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  • Writer's pictureLisa Gottlieb

May Peace Prevail

May Peace Prevail | Lisa Gottlieb

It's often challenging for me to remain positive and hopeful in our current climate of gun violence, rape culture, political hostility and environmental disasters. At times I can be overwhelmed, and have no idea how to show up in ways that improve our local community, as well as our global community.

How can each of us, in our own way, individually, with our families and friends, with our communities, and across the planet work towards a world where everyone's needs matter, and the resources we have can be shared by all?

I have found that by learning about and embracing Nonviolent Communication, I am able to take measurable steps, on a daily basis, to bring peace, connection, collaboration and hope back into my life, so that I have the energy and motivation to stay engaged and active in building the world I want to live in.

Take a moment and ask yourself, "I want to live in a world where_____________", and then fill in the blank with what is most meaningful and alive for you.

What comes up in your answer? Perhaps you want to live in a world where there is care and action towards the health of our planet. Perhaps you want to live in a world where the work you do is meaningful and meets your values. Maybe you want to live in a world where there is enough to go around, where children who are hungry have enough to eat, where those who are vulnerable are safe, and those who are fearful have ease and peace.

My belief is that by starting with myself, by seeing my own vulnerability, my own fears, my own pain, and offering myself empathy and acceptance, I am on the path of finding my way forward to discover how to connect with my basic human needs, and thus connect with the basic human needs of all others with whom I share this planet. When I connect with everyone else on the level of human needs, there are no "others"-- we are all part of the same humanity. When I open to the humanity in another person, even if I disagree with their opinions, views and actions, I am beginning to bridge the gap between conflict and disagreement, and move towards where our essential human connection, through our shared needs, meets.

Marshall Rosenberg, the creator of Nonviolent Communication said, “Every criticism, judgment, diagnosis, and expression of anger is the tragic expression of an unmet need.” In practice, I interpret this to mean that when I look at what someone else does or does not do as the reason I am reactive, angry, frustrated on filled with dismay, and I then blame them and believe they deserve to be punished, I give away my own power to discover what needs of mine aren't being met by the other person's actions, and take my focus away from my own ability to make choices and care for myself, and offer care to others who may have also been impacted. This does not mean I give up an expectation of responsibility or accountability if this person has harmed another, it simply means that I turn my focus away from blame, and bring the focus back to what I can control about the situation-- my own feelings, and the needs associated with my feelings, and conscious decisions about what I want to do next. This is one of the essential foundations of NVC-- keeping my attention on what I decide to do with my own reactivity, my own feelings and needs to create plans and strategies to honor what is of value and meaningful to me.

This process is a beginning step of utilizing the consciousness of Nonviolent Communication; the first step toward peace prevailing.

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