Nonviolent communication

Nonviolent communication

Have recently been listening to 4 CDs in Marshall Rosenberg’s Nonviolent Communication series. The most wonderful thing I found in this NVC series: it’s both a new way of thinking about relating and communicating, and a new language to do it with.

I think most of us grow up with terribly distorted and dysfunctional communication at home and school tends not to teach us much better either. In the former we often encounter violence, passive aggressive behaviour, manipulation and neglect that come across as blaming, screaming, withholding and other emotionally violent ways of being with each other. The latter, the school system, tends to instruct us by enumerating what we have to do, inscribing ways we have to behave and generally dictating how we have to be. Most of this tend not to bet in touch with our needs and are mostly non-consensual, in other words emotionally violent to some degree. No wonder we grow up and end up in relationships with thoroughly dysfunctional communication in which we don’t know how to meet each other’s needs, listen and be heard.

NVC has been used in relationship counselling, life coaching, in organisations and in the political sphere between warring sides in order to achieve a productive dialogue. The most beautiful aspect of it for me is how it helps us get in touch with our feelings, with ‘what is alive in us’ as opposed to the intellectualisation and rationalisation processes that are the publicly accepted hallmarks of someone intelligent and competent… when in fact heaping a lot of intellectual process on top of our feelings often ends up blocking the process of communication, blocking what is actually going on and what is deeply important for us.

I highly recommend the NVC CDs and hope to learn how to transform my own communication in my everyday life. It would be so much better to communicate my actual needs, disarm other people’s anger by being compassionate and helpful, stay vulnerable in the face of a perceived attack and transform my own thinking about how to achieve better outcomes and be in harmony with myself and with others around me.

A really good tool is expressing our own feelings instead of talking for the other person. Unfortunately the English language and our upbringing conspire against us and often when we think we are expressing a feeling we are actually interpreting or making a judgement on someone else:

– I feel you have been unfair towards me…. is not a feeling, it’s a thought and assessment
– I feel I cannot continue on with you being so aggressive – is another assessment and an angry statement about the other person being aggressive

What Instead?
– I feel sad and upset because I feel my need for emotional support has not been met lately in our relationship, especially when there’s so much fighting
– I feel scared when I hear you raising your voice, I can hear you are upset but I wonder if there’s another way for you to express your feelings
These expressions that focus on your own feelings express vulnerability and openness and avoid being judgemental or shirking responsibility for your own feelings.

Here’s a really funny roleplay by two NVC practitioners. It looks really silly at first but then through role play you can see how anger, resentment and conflict can be transformed into understanding and calmer cooperation… quite magical if you manage to do it in your own life!

MJ

MJ

I know this counts as tabloid fodder, yet like lots of other people I mourn the passing of a pop icon too. MJ’s best years coincided with my childhood and I made my first choreography to Billie Jean hoping to impress the girl I had a crush on. Later I was doing choreographies to other MJ songs for school productions and for a while was dressing like him hahaha.. I know it’s kinda sad and really dates me too 😛

Maybe pop icons meant to die before getting old, can’t help thinking the stresses on the singer must have been enormous.. I know it really does question celebrity culture, something I pretty much ignore the rest of the time as much as possible. Can’t help being astonished how someone’s life is taking apart upon their death and often in a nasty way too… why can’t we just remember the brilliance and celebrate the awesome bits?

My favourite was always Billie Jean.. wonder what your favourite song was? 🙂

This is a lesser known song re-interpreted by a fan very beautifully.

Life

Life

Finally my life is starting to come back together… 🙂

Jobs are finally coming to me: I’ve got two teaching jobs coming up, one at UNSW and one at Notre Dame, still not sure about Macquarie, might not need it. I’m also in the process of becoming a freelance academic editor, might be a good way to work from home to fill the gaps. Also have a little bit of research work to finish off at UNSW and a conference on creativity at the Goethe Institute in late July, so there’s an easy bridge between jobs.

Been going out with friends lots and that’s been great. Last week I helped Craig pack and unpack as he moved to a new place in Bondi. I also went to the Art Gallery to see Intensely Dutch with Chryl, played bridge with friends, went to Dolma’s end of degree party and Kate’s b’day drinks, then finished off the week with a hangi at Les and Synecdoche New York and dinner with Damon in Newtown. Good week!

My parents have arrived back from overseas and so now I’m swimming in a sea of Hungarian books, magazines and music!

This week I’m going for massage and dental stuff, going to the poly discussion group, lunch with Craig and another film with someone new on Friday. I also have to get onto more writing and chores and a bit of work. From next week there’ll be nights of Rome at Cat’s place, should be lots of fun too.

Today I had a photoshoot for Sunday Life magazine which is soon publishing an article on polyamory, including an interview with me. I’m really excited now that this is going ahead and I’ll be in it, YAY!! Poly activism and also fun at the same time.

As you can see I’m back in the swing of things.. still struggling with a chest infection but slowly getting over it.. still grieving but also moving on with my life… Niko in transition.

Pics: red lentil and veg soup with Maroccan spices, Intensely Dutch exhibition at the Art Gallery of NSW, and me with my mum and Muffin last night.

Andrew

Andrew

Received this card from Kerrie yesterday, it is such a wonderful memento of a truly special man (thanks Kristina for the design!)… was crying and smiling at the same time.

Presence, intense awareness, subtlety, depth, timing, joy, love… you have taught me so much in such a short time. Your truth, passion and courage will guide me in my journeys.

We’ll carry on your work and will make you proud… we all know you are watching from the shadows, we’d better put on a good show for you. Andrew, we so will!!!

I mean, look at this… you are right above all those plaster vaginas 😀 Don’t you just love it?

The ‘perfect vagina’

The ‘perfect vagina’

Last week SBS showed this documentary about women’s quest for a ‘perfect vagina’ through plastic surgery. Why do women have their inner labia chopped off, why do women think their bits are abnormal or shameful, and how our culture fosters certain ideas about how female genitals should look like. Also, what can we do to reconcile ourselves with our bits?

In the process the film maker talks to men and women, younger women who are about to go under the knife and older women who were brought up to never ever mention the fact that they had vaginas. We meet plastic surgeons and the film maker goes on her own journey of self discovery, getting her bits cast in plaster for a huge artwork of a variety of vaginas, getting her bits looked at by a plastic surgeon, going to a women’s healing group and considering what sort of sex education and socialisation women should have in order to end up with a healthy body image and complete acceptance of their bits.

It seems that peer pressure, selective display of neat and small vaginas by the porn industry, to some degree waxing (which makes lips more visible), sometimes rude comments by inconsiderate men and cultural preoccupations with conformity underlie this trend towards vaginal plastic surgery. Has women’s liberation achieved anything – the legitimate question comes from the film maker herself. I guess we wouldn’t need films like this if it really has achieved everything, yet there is an undeniable truth to self determination too and that may just have to involve plastic surgery too.

The film strongly suggests, and I completely agree with this, that going for the surgeon’s ‘quick fix’ is definitely the wrong way of going about dealing with our own genitals. Women’s vaginas vary enormously and the images of tiny trimmed bits that porn often shows does a great disservice to our own self image. Many women with larger inner lips have no idea that their ‘size’ is perfectly normal and their bits are completely fine as they are. But it’s not between your legs, rather it’s between our ears really, and change in attitude requires work.

Even hymenoplasty gets a look in. It is practiced among Muslim girls in Western countries in order to conform to the pretty brutal expectations and double standards of their cultural background.. they are expected to be virgins and to bleed on their wedding night. Of course men have to perform no such feat. At this point the film veers to a more difficult cross-cultural territory. Even though to any liberal Western eyes the surgery is barbaric and sexist and appalling, for some Muslim women it is a question of life or death. Very interesting segment to watch and discuss!!

Funnily the artist who cast 400 vaginas ended up ‘re-uniting’ women with their own vaginas when they discovered that theirs were completely normal… just looking at the casts of many vaginas can show you the wonderful variation and diversity that your vagina fits in! Wish the young Muslim women could be liberated and get to this point. We even get to see a therapist in this doco who gets women together and gets them to show their bits to each other and laugh off their initial embarrassment that in the end gives way to acceptance and healing. They even get to talk to their vaginas (haven’t you done that? 🙂 ) Good work!

On a final note, being a woman who has sex with other women, I have to say I have an immense appreciation of the diversity of pussies and also have a keen awareness that most of us have some hangups to deal with. Whenever I’m with a woman who doesn’t fully appreciate what they’ve got I do a little healing thing myself… I tell them how amazing and beautiful their bits look and show them my appreciation!!

You can go to SBS to watch the whole film (for the time being) click on the video on the right:
SBS TV
You can see a section from the film here.
And here’s a wonderful site for the adoration of large labia!! Seriously check this out!!! 🙂