Nonviolent communication with your self and others is how you make peace with war.
Are you a giraffe or a jackal? Maybe you are a combination of both. Before you answer read a bit further.
We are all aware of the opposites. Those polarities such as dark and light or positive and negative, in our life and our world. We know while wars go on in one place, peace prevails in another. In every family there are times of dissension and sometimes out and out “war”. Wars can start with family members, friends or with your children.
What causes us to be at “war” in our family, with our children or with others in our lives? It may start with two different points of view. Then it may move into feelings of self- blame, blaming others or believing things are unfair.
Something like a request that isn’t heeded, such as “Please pick up” or “Stop arguing with your brother”, escalates from a simple request into war. Of course your children don’t always agree with what you want and, rationally, you know that’s life.
Parents and children either learn how to get what they need in a positive, encouraging way or in a frustrating, “war like” angry, demanding, self-confidence-shredding way.
The latter is the language of the jackal. When we feel judged, not respected, accused or unfairly treated we react with the fierceness of the jackal. The language of the jackal is using a sharp tongue to criticize, judge, analyze and separate as defined in Nonviolent Communication by Marshal Rosenberg.
The Giraffe, on the other hand, feels into things with its heart. When you speak giraffe, you unify, connect and look for solutions. You look at differences as an opportunity for choice or to approach the situation in a different way. The giraffe feels into things with compassion for self and others.
The giraffe’s way of thinking and speaking can expand your behavior and allow you to view other perspectives more rationally, even those of your children.
Every child is different in a family. One child may react one way to a request and their sibling may have a totally opposite reaction. Their differences can cause us, as parents, to grow and understand other perspectives. Or to start battle and out and out war.
The most important piece is to find that place of empowerment and compassion within.
Nonviolent communication has been developed to be used in places of severe conflict.
Nonviolent communication allows us to shift our thinking from good and bad judgments to heart-felt connections.
When your child says or does something opposite of what you expect, you can:
- Blame yourself: “I’m a bad parent, it’s my fault she’s like this.”
- Blame the child: “You are so selfish.”
- Connect to your feelings and needs: “I feel disappointed, because I need recognition for the effort I’ve made.”
- Guess your child’s feelings and needs: “Are you feeling reluctant because you want to make your own choices?”
When we connect to our true feelings and needs, our children’s need for connection gets met and they are more likely to want to cooperate – making life better for all! This doesn’t mean there are no consequences for poor choices.
When we understand and celebrate other’s feelings and needs, we can joyfully find ways to meet their needs and ours.
The next time a polarizing situation arises, pause a moment to determine if you are reacting like a jackal or a giraffe. Before starting a war, connect to your heart like a giraffe so as to approach the situation with compassion and nonviolent communication.