What’s Up Next? Sunday, October 2, 2016 ~ Wit is in the Ear (On Listening)

Street Giraffe is a free tele-practice group that gathers on the first Sunday of each month to build ‘street [giraffe] cred’ – cultivating presence to enhance self-expressive versatility (&/or the capacity to embody NVC consciousness).  

Email:  StreetGiraffe@gmail.com

More About Street Giraffe

Other NVC Learning Venues

The only learning which significantly influences behavior is self-discovered, self-appropriated learning. – Carl Rogers


Two Questions

The 2 Parts and 4 Components of NVC

“In the field of observation, chance favors the prepared mind.”
Louis Pasteur

NVC Model

empathetically listening:





honestly expressing:





NVC Model | NVC concepts | Feelings List | Needs List | NVC Chapter One

The four-part NVC process is used for expressing and for listening:


“The process of learning an art can be divided conveniently into two parts: one, the mastery of the theory, the other, the mastery of the practice.” Erich Fromm

NVC Benefits

A Few Tools in Our Toolbox:


“An NVC practice as ‘dustpan & brush’…”
~ Kit Miller

The Spiral – Work That Reconnects

I.    Opening to gratitude
II.  Honoring/owning our pain (for the world)
III.  Seeing with New Eyes
IV.  Going Forth

Art by Dori Midnight

Flowers, Tears & Lightbulbs Journal

Four inquiries to consider, prior to our call (if possible):

  • What is working about your NVC practice? (opening to gratitude)
  • What gets in the way of communicating mindfully? (honoring our pain)
  • What is your vision for speaking and listening with peace? (seeing with new eyes)
  • What next step(s) can you take, right now, to enhance the quality of connection you seek? (going forth)

(Borrowed from Taste of Compassionate Leadership Free Teleclass – NVC Academy)

Our Toolbelt:


Opening-to-Gratitude &/or Honoring/Owning-Our-Pain
(Identifying and working with a stimulus):

ZENVC Journal (PDF format)

pen on paper: 'Dear diary'

Seeing with New Eyes
(Discovering NVC-‘Principle-Based’-Growing-Edges):

Self-Assessment Matrix – [PDF]

Matrix small

Going Forth (iGiraffe/Dialogue-Lab):

Hart’s Communication-Flow-Chart

ZENVC’s Communication Flow Chart



Three Layers of Empathy

What’s Up Next?

Sunday, October 2, 2016 ~ Wit is not on the tongue, but in the ear…

Image result for shakespeare a jest prosperity lies in the ear

Inquiry:  If you view NVC as a kind of mindfulness discipline, then how do you move your practice ‘off of the cushion’ and onto the street (into ‘relational mindfulness’ of practical reality, such as navigating political differences as a consequential election looms ever larger on the horizon)?  For example, how do you strike a balance between your own authentic self-expression and the spacious understanding of listening to another’s point-of-view (how to envelope multiple vantage points)?

Jon Kabat-Zinn: Listening is an Act of Love

The mindfulness practice below could be done while listening to the radio, watching TV, reading a book/magazine, or any other setting where the task at hand is to attune to the thoughts of another…

Via Mindful.org ~ Guidelines to Mindful Listening by Diane Winston

  1. Give the speaker your full attention.  This is easier said than done, but simply requires an intention to do so and a bit of persistence.  We can offer our presence in a relaxed way, just being there for another.  Mindfully focus on the person.  Let them be your main object of awareness.
  2. Use your body to help you stay present.  Our body is an incredible doorway into the present moment.  Our mind can be anywhere:  past, future, lost, reactive, spaced out, daydreaming, ruminating, angry, anxious…but our bodies are always in the present moment.  If we can remember to bring our minds into our bodies — just feel a body sensation or two — while we are listening, we have immediate access to the present moment.
  3. When your attention wanders away (and it will) simply return to the present moment, which means listening to them.  This guideline is analogous to how we practice our sitting meditation:  we focus on our breathing or whatever is our main object, and when our mind wanders — and it always wanders — we gently, but firmly return our attention to our breath.  This aspect of the technique should be familiar to anyone who practices mindfulness meditation.

A jest’s prosperity lies in the ear
Of him that hears it, never in the tongue
Of him that makes it. ~ Shakespeare

Rosaline, Scene ii ~ Love’s Labour’s Lost

The Magic of Mindful Listening

Tricycle:  Cleaning Out the Storehouse

by Ben Connelly — Fall 2016

On Cultivating Awareness:

Here is an easy practice…It takes a minute or two.  Stop and take three mindful breaths and notice how you feel in your heart and in your body.  Then list ten things from the past that planted seeds in the storehouse and that were involved in creating your perception of this moment.  Since everything is connected, anything that ever happened counts, but it’s not good to focus on emotional states.  Here’s an example:  after lunch I stop and take three mindful breaths.  Then I use my fingers to count to ten and say or think, “My perception of this moment depends on loving my mom, the rainy road last night, the terror of war, white privilege, meditating this morning, my grumpy grandpa, watching baby birds, never feeling good enough when I was young, being afraid of the dark, worrying about work.”  Then I move on.  There’s no need to analyze, just let the seeds of remembering how much the past forms the present sink into the unconscious, the storehouse.  Reminders that infinite seeds form our moments help us shed the habit of believing everything we think, they help us be patient with the slow hard road to liberation; and they help us focus on the ground of our deepest empowerment:  the ability to transform our consciousness.

5 ways to listen better | Julian Treasure


How to speak so that people want to listen | Julian Treasure


See also:

Inert vs. Resonant

One way of framing mastery as a Nonviolent Communication practitioner, may be akin to what Sarah Peyton refers to as the cultivation of “resonant” empathy — as characterized in the quote beneath — fine tuning one’s instrument (or being) and capacity to be (vibrationally) “resonant” with others, rather than merely “inert”…




From the author, Piero Ferrucci, who begins his chapter on empathy, in a book titled The Power of Kindness, with this instrumental analogy:

“Although I am not a musician, I once had the opportunity to hold in my hands an exquisitely made violin dating to the eighteenth century.  What amazed me, even more than its harmonious lines or the beautiful grain of its wood, was that, holding it, I could feel it vibrate.  It was not an inert object.  It resonated with the various sounds that happened to resonate around it:  another violin, a tram passing in the street, a human voice.  If you hold an ordinary, factory-made violin, that just doesn’t happen.  There can be hundreds of sounds around it and the violin remains numb.  In order to obtain that fine sensitivity and extraordinary resonance of the old violin, the makers had to had an exceptional knowledge of wood and its seasoning; they were supported by the artisan tradition of generations, and they were endowed with the talent of cutting the wood and furnishing the instrument.  This marvelous responsiveness is an active virtue.  It is the capacity of the violin to enter into resonance, and it goes hand in hand with its capacity to create sound of extraordinary quality — music with a soul, able to move and to inspire.  We human are, or at least can be, like that violin.”





Posted in Dialogue, Resonant Empathy, What's Up Next? | Tagged , | Leave a comment

9/4/16 ~ Walking in the Dark


What’s Up Next?

Image result for walking in the dark

Sunday, September 4, 2016 ~ Walking in the Dark

Jesse Wiens, Author at ZENVC:  “Now really begins the practice of walking our talk about walking in the dark.”

Inquiry:  How do you find accompaniment, both within and without, while ‘walking in the dark’?


I first encountered the idea of ‘walking in the dark’ (in an NVC context) while perusing a chart — titled Common NVC States — with its authors [NVC certified trainers] Catherine Cadden & Jesse Wiens of ZENVC, a portion of which I’ve excerpted below.  The chart outlines how it’s possible to transition from a more constricted state towards a more expansive one (aligned with NVC consciousness).  Wiens and Cadden noted that, “The final state, ‘Being Fully Human’, is a state of being that tends to occur as a by-product of practicing ‘Walking in the Dark’.”

Image result for walking in the dark

Beneath the work of:

ZENVC: The Way With and Without Words

[One column excerpted from] “Common NVC Mind States” – Walking in the Dark

Intention:  To connect, being willing to not know how that looks

Underlying Beliefs:  “I don’t know what’s best in this moment”

Consequences of Acting from this State:  Increased connection.  Freedom from old patterns of behavior.  Limitless potential.

Life-Serving Motivation:  Contribute to Life

Observations:  Just what’s right in front of you.

Feelings/Body Awareness:  More felt than named.  Opening to being with pain in self and others, especially darkness and despair.

Needs Awareness:  More felt than named.  Opening to not knowing what the needs ‘are’.

Requests:  “What would serve Life in this moment?”  Opening to receiving the answer…or not.

For more information as to the “Common NVC Mind States” (chart), please contact Jesse and Catherine directly here:  Contact Us and/or view these additional links:  Who We AreHandouts, Articles and Recordings


Notice that in describing both the feelings and needs quality of walking-in-the-dark, the phrase “more felt than named” is offered.  (We’ll return to this idea of something “more felt than named” next by introducing the “Felt sense” and “felt shift” of [Inner RelationshipFocusing .)


Focusing is… the murky edge

Gene Gendlin introduces Focusing

Felt Sense, Body, Situation with Gene Gendlin

Six Steps (en) – The Focusing Institute

How to Focus and Get a Felt Sense: 12 Steps (with Pictures)

In this video clip (directly beneath), Gina Cenciose discusses how translating jackals into feelings and needs (NVC) — while a wonderful structure — can sometimes be harder for her than the process of getting a ‘felt sense’ (and/or ‘handle’) in the modality of focusing.  I’ve found, too, that there is a kind of freedom and creativity that intermingling both modalities — NVC & Focusing — affords, especially in our attempts to accompany that which resides within (intrapersonal exploration/accompaniment; a.k.a. self-connection, the foundation or cornerstone of any interpersonal exploration).



As with last week exploration of  Miki Kashtan‘s commitment as to Risking My Significance, Gina demonstrates how one might be with that which is yet murky inside of us and how, in climbing out on this limb, transition from a more one dimensional or “static” awareness (i.e. merely labeling feelings/needs, etc.) into something that morphs, thereby becoming more fully flesh out as we go along.

GC key diff 1

See also:  Healing Writer’s Block – YouTube



Craig Meriwether interviews Dr. Ann Weiser Cornell

Puppetmaster Rosenberg

Marshall Rosenberg NVC Role Play – YouTube

Marshall Rosenberg mentions Focusing:
At the seven minute mark Marshall says, “Deep breath.  You see… Now this giraffe is glad that it has practiced focusing because it’s spent a lot of time learning how to get in touch with its feelings and needs and it can give itself some emergency first aid empathy right now to deal with what’s going on so that it can then focus its attention on the other person again.”


Continue reading

Posted in Feelings/Needs, Focusing, Insight-oriented, NVC & Other Modalities, Practice Resources - ZENVC, What's Up Next? | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

8/7/16 ~ Risking Our Significance


What’s Up Next?

Sunday, August 7, 2016 ~ Risking Our Significance

Image result for risking significance

Inquiry courtesy of Miki Kashtan (via Risking My Significance):

Inquiry:  What would it be like to throw yourself into the world in your fullness, to let go of whatever is holding you in place, safe and alone?


Via Miki Kashtan – Commitment #3: Risking My Significance – Metta Center

Risking my Significance:

Even when I am full of doubt, I want to offer myself in full to the world. If I find myself thinking that I am not important or that my actions are of no significance, I want to seek support to come back to my knowledge that my presence and my gifts matter.

Image result for risking significance


What would change in your life if you trusted that you matter? Here are some examples:

1) Make a pact with yourself to offer your ideas and gifts even when you don’t fully trust them. Make it concrete by choosing a certain number of times a day or a week that you commit to doing it.

2) Share your celebrations and mourning with people in your life. Expand and deepen with those you already do so, and add new people to the circle.

3) Reflect or journal on your experiences: how did you feel? In what way did your offering support the purpose for which you did it? How was it received? How did you respond to the way it was received? Also, track yourself over time to see if risking your significance gets easier with practice. If not, bring tenderness to whatever is holding you up from doing it with true willingness. Fully accepting that aspect of you can make it more possible that such willingness will find you over time.  (see more here:  Core Commitments)


We are at least familiar with the ideal of "wanting fully without attachment" in sports, where we are taught that fair play in a hard fought, enjoyable game is more important than who wins. A fine example this year was the graciousness with which Elena Dementieva (left) conceded defeat to Serena Williams in the Australian Open semifinal in January. Art by SUZANNE SHERMAN

We are at least familiar with the ideal of “wanting fully without attachment” in sports, where we are taught that fair play in a hard fought, enjoyable game is more important than who wins. A fine example this year was the graciousness with which Elena Dementieva (left) conceded defeat to Serena Williams in the Australian Open semifinal in January.

Tikkun Magazine, January/February 2010

Wanting Fully Without Attachment

by Miki Kashtan

The origin of suffering is attachment. – The Buddha

The Talmud tells us that in the world to come, everyone will be called to account for all the desires they might have fulfilled in this world but chose not to.  The things we desire—the desires themselves—are sacred.  Who put them in our hearts if not God?  But we have been taught to be ashamed of what we want; our desires become horribly distorted and cause us to do terribly hurtful things. – Alan Lew, from This is Real and You are Completely Unprepared

If you have had a spiritual practice or have experience with personal growth workshops, you have no doubt heard many times that letting go of attachment increases happiness and well-being. The principle is simple, but exactly what does it mean to let go of attachment, and what do we do to get there?

Sometimes it appears as if spiritual traditions suggested that the only way to let go of attachment is to give up on what we want. But is this the only way to interpret the old traditions? Is wanting really inseparable from attachment? Or is it possible to want what we want with full passion without the constriction of being attached? Can we remain genuinely relaxed about whether or not we get what we want? And if we can do this in our personal lives, what about as social and political beings, as we relate to the state of the world? Why would we even want to release attachment when our passion is for the world—be it for social justice, peace, sustainability, or any other cause?

The challenge arises primarily when we experience tension between what we want and what is or what seems possible. We frequently respond in one of two ways. Externally, we might try to force what is to conform to what we want by outright coercion and threats or by using more subtle forms of demands. Internally, we might try to suppress or give up on what we want. Both of these strategies lead to suffering. Neither of these paths engages with life openly. In both we are forcing others or ourselves instead of being in a dialogic relationship.

What follows is an attempt to outline a new path, different from forcing or giving up; a path that affirms who we are and accepts what is; a path that allows creative strategies to arise from a quality of connection that recognizes and affirms our own and others’ needs, aspirations, and dreams.

And what about social transformation? you may wonder. To begin with, if we are unable to tolerate the world as it is, we will be at war with the world, putting ourselves in danger of re-creating the very same structures we are seeking to transform. The path of wanting without attachment supports our work for change in two key ways. Internally, as we grow in our capacity to want without attachment, our inner peace increases. Externally, our capacity to release attachment and continue to want and work toward our deepest dreams provides a foundation for an entirely different approach to working toward change in the world: we can then work without urgency, with less burnout, with more capacity to dialogue with those we encounter along the way, and with a sense of clear vision instead of opposition… (continues here:  Tikkun Magazine)

Dialogue with Giraffe (2001), 24 X 20 (with border, total size: 30 X 22), polaroid

Kashtan:  “If you have ever participated in meditation of any kind, you probably know that most forms of meditation involve returning attention to an object of focus whenever attention wanders. Some meditation practices focus on the breath (many forms of Buddhist and Yogic meditation), some on certain bodily sensations (some forms of Vipassana meditation, for example), some on specific words (mantras in transcendental meditation), and some on specific sequences of ideas and images (some forms of Jewish meditation).

In an entirely similar manner, you can develop a meditation practice that focuses on connecting with needs. The object of focus is the line “I have a need for ____.” Just as with any other form of meditation, your mind will likely wander. You will likely hear internal responses, such as: “But this need cannot be met; why bother?” or “Yeah, but this person is not going to change,” or “I should just grow up and get over this petty wish of mine,” or “This is not just about some personal need of mine. This is about everyone’s right to dignity.” The aim of the practice is to bring your attention back to the need you are meditating on—without harshness. Rather than punishing yourself for wandering, just gently bring your attention back.

Encountering and connecting with needs is different from naming them as checklist items. Whenever we do this practice, we can take a moment to breathe, to really experience the flavor of that need being inside of us—exactly what it feels like, what the sensations of having this need are, and what this need means to us…”  (continues)

Audio (via NVC Academy):  Wanting Fully without Attachment


The Fearless Heart: Why Wanting Matters

Excerpt from Kashtan’s blog post (link above): … Two years ago I wrote a full-length article about it in Tikkun Magazine. I called it Wanting Fully without Attachment. My aha moment was discovering that it’s attachment that leads to suffering, not wanting per se. Wanting, I believe, is the core energy that makes life happen. When I look at small children, I see powerful and sturdy wanting, and the willingness to take sometimes enormous risks to move in that direction. It takes years and years of punishment and regimentation before we give up on what we want and lose track of that vibrancy of life within us. In my work with people, the surest way to rekindle aliveness and a sense of meaning in life is to reconnect with that passion that used to be all of ours.  Attachment, on the other hand, is the attempt to make life be a certain way. It makes us lose our openness to life, our creative and imaginative capacity to dance with what life presents without losing track of what we want, and our capacity to embrace the fullness of our experience even when it’s not what we want.  One of the key challenges in this unfolding and opening to what we want is that as we remove the lid on our wanting, it takes considerable spiritual fortitude to re-engage with our wanting without the illusory protection that comes with attachment to outcome. Because of this particular challenge, I see wanting without attachment as a deep spiritual practice. I am still learning, and will probably continue to learn…
 What's Up Next?  Sunday, January 20, 2013 ~ I Have a Dream...

BayNVC’s Facets of Self-Connection*:

Needs: Facets of Self-Connection

Purpose: This guided reflection is intended to support you in experiencing a variety of ways to connect with your needs, which you can use at any time in your daily life. People resonate differently with these different ways. You may want to explore each of these to see which support you in gaining more self-connection and inner freedom.  You can use these reflections as a series or separately from each other.

1. Focus your attention on a need that is not met to your satisfaction in
your life. Put your focus specifically on the unmet quality of this need. You can say to yourself: “My need for ____ is not met,” and repeat this phrase until you are fully connected with the experience of the unmet need. (You might want to close your eyes and focus inwardly while you do this.) What sensations do you notice in your body? What feelings arise?

2. Now shift your attention to the need itself. Not to the idea of having the need met, but to the need itself; to the fact of having a need. You can say to yourself: “I have a need for _____,” and repeat this phrase until you are fully connected with the experience of having the need. (You might want to close your eyes and focus inwardly while you do this.) What sensations do you notice in your body? What feelings arise?

3. Now shift your attention to the met quality of the need. What is it like for you when this need is met? You can imagine this need met, and say to yourself: “My need for _____ is met,” and repeat this phrase until you are fully connected with the experience of having this need met.  (You might want to close your eyes and focus inwardly while you do this.) What sensations do you notice in your body? What feelings arise?

4. Lastly, shift your attention to the need as a presence you want to
encounter (another meaning of “meet”). This is similar to focusing on the need without it being met or unmet, but may be experienced differently.  Focus on what it is like to meet this need in the sense of encountering it fully.  You might say to yourself: “Hello _____. Welcome,” and repeat this phrase until you are fully connected with the experience of having encountering this need. (You might want to close your eyes and focus inwardly while you do this.) What sensations do you notice in your body? What feelings arise?

5. Note any insight from the shift in focus, and or any needs met by the

6. Consider: when would you want to engage with each of these different
focuses on your needs? How might each serve you? What needs would you
want to meet through this focus?

7. Do you have any requests of yourself?

See also:  Do I Want It or Should It Happen? | Psychology Today

Miki’s Writings | The Fearless Heart &/or Beauty of the Needs – NVC Academy

Trainer Tips:

Miki Kashtan re: How to Differentiate Between Needs and Strategies

Kashtan: “Needs lists, how to say this, is intrinsically an approximation, and the reason for that is because it’s isolated concepts, and life is fluid — so whether or not something is a need, some people start getting into kind of hairy conversations about whether this is a need or not.  And, for me, what matters is two things, one is to ensure that what I’m talking about is clearly not attached to specific strategies.  And there is an acronym that someone came up with that helps with that distinction.  The acronym is Plato.  Like the philosopher Plato and it stands for…


If you have any one of those five in what you are imagining is a need, you know that it is a strategy, because it is in material reality. So that’s one thing.  Once you’ve taken all of those things out, you know that you are not in a particular strategy and you’re more likely to be in the energetic, spiritual, gestalt of the need, and then  — from there on — the second question is — “if this is sufficiently deep to find the self-connection that I want?”  So, for example, I can say that Comfort is a Need, but for me personally (I’m not saying for anyone else), most of the time (not even always) if I look inside to understand myself and what I come up with a need for comfort, it doesn’t feel like the end of a journey, it’s not really something I can go like ‘oh, yes that’s it I feel connected’ — than I keep inquiring and go deeper, but if it is sufficient than it’s a need, I don’t care what anyone else says, but in this moment it is a need.”

PLATO on: The Forms

FYI:  Upcoming Teleseminars with Miki Kashtan (courtesy of Adriana):

Fearless Heart Teleseminars

The next Fearless Heart Teleseminars are scheduled for the following dates:

Sunday, Sept 11, 10:30am – noon
Monday, Sept 12, 5:30 – 7:00pm
Sunday, Oct 16, 10:30am – noon
Monday, Oct 17, 5:30 – 7:00pm    

To access Miki’s blog posts, just visit thefearlessheart.org and search for topics of interest at the very bottom of the page.

To access the recordings and other information, click here. Note that these calls are focused on Miki’s blog posts, and reading them ahead of time will likely increase the benefit you get from the call.

If you are not registered for the Fearless Heart Teleseminars and would like to, click here . If you already registered once, you don’t need to register again.

Facing Privilege Calls

The next Facing Privilege calls are scheduled for the following dates:

Friday, July 29, 4:00 – 5:30pm
Sunday, Sept 11, 5:00 – 6:30pm
Monday, Sept 26, 9:30 – 11:00am
Monday, Oct 10, 5:00 – 6:30pm
Sunday, Oct 30, 1:00 – 2:30pm

To access the recordings, click here. This is also where you can acquaint yourself with the purpose of these calls and find resources for preparing. If you then would like to register, click here.

Principle-Based-Teaching Coaching Calls

The next Principle-Based-Teaching Coaching calls are scheduled for the following dates:

Thursday, Sept 22, 10:30am – noon   
Monday, Oct 3, 5:00 – 6:30pm

These calls are intended for people who are sharing NVC with others or preparing to do so. If you are new to NVC and/or are mostly planning to use NVC in a personal context within your life, it is very unlikely that these calls will be a fit for your learning needs.

To learn more and purchase a packet of materials, click here.

If you sense that these are calls you would like to participate in and would like to register, click here.

To access the recordings and other information, click here.

We look forward to your participation in any and all of the above calls!


Posted in Giraffe Consciousness, Practice Resources - Kashtan, Self-Responsibility, What's Up Next? | Leave a comment

7/3/16 ~ Gross Happiness


What’s Up Next?

Sunday, July 3, 2016 ~ Gross Happiness

Inquiry:  How do you measure/promote happiness (whether intra/interpersonal)? And/or honor pain?


Toolbox:   Gonzales:  Preparation for Authentic Dialogue

I was first introduced to Harriet Lerner’s notion of the conversational/relational “dance” in my early twenties and, since that time, have often found her strategic (dialogic) considerations thought provoking:

Harriet Lerner on Acts of Change


So whether opting to prep, in advance, for authentic communication (or merely to bite one’s proverbial tongue, in the moment), how does one tactically maximize one’s (and another’s) prospects for ‘gross happiness’?

In choosing to apprentice to the study of Nonviolent Communication, I’ve often noted that there are several elements that seem just too idealistic (almost to the point of naivety) to be taken seriously.  (One such notion is that of holding-everyone’s-needs-with-care and/or equally-valuing-all-the-needs-on-the-table — see near bottom of:  NVC’s Key Assumptions & Intentions.)

Of course, one could point to contemporary ‘real world’ correlaries such as Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness (or GNH), Joseph Stiglitz‘s Mismeasuring Our Lives:  Why GDP Doesn’t Add Up or the United Nations issuance of a World Happiness Report.

Image result for gross national happiness

   In Bhutan, Gross National Happiness Trumps Gross National Product


“Gross National Happiness is more important than Gross National Product”

– His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck, the Fourth King of Bhutan

The Story of GNH | GNH Centre Bhutan

However it’s tempting to dismiss such things as a contemporary utopian fad, out of step with harsher, crueler realities.  In contemplating harsh realities, there is nothing more mind-blowing, at least for me, than to confront the immovable geophysics (not to mention the ever acceleratingly/harrowing & crunched time tables) of climate change — hence, as one book title aptly puts it, This Changes Everything.  No longer does the notion of our (undeniable, planetary) interdependence seem the purview of bell bottoms and peace signs; it necessarily includes pin stripe suits calculating comparative advantage .

Adrienne Rich

“Re-vision – the act of looking back, of seeing with fresh eyes, of entering an old text from a new critical direction…”

Adrienne Rich, On Lies, Secrets, and Silence: Selected Prose 1966-1978

So, for the upcoming 4th of July holiday, I opted to crack open a dusty old tome and transcribe several quotes from the dawn of enlightenment towards a re-visioning of the ‘pursuit of happiness’…

Garry Wills, Inventing America:  Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence:

Wills, “We shall consider, later, the theoretical basis for Hutcheson’s formulae.   Here it is important to notice what emerges from them, almost as an afterthought, to become one of the most powerful concepts of the Enlightenment.  The equations were set up to measure in quasi-Newtonian fashion the ‘moment’ (motive force) of B, Benevolence; and since Benevolence is defined as the desire to promote happiness in others, the moment of virtue gives us the amount of happiness spread around in society.  The concept of distributable quantity of happiness is born of the numbering urge:”

Francis Hutcheson:  “In comparing the moral qualities of actions, in order to regulate our election among various actions proposed, or to find which of them has the greatest moral excellency, we are led by our moral sense of virtue thus to judge:  That in equal degrees of happiness expected to proceed from the action, the virtue is in proportion to the number of persons to whom the happiness shall extend (and here the dignity or moral importance of persons may compensate numbers); and in equal numbers, the virtue is as the quantity of the happiness or natural good; or that virtue is in a compound ratio of the quantity of the happiness or natural good; or that virtue is in a compound ratio of the quantity of good and number of enjoyers.  And, in some manner, the moral evil or vice is as the degree of misery and number of sufferers.  So that, that action is best — [here comes the momentous formula] — which accomplishes the greatest happiness for the greatest numbers.”

Adam Ferguson:  “Men are really cheated of their happiness in being made to believe that any occupation or pastime is better fitted to amuse themselves than that which at the same time produces some real good to their fellow creatures… If the public good be the principal object with individuals, it is likewise true that the happiness of individuals is the great end of civil society…If the individual owes every degree of consideration to the public, he receives, in paying that very consideration, the greatest happiness of which his nature is capable.”

Adam Smith:  “The happiness of mankind, as well as of all other rational creatures, seems to have been the original purpose intended by the Author of Nature when he brought them into existence.  No other end seems worthy of that supreme wisdom and benignity which we necessarily ascribe to him; and this opinion, which we are led to by abstract consideration of his infinite perfections, is still more confirmed by the examination of the works of Nature, which seem all intended to promote happiness and to guard against misery.  But, by acting according to the dictates of our moral faculties, we necessarily pursue the most effectual means for promoting the happiness of mankind.”

Depth Garry Wills | Video | C-SPAN.org

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Given that the Declaration of Independence, beyond (merely) the “pursuit of happiness” clause, also contained an itemized list of grievances…

An example of ‘Honoring Our Pain – For the World’:

Chief David Brown, “We’re hurting…We are heartbroken.”

NYT:  Dallas Police Chief David Brown, a Reformer, Becomes Face of Nation’s Shock

Police Chief David O. Brown of Dallas at a prayer vigil on Friday. Credit:  Spencer Platt/Getty Images

After the killings in Dallas, David O. Brown, the city’s police chief, became the face of the nation’s shock.

At multiple news conferences, he sorted through a jumble of reports, some of them wrong, as he narrated the standoff between his officers and the gunman. But he also offered simple, emotional words: “We’re hurting,” he said on Friday morning, in a moment of shared public grief.

His appearances may also have evoked a more personal grief. Just weeks after Chief Brown became the leader of the Dallas Police Department in 2010, his own son fatally shot a police officer and another man before being killed in a confrontation with the police.

“My family has not only lost a son, but a fellow police officer and a private citizen lost their lives at the hands of our son,” he said in a statement at the time. “That hurts so deeply I cannot adequately express the sadness I feel inside my heart.”

Since taking over the Dallas department, one of the nation’s largest, Chief Brown, 55, has earned a national reputation as a progressive leader whose top priority is improving relations and reducing distrust between the police department and the city’s minority residents…  (continues)

See also:

CNN:  Dallas police chief’s storied career marked by professional, personal tragedies

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6/5/16 ~ Integrating NVC


What’s Up Next?


Sunday, June 5, 2016 ~ Integrating NVC

“NVC is simple, but not easy.”

– Ike Lasater

Inquiry:  How do you integrate NVC?

Flowers, Tears & Lightbulbs Journal


Four inquiries:
  • What is working about your NVC practice? (gratitude)
  • What gets in the way of communicating with compassion? (honoring our pain)
  • What is your vision for speaking and listening with peace? (seeing with new eyes)
  • What next step(s) can you take, right now, to enhance the quality of connection you seek? (going forth)

(Borrowed from Taste of Compassionate Leadership Free Teleclass – NVC Academy)

Celebrate, Mourn, Learn Process


Posted in Insight-oriented, What's Up Next? | Tagged | Leave a comment

5/1/16 ~ Personifying Beelzebub (On Dehumanizing/’Otherness’)


What’s Up Next?

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Sunday, May 1, 2016 ~ Personifying Beelzebub
(On Dehumanizing/’Otherness’)

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Inquiry:  How do you gauge your level of enemy imagery — a.k..a. your point-of-view circa the ‘beelzebub personification spectrum’ (see below) — towards another?  And then how do you go about transfiguring your perceptions (if/when you opt to)?

The Connection Continuum:
<<< You and me (always moving back and forth) >>>continuum-connection

rage, disconnection and violence                                    connection, compassion, peace

On “SNL” Dana Carvey’s Church Lady Returns To Interview Trump and Cruz

Puppetmaster Rosenberg

We’ll be practicing with awareness of — see:  Dynamics of Self-Connection — and working with our Enemy Imagery on the call.


Reptilian Brain & Mindsight

 The Exercise – Shifting Toward Compassion

Even though this is an online exercise, you still need a pen or pencil and a piece of paper with a blank side. I created this exercise so people can have what I call a “Shift”. By that I mean experience a “shift” in what you are thinking about and a shift in how you feel. Read More …

The Connection Continuum:
<<< You and me (always moving back and forth) >>>continuum-connection

rage, disconnection and violence                                    connection, compassion, peace

Dr Daniel Siegel presenting a Hand Model of the Brain

Dan Siegel: Name it to Tame it

Amygdala Hijack & Emotional Intelligence

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Recently I noticed, on the political scene, Lucifer has gotten quite a lot of press:


“An unconscious relationship is more powerful than a conscious one.” ~ Soren Kierkegaard

Image courtesy of wikimedia commons

Human beings, as they evolved, didn’t lose the fight or flight response; they just built on top of this “reptilian brain.” The new layer was the “cerebral cortex,” which allowed us to reflect on experiences and develop ideas rather than just act out instinctual responses.

~ David Rickey

Quilt, Hissing My Plea

Enemy Imagery processes are commonplace, in NVC apprenticeship certainly, however while witnessing this most recent spate of Lucifer-themed current events and noting the apparent ubiquity of our tendency towards demonic attributions of our fellow human beings (conceptualizing how we characterize those, both domestic and abroad), I became a bit more curious to understand the Judeo-Christian origins of this tendency, the ethos in which we swim, that seems to act upon us regardless of any belief system or lack thereof.


There is real pain in America, and where you sit along the ideological spectrum dictates whom you see as your Satan and whom as your savior. ~ 

Origin of Satan

Quotes beneath taken from The Origin of Satan by Elaine Pagels

These book passages, which are taken from Elaine Pagels introduction and conclusion, I found rather illuminating and opted to quote from — in bulk — in case others might too…


The moralizing universe in which we operate…

“The Jewish theologian Martin Buber regarded the moralizing of the universe as one of the great achievements of Jewish tradition, later passed down as its legacy to Christians and Muslims.  The book of Genesis, for example, insists that volcanoes would not have destroyed the towns of Sodom and Gomorrah unless all the inhabitants of those towns — all the inhabitants who concerned the storyteller, that is, the adult males — had been evil ‘young and old, down to the last man ‘ (Gen. 19:4).

When I began this work, I assumed that Jewish and Christian perceptions of invisible being had to do primarily with moralizing the natural universe, as Buber claimed, and so with encouraging people to interpret events from illness to natural disasters as expressions of “God’s will” or divine judgment on human sin.  But my research led me in an unexpected directions and disclosed a far more complex picture….

As I proceeded to investigate Jewish and Christian accounts of angels and fallen angels, I discovered, however, that they were less concerned with the natural world as a whole than with the particular world of human relationships.

Rereading biblical and extra-biblical accounts of angels, I learned first of all what many scholars have pointed out:  that while angels often appear in the Hebrew Bible, Satan, along with other fallen angels or demonic beings, is virtually absent.  But among certain first-century Jewish groups, prominently including the Essenes (who saw themselves as allied with angels) and the followers of Jesus, the figure variously called Satan, Beelzebub, or Belial also began to take on central importance.  While the gospel of Mark, for example, mentions angels only in the opening frame (1:13) and in the final verses of the original manuscript (16:5-7), Mark deviates from mainstream Jewish tradition by introducing ‘the devil’ into the crucial opening scene of the gospel and goes on to characterize Jesus’ ministry as involving continual struggle between God’s spirit and the demons, who belong, apparently, to Satan’s ‘kingdom’ (see Mark 3:23-27).  Such visions have been incorporated into Christian tradition and have served, among other things, to confirm for Christians their own identification with God and to demonize their opponents — first other Jews, then pagans, and later dissident Christians called heretics.  This is what this book is about.

To emphasize this element of the New Testament gospels does  not mean, of course, that this is their primary theme.  “Aren’t the gospels about love?” exclaimed one friend as we discussed this work.  Certainly they are about love, but since the story they have to tell involves betrayal and killing, they also include elements of hostility which evoke demonic images.  This book concentrates on this theme.

What fascinates us about Satan is the way he expresses qualities that go beyond what we ordinarily recognize as human.  Satan evokes more than the greed, envy, lust and anger we identify with our own worst impulses, and more than what we call brutality; which imputes to human beings a resemblance to animals (“brutes”).  Thousands of years of tradition have characterized Satan instead as a spirit.  Originally he was one of God’s angels, but a fallen one.  Now he stands in the open rebellion against God, and in his frustrated rage he mirrors aspects of our own confrontations with otherness.  Many people have claimed to see his embodied at certain times in individuals and groups that seem possessed by an intense spiritual passion, one that engages even our better qualities, like strength, intelligence, and devotion, but turns them toward destruction and takes pleasure in inflicting harm.  Evil, then, at its worst, seems to involve the supernatural that we recognize, with a shudder, as the diabolic inverse of Martin Buber’s characterization of God as ‘wholly other.’

…What interests me instead are specifically social implications of the figure of Satan:  how he is invoked to express human conflict and to characterize human enemies within our own religious traditions.  In this book, then, I invite you to consider Satan as a reflection of how we perceive ourselves and those we call ‘others.’  Satan has, after all, made a kind of profession out of being the ‘other’ and so Satan defines negatively what we think of as human.  The social and cultural practice of defining certain people as ‘others’ in relation to one’s own group may be, of course, as old a humanity itself.”

Introduction, xvi-xviii

Dehumanizing otherness is too often the (subconscious) rule, rather than the exception…

Elaine Pagels:  Yet this virtually universal practice of calling one’s own people human and ‘dehumanizing’ others, does not necessarily mean that people actually doubt or deny the humanness of others.  Much of the time, as William Green points out, those who so label themselves and others, are engaging in a kind of caricature that helps define and consolidate their own group identity:  “A society does not simply discover its others, it fabricates them, by selecting, isolating, and emphasizing an aspect of another people’s life, and making it symbolize their difference.*”

*William, Scott Green, “Otherness Within:  Towards a Theory of Difference in Rabbinic Judaism,” in Neusner and Frerichs, eds., To See Ourselves As Others See Us, 46-49.

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The (subconscious) water that we all swim in, however secular/atheistic/agnostic one may consider oneself to be…

“Many religious people who no longer believe in Satan, along with countless others who do not identify with any religious tradition nevertheless are influenced by this cultural legacy whenever they perceive social and political conflict in terms of the forces of good contending against the forces of evil in the world. Although Karl Marx’s extreme and resolutely materialist version of this apocalyptic vision is now nearly defunct, a secularizing version of it underlies many social and political movements in Western culture, both religious and antireligious.”  Pagels, p. 182

How NVC’s aspiration towards adopting a nonviolent state-of-mind (ahimsa/agape) is similar to that preached by Christianity, at its best:

“…This vision derives its power not only from the conviction that one stands on God’s side, but also from the belief that one’s opponents are doomed to fail.  The words Matthew places in Jesus’ mouth characterize his opponents as people accursed, who the divine judge has already consigned ‘into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.’

Yet among first-century Christian sources we also find profoundly different perceptions of opponents.  Although Matthew’s Jesus attacks the Pharisees and bitterly condemns them, and John at one point characterizes Jesus’ opponents as Satan’s progeny, the Q source that Matthew uses also suggests different ways of perceiving others, in sayings attributed to Jesus that urge reconciliation with one’s opponents:

If you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift (5:23-24).

Or Matthew 5:43-44:

You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.”  But I say to you, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your father in heaven.”

To pray for one’s enemies suggests that one believes that whatever harm they have done, they are capable of being reconciled to God and to oneself.  Paul, writing about twenty years before the evangelists, hold a still more traditionally Jewish perception that Satan acts as God’s agent not to corrupt people but to test them; at one point he suggests that a Christian group “deliver to Satan” one of its errant members, not in order to consign him to hell, but in the hopes that he will repent and change (1 Cor. 5-5).  Paul also hopes and longs for reconciliation between his “brothers, “fellow Israelites, and Gentile believers (Rom. 9:3-4).

Many Christians, then, from the first century through Francis of Assisi in the thirteenth century and Martin Luther King, Jr. in the twentieth, have believed that they stood on God’s side without demonizing their opponents.  Their religious vision inspired them to opposed policies and powers they regarded as evil, often risking their well-being and their lives, while praying of the reconciliation — not the damnation — of those who opposed them.

For the most part, however, Christians have taught — and acted upon — the belief that their enemies are evil and beyond redemption.  Concluding this book, I hope that this research may illuminate for others, as it has for me, the struggle within the Christian tradition between the profoundly human that “otherness” is evil and the words of Jesus that reconciliation is divine.”  Pagels, p. 183-184

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Trump and the Lord’s Work – The New York Times

San Fermin – No Devil

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Overcoming Enemy Images – Irmtraud, Hagit, Joshua, Amos, Jo

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Dalai Lama – The New York Times

The Dalai Lama spoke about the Atlas of Emotions study at the Wilson House on the Sisters of St. Francis’ Assisi Heights campus in Rochester, Minn.

Inner Peace? The Dalai Lama Made a Website for That

The Dalai Lama has commissioned an Atlas of Emotions to further a lofty mission: turning secular audiences into more self-aware, compassionate humans.

Daniel Siegel discusses Mindsight with the Dalai Lama Center

Siegel: Time In: Reflection, Relationships and Resilience at the Heart of Internal Education

Learning to Express Anger Fully

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Becoming a bit more ‘impeccable’ (without sin) with our words…

NVC: Dealing with Enemy Images

Downshifting the Beelzebub Personification Spectrum:

The Connection Continuum:
<<< You and me (always moving back and forth) >>>


rage, disconnection and violence                                    connection, compassion, peace

Some possible steps towards making shifts on our Beelzebub Personification Spectrum, (whether our enemy-imagery is directed at ourselves or others):

  1. Intention:  Become mindful of your anger-warning signals/dashboard (witness your greek chorus narration of events, a.k.a. watching the ‘jackal show’, especially any movement on the enemy-imagery continuum — a.k.a. the ‘beelzebub personification spectrum’);  see:  Reptilian Brain & Mindsight &  Linnaea Marvell’s  Dynamics of Self-Connection
  2. Observation:  Just the facts m’am —OFNR:  sticking to the ‘who, what, when and where’ of identifying, observationally-speaking, the stimulus for our current upset;
  3. Feelings:  Track the blame game by becoming increasingly Self-Responsible — noting how our interpretations blend in with how we feel and both are invariably rooted in what we are valuing (needs as causal, in NVC terms), and what we are ideally wanting (our preferred strategies) while scrupulously avoiding the habitual/culturally-inculcated propensity towards an entirely external attribution for our current agitation (as is the case of for others:  extrapolating how the acts of others are rooted in their own interpretations/feelings/needs as well);
  4. Needs:  Wanting Fully Without Attachment – Empowerment through more expansive brainstorming of the potential variety of alternate strategies that might be deployed towards attending to our own needs while simultaneously honoring the needs of others, whenever possible;
  5. Requests:  Practice with articulating clear action requests (both of ourselves and others).  See:  Requests-4-Connection & Dwelling in Request Consciousness

The Difference Between Cause and Stimulus

Taking responsibility for our feeling

Guided Meditiation with Dan Siegel (Wheel of Awareness)

He drew a circle that shut me out –
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But Love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle that took him in!

“Outwitted” by Edwin Markham

Mix – Tom Lehrer – National Brotherhood Week

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One approach to transforming enemy images that are especially challenging — as with a political figure with whom you have a great degree of wariness — is to approach it as one might a loving-kindness meditation, for example:  by choosing someone that you are more motivated to soften towards (for example, a friend or family member who holds differing political views than your own):

Overview of Loving-kindness Meditation

How to do it . . .

The practice always begins with developing a loving acceptance of yourself. If resistance is experienced then it indicates that feelings of unworthiness are present. No matter, this means there is work to be done, as the practice itself is designed to overcome any feelings of self-doubt or negativity. Then you are ready to systematically develop loving-kindness towards others.

Four Types of Persons to develop loving-kindness towards:

• a respected, beloved person – such as a spiritual teacher;
• a dearly beloved – which could be a close family member or friend;
• a neutral person – somebody you know, but have no special feelings towards, e.g.: a person who serves you in a shop;
• a hostile person – someone you are currently having difficulty with.

Dan Siegel: The Neurological Basis of Behavior, the Mind, the Brain and Human

Via the Garrison Institute‘s 2011 Climate, Mind and Behavior Symposium: Dr. Dan Siegel of the Mindsight Institute discusses the neurological basis of behavior, the mind, the brain and human relationships. He explains one definition of the mind as “an embodied and relational emergent process that regulates the flow of energy and information,” and describes the role of awareness and attention in monitoring and modifying the mind. Dr. Siegel puts forth a method of expanding the sense of identity so as to include other people, species and the planet and proposes the concept of “we maps.” He recommends using the notion of health as a means of linking individual, community and planetary wellbeing. To learn more about the Garrison Institute’s Climate, Mind & Behavior Initiative:  Visit its website: https://www.garrisoninstitute.org/cli… & Twitter: https://twitter.com/climatemind


Fossil Fuel Billionaires Kill Children

Rather than personifying evil (as in our enemy imagery towards a discrete person/individual), it might be worthwhile to take a more panoramic view…

Leave Fossil Fuels in the Ground

John Oliver exposes how the media turns scientific studies into “morning show gossip”

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See also:


NVC Certified Trainer Miki Kashtan’s take on the Trump phenomena…

Blog | The Fearless Heart | Inspiration and tools for creating the future we want.  Courage to live it now.

What Will We Do if Trump Is the Next President?

By Miki Kashtan

What Will We Do if Trump Is the Next President?

Dorothy Thompson in 1920

In late 1931, Dorothy Thompson, then one of the US’s most respected foreign correspondents, interviewed Adolf Hitler. She spoke of “the startling insignificance of this man.” Although she could foresee the possibility that he would create a coalition government with centrist politicians, she nonetheless said: “it is highly improbable that in this case he will succeed in putting through any of his more radical plans.” Within a year of the article’s publication, he began doing exactly that. In 1934, after writing many articles against Hitler and exposing the reign of terror he instituted, she was the first foreign correspondent to be expelled from Nazi Germany. [Source] …  (Continues)


To discuss this and other of Miki’s blog posts (with both she and other readers of her blog), check in to her free Fearless Heart Teleseminars.
Next dates:

Sunday May 8, 10:30-noon
Monday May 9, 5:30-7pm

And last but not least:

Jon Stewart is back with some strong words for Donald Trump

Posted in Arts & Literature, Enemy Imagery, Giraffe Consciousness, IPNB, NVC & Other Modalities, Self-Responsibility, What's Up Next? | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

4/3/16 ~ Conversational Flow (On Being Cheeky)

What’s Up Next?

Sunday, April 3, 2016 ~ Conversational Flow (On Being Cheeky)

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Inquiry:  How do you gauge your level of cheekiness (a.k.a. receptivity versus nonviolent resistance), conversationally-speaking?

Hart’s Communication-Flow-Chart

ZENVC’s Communication Flow Chart

First, a confession…

Sometimes I use this blog as a convenient log for recording lessons worthy of remembering and further practice (especially given that my mind too oft seems like a sieve).  One such example occurred during a recent teleclass with Jim Manske (see:  Taste of Compassionate Leadership Free Teleclass – NVC Academy).  In it, he spoke of how to be non-defensive in our communication with others by listening and then first replying with the phrase, “So, for you ____ is important.”  He cited an example of someone recently approaching him with a sense of having woken up irritated with something he had said and wanting to talk about it more with him.  By beginning with the word ‘so’ and then a comma, he suggested that we slow down and remind ourselves of an intention to lean in a bit towards the other (and their stated dilemma) than we otherwise, more reactively, might have.  Then by prefacing ‘with you’ next, we can wholly focus on what matters to the other, rather than how we ourselves might again be reacting to (internally).  He also suggested that instead of a perfunctory plunking in a garden-variety ‘need’ word, we could experiment with a variety of other kinds of empathic guesses/reflections — such as observations, feelings, wishes, and so forth (as detailed with his ‘three layers of empathy’).  The context in which he placed this skill, was that of John Gottman’s notion of ‘softened start-ups’ where we approach others in ways that may be more conducive to collaboration and dialogic flow.

Template for Softened Start-Ups:

Practice:  “So, for you, ______* is important…”

*insert a reflection/empathic-guess here — see:  Three Layers of Empathy

One tweak that I might offer, along street giraffe lines, is that instead of routinely stating the phrase — ‘So, for you, ____ is important’ — one might instead contemplate it silently (somewhat akin to the NVC concept of ‘silent empathy’ — by internally guessing feelings and needs prior to opening one’s mouth).  Thus this phrase offers a kind of contemplative template encouraging greater receptivity within and priming the vocal chords pump for how one might then opt to externalize or word our reply more creatively/improvisationally).

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Note the ‘deeper layers’ (of values/needs) that conflict unearths:

John Gottman: What We Really Fight Over

Weekend Homework Assignment: Softening Startup – The Gottman Institute

By: Ellie Lisitsa

Excerpt:  “…As Dr. Gottman’s research has revealed, discussions invariably end on the same note they begin. If you start an argument harshly by attacking your partner, you will end up with at least as much tension as you began with, if not more. Softening Startup of your conversations is crucial to resolving relationship conflicts. If your arguments start softly, your relationship is far more likely to be stable and happy. Here are proven skills Dr. Gottman suggests for softening your startups when bringing up an issue of disagreement with your partner… (continues here:  Softening Startup)

Practice Softened Start-Ups – YouTube

See also:

Diffusing Difficult Conversations with Love | Dr. Julie Gottman

Gottman Method Couples Therapy: The Softened Start-up Technique – YouTube

The notion of a ‘softened (rather than hard/harsher) start-up’ brought to mind this passage from the Tao Te Ching:

Tao Te Ching 8: Be like water



The supreme goodness is like water,

nourishing all of creation

without trying to compete with it.

It gathers in the low places unpopular with men.

Therefore it is like the Tao.


In dwelling, live close to the ground.

In dealing with others, be gentle and kind.

In speaking, stand by your word.

In governing, lead with integrity.

In making a move, choose the right moment.


One who lives in accordance with nature

does not go against the way of things.

He moves in harmony with the present moment,

always knowing the truth of what must be done.


“Lao Tzu likens the Tao to water. The paradox of water is that although it is the softest of substances, it’s also one of the most powerful. Whilst yielding, it is also powerful enough to cut through rock and shape canyons and mountains. This is to say nothing of its essential life-giving properties. All forms of life are completely dependent upon it; without water, there would be no life upon this planet…” ~ Blogger Rory’s commentary continues here:  Beyond The Dream

By being receptive to another, we are embodying the reflective, mirroring qualities of water thereby fulfilling the two criteria that Carl Rogers highlighted as crucial to any truly empathic gambit:  1) empowering what is alive in another (rather than in ourselves) and 2) coming from unconditional, positive regard.  By saying, or thinking, ‘so, for you…’ — we discipline our focus to be on that which is ‘alive’ in the other and then by also emphasizing what they see as ‘important’, our attention is on what they may valuing in the moment (cultivating greater spaciousness/openness and, hopefully, less myopia/self-centeredness).

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This effort towards an unguarded (non-defended/non-defensive) stance evokes the consciousness of nonviolence, as epitomized in leaders such as Gandhi/MLK.

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Philip Yancey on what living out the instructions of Jesus from the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7):

“The movie Gandhi contains a fine scene in which Gandhi tries to explain his philosophy to the Presbyterian missionary Charlie Andrews. Walking together in a South African city, the two suddenly find their way blocked by young thugs. The Reverend Andrews takes one look at the menacing gangsters and decides to run for it. Gandhi stops him. “Doesn’t the New Testament say if an enemy strikes you on the right cheek you should offer him the left?” Andrews mumbles that he thought the phrase was used metaphorically. “I’m not so sure,” Gandhi replies. “I suspect he meant you must show courage—be willing to take a blow, several blows, to show you will not strike back nor will you be turned aside. And when you do that it calls on something in human nature, something that makes his hatred decrease and his respect increase. I think Christ grasped that and I have seen it work.”

Gandhi’s Philosophy – YouTube

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For more, see post on the Seeds & Roots of NVC

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Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in his own words:

“Gandhi was probably the first person in history to lift the love ethic of Jesus above mere interaction between individuals to a powerful and effective social force on a large scale. The intellectual and moral satisfaction that I failed to gain from the utilitarianism of Bentham and Mill, the revolutionary methods of Marx and Lenin, the social contract theory of Hobbes, the ‘back to nature’ optimism of Rousseau, and the superman philosophy of Nietzsche, I found in the non-violent resistance philosophy of Gandhi.” ~ MLK, “My Pilgrimage to Nonviolence”


Tribute to Mahatma Gandhi by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the Tenth Anniversary of the Anniversary of the Assasination of Mahatma Gandhi:

“Mahatma Gandhi has done more than any other person of history to reveal that social problems can be solved without resorting to primitive methods of vio­lence. In this sense he is more than a saint of India. He belongs – as they said of Abraham Lincoln – to the ages. In our struggle against racial segregation in Mont­gomery, Alabama, I came to see at a very early stage that a synthesis of Gandhi’s method of non-violence and the Christian ethic of love is the best weapon avail­able to Negroes for this struggle for freedom and human dignity. It may well be that the Gandhian approach will bring about a solution to the race problem in America. His spirit is a continual reminder to oppressed people that it is possible to resist evil and yet not resort to violence.  The Gandhian influence in some way still speaks to the conscience of the world as nations grapple with international problems. If we fail, on an international scale, to follow the Gandhian principle of non-violence, we may end up by destroying ourselves through the misuse of our own instruments. The choice is no longer be­tween violence and non-violence. It is now either non-violence or non-existence.  Oppressed people can deal with oppression in three ways. They can accept or acquiesce. Under segregation they can adjust to it. Yet non-co-operation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is co-operation with good. The minute one ac­cepts segregation, one co-operates with it. Oppressed people can, on the other hand, resort to physical violence, a method both whole nations and oppressed peoples have used. But violence merely brings about a temporary victory and not permanent peace. It creates ever new problems. Gandhi has come on the scene of history with still another way. He would resist evil as much as the man who uses violence, but he resists it without external violence or violence of the spirit. That is what Gandhism does. It is a method of the strong. If the only alternative is be­tween cowardice and violence, it is better – as Gandhi said – to use violence, but there is another way.  I myself gained this insight from Gandhi. When I was in theological school, I thought the only way we could solve our problem of segregation was an armed re­volt. I felt that the Christian ethic of love was confined to individual relationships. I could not see how it could work in social conflict. Then I read Gandhi’s ethic of love as revealed in Jesus but raised to a social strategy for social transformation. This lifts love from individual relationships to the place of social transformation. This Gandhi helped us to understand and for this we are grateful a decade after his death.”

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Lastly, why mention ‘cheekiness’ as a kind of barometer, or continuum, for our conversational conduct?  Along with the spiritual roots that inspired a nonviolent ethos is also the sense that nonviolence isn’t about passivity any more than it is about aggressivity.  It’s a kind of counterintuitive [Taoist watercourse way] assertiveness that has to be calibrated in accordance with circumstances as they present themselves (see two ‘cheeky’ examples by noted religious figures in the clip beneath).


  1. impudent or irreverent, typically in an endearing or amusing way.
    “a cheeky grin”

Fr Bob on Turning the Other Cheek – YouTube

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Water is a force-to-be-reckoned with — just ask the rocks of the Grand Canyon — so whether one opts towards the more genteel or turns the faucet on full blast is always a calibrated judgment call…

It is better to be violent, if there is violence in our hearts, than to put on the cloak of nonviolence to cover impotence. ~ Mahatma Gandhi

See also:   October 7, 2012 ~ Ahimsa?

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Gandhi has said that he preferred to teach a violent man nonviolence than a cowardly one, as such (nonviolent) resistance entailed both the capacity for courage (the ability to bravely strike out instead of cower) coupled with a discernment as to when and how to refrain from this option.  This is reminiscent of Taoist sayings about ‘knowing how to yield’ — see:  Tao Quotes about yielding — which in the context of NVC could be analogous to another distinction, that of ‘thresholds’.   Knowing one’s given threshold, in any particular circumstance, means knowing how much one can bend — how flexible one can be — until there is a breaking point.  With more grave matters, the threshold would be higher (less willingness or flexibility in accommodating another).

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