thomas, when I see two balls of dirty socks under the coffee table and another three next to the TV, I feel irritated because I’m needing more order in the rooms that we share in common. Would you be willing to put your socks in your room or in the washing machine?”
Ingles: So how do the components work here to make this more effective in your view?
Rosenberg: She did say what she observed. She said her feeling and needs and made a clear request. She used the mechanics perfectly. But many people use the mechanics hoping that it will be a way of getting what they want. (audience laughter) Because one of the hardest things for people to give up in using non-violent communication is the objective of winning; getting what you want.
Now when I say that, many people think that I’m suggesting you be a chump and just give up your needs and give in. No, not at all. The objective is to create the quality of connection that will get everybody’s needs met, but that means we cannot be addicted to getting our request fulfilled by the other person. It means we’re more interested in the quality of connection than in any specific result.
Azim Khamisa, teacher of peace programs in schools, founder Tariq Khamisa Foundation named for his son killed by random gang violence: I started with a very simple premise; that violence is a learned behavior. Nobody was born violent. None of our children were born violent. We’ve accepted violence as a learned behavior. Non-violence can also be a learned behavior, but who teaches that? At Tariq Khamisa Foundation we do teach it. We have a lesson on empathy and empathy is a big word in some of these middle schools, so we usually have a theme and the theme on empathy is “I don’t know you until I walk a mile in your shoes and you don’t know me until you walk a mile in my shoes.”
One of the key messages we teach is that from conflict, love and unity are possible.