I have been exploring three books simultaneously: The Call by Oriah Mountain Dreamer, Women, Food and God by Geneen Roth, and The Gene Keys by Richard Rudd. For several years I’ve been working with Marshall Rosenberg’s teachings of Nonviolent Communication (NVC) – that we all have universal needs and that all behavior (yep, even the nasty behavior) is an attempt to get these universal needs met. And as you all know from my previous post, I’ve been attending a lot of yoga classes. So, what’s the pattern here?
All of these teachings focus on the simple (but not easy!) practice of being in the present moment, noticing what’s going on in the mind (thoughts & attachments), and letting go of the behaviors or thoughts that interfere with being in the moment. They also focus on being present to (allowing) the emotions that are arising in each moment and letting them have their full expression as a means to stop the compulsive behavior.
Each of them has a different entry point: Oriah’s is facing compulsive doing, Geneen’s is facing compulsive easting, Richard’s is facing our habitual patterns to avoid our shadow, yoga philosophy’s is facing our attachment to outcomes. What Marshall brings to the mix is what needs are being met (or not met) by choosing (yes, on some level I believe they are all a choice!) those particular behaviors.
I notice when I feel my feelings and then identify the needs that are being met, or not met, by my behavior, I am free to make other choices to meet those needs. There’s an element of self-acceptance that emerges because I have the power to choose a life-serving way of being. I use these simple but not easy concepts and practices when working with coaching clients and they (and I) clearly receive the benefits.
However, I am beginning to notice a pattern emerging in my experiences that goes beyond these concepts and practices: when a client has a strong feeling related to a behavior that is blocking their movement forward, I ask “When was the first time you remember having a similar feeling experience?” In almost all cases, they immediately flash upon a childhood experience.
As we explore the childhood experience in detail, I guide the client to be with the part of them that had (is having!) the experience. We listen to the feelings (the client often re-experiences them) and explore what that part believes about themselves. I then ask the client “Ask what that part needs from you right now – or needed at that time.” Or if they are fluent in NVC I may ask “What needs were not met for you at the time?” Then, we take the time to connect with that part, affirm they are welcome in the client’s world, and to meet those needs and requests.
After a bit of integration time, we move back to the situation that stimulated the client’s feelings in the first place and PRESTO! the client knows exactly how to move forward aligned with their needs and ALL their parts. They also experience more self-acceptance and self-compassion. How is this possible?
I believe that through this process they identified and explored a belief/behavior combination that was no longer life-serving (but was at one time!), released their attachment to it, and planted the seed of a new belief/behavior that IS life-serving. As they integrate the new belief/behavior over time they have more freedom and willingness to embrace and express ALL of themselves –leading a more authentic, choiceful life.
p.s Sounds a bit like voice dialog, eh? To me, too. But something feels different when it’s happening that’s different than my experiences of voice dialog. Stay tuned as I explore this further in another post…