AM I ASKING OR DEMANDING?
In a four step process, we firstly express what we see, what we feel and what we need, and then we precisely describe what we would like in this moment.
For example, my partner has split milk on the floor in my kitchen. I said to him: ” There’s milk on the floor. I’m angry. I like to keep my kitchen tidy. Please could you clean the floor now?”
What is the solution? What could I do now or what action could I request my friend to do to feel better? I could also ask for them to listen to me, to think it over or to give me an answer.
In these questions an all „new” approach to the subject is revealed. I don’t say to a person I am having a conversation with what he or she should look like, or what he or she should feel or think („you could do more”). I don’t blame him „you always spill milk like this”, „you did it purposefully”. I don’t set up a special commission to find and punish the guilty person:). Instead I suggest an action that fulfils my needs now.
I don’t waste my life force by fussing about the levels of abnormality in the situation; wasting it by comparing and judging. The energy of action has a different quality than the energy of judgment. If I suggest a solution, I then take responsibility for my own life and choices. A creator feels different in life than a victim.
We avoid requesting from different reasons. It could happen because of our habit of trying to do everything by ourselves: „I will not ask for help as I can do it”. Sometimes, we are afraid of rejection and criticism or sometimes we simply don’t know what we want in this moment. If we don’t make requests the answer will always be „no”. If we are in touch with ourselves, if we know what will uplift the quality of our life, then to reveal our expectations seems natural to us. The contact with others is a mutual exchange.
We often express wishes but not requests. An example could be that a women said to her husband: ” Please could you come back home earlier?” It is a wish that can be understood in different way. Her husband can home back earlier but he can also go on the internet or go jogging. However, the point is that she wanted to be in contact with him. A request would be:” Please could we spend time together for an whole evening at least once a week? What do you think about this idea?”
When I make a request, I am conscious that the other person can refuse me. I am ready to hear „no” for various reasons. This is the difference between a request and a demand. The other person can refuse me without being afraid of punishment. Who likes demands? We like giving from our heart, with good will. We are ready to undertake other people’s requests because in doing so our own needs, such as contact, understanding and sharing, are fulfilled.
“The hearing that is only in the ears is one thing. The hearing of the understanding is another. But the hearing of the spirit is not limited to any one faculty, to the ear, or to the mind. Hence it demands the emptiness of all the faculties. And when the faculties are empty, then the whole being listens. There is then a direct grasp of what is right there before you that can never be heard with the ear or understood with the mind.“ Chuang -Tzu
Emphatic listening happens when we listen to others with full attention. We don’t prepare in our thoughts our answer or a question. We don’t even recall similar discussions or topics. We listen with the intention to understand and connect with the other person. We don’t judge and criticise a person or person’ view, even in our thoughts (e.g. it’s weird/ridiculous/incomprehensible). We don’t hurry. We don’t interrupt the speaker. We don’t share our experiences, wisdom and solutions. We don’t console, e.g. “smile, tomorrow will be another day”.
How can we listen to someone when we are occupied by thinking? We need to switch off our thinking processes of analysing, planning, sorting out, and advising. If we close them – as we do with computer programmes that we aren’t using at the moment, we enter in the space of here and now.
Eckhart Tolle¹ wrote about listening to another person with our whole body, not only with our mind. When we listen, we can feel the energy of our body and take our attention away from thinking and put it towards our body. This creates a still space that enables us to truly listen. We give the person we are listening to space – the space to be. It is the most precious gift we can give. Let’s remember what really matters- the being of other person.
When a person feels listened to, he feels seen as well, and this is a feeling of a live connection with another person. A heard person gains experience of being perceived, accepted and valued. A conscious presence of another human being helps us to find our inner harmony and the answers we are looking for. By consciously listening, our connection with other people becomes deeper. Let’s practice the art of listening as often as possible:)
¹ Eckhart Tolle „The Power of Now”, Hodder&Stoughton 2011
TWO AND A HALF WEEKS IN NEW ZEALAND
I knew long ago that I would one day see New Zealand. We left London in the middle of March to arrive in an autumn. To visit NZ it is necessary to hire a car, as public transport is only really useable in the big cities.We had sunny weather that allowed us to get about the islands of the country by car (the temperature was about 22-24 degrees).
Nature entails the energy of beauty, pristine, freshness; New Zealand’s land is extremely picturesque and varied: golden beaches, green hills, snow-covered mountain tops, blue lakes at the feet of mountains, volcanic plateaus and plains. It was like a combination of Norwegian fjords, Polish sheep, the rocky Gran Canaries’ coast and hills, US space and the exuberant vegetation of Asia. The highest peak is Mount Cook, at an altitude of 3674, named after the famous explorer.
The first known inhabitants of New Zealand were the Maori people. They arrived sometime between 700 to 1000 years ago. The Maori call the islands Aoteroa – “The land of a long white cloud”. A Dutch seafarer, Abel Tasman discovered the island for Europe in XVII century. The name New Zealand is derived from the name of a Dutch province called Zeeland. In 1769 the islands were rediscovered by James Cook, a British explorer. This started the European colonisation of the islands.
According to research by The World Economic Forum, the most friendly countries for tourists from among 140 countries are Iceland, New Zealand and Morocco¹. The countries were rated by the extent the country and society is open for the tourists and foreign visitors. I can confirm this: I received a warm reception from New Zealanders, also called Kiwis. The people we met were kind, relaxed and with a sense of humour. And they were without a British accent:)
The local inhabitants, acquaintances we meet, the strangers at a street, the people working in tourist information centres, motels, restaurants or museums. – they all welcomed us by saying „hi”- It really made for an atmosphere of ease and freedom.
Sports clubs in NZ are very busy, especially cricket, rugby, golf and basketball . The young people were playing cricket on grass in parks while we were there. Social conversations always seemed to touch on a sporting topic, at least for a moment. I had a feeling that sport were treated like a religion. The basic question was: ” What sport do you play?”. My answer of yoga made faces smile; showing no understanding of cricket rules (my partner says they are Laws!) caused a bit of consternation.
NZ is home for 4.5 million people and 31 million sheep – not as many sheep as there used to be but sheep are still everywhere, grazing on any eatable grass, even in the middle of Auckland.
Craters, boiling mud, boiling springs, a green lake
To see that mud could boil was a surprise and an extremely exciting experience. I asked myself: „Where am I, is this still the Earth?”
The journey at the end of world?:)
The flight to New Zealand was my longest. It took more than 24 hours of sitting during three flights, plus the transfer times of two hours at both Dubai and Sydney (A. was amazed that I could keep still that long). I felt the time difference from home for few days – it differs from European time for a full 12 hours.
But it was worth. It was wonderful time. I brought away with me a memory full of the beauty of nature, feelings. Whenever I think about New Zealand, I smile and feel the warmth, peace and the vastness of blue space.
¹ The Saturday Age Newspaper for April 6, 2013
More pictures here
„Your life is important. Honor it. Fight for your highest possibilities”.
Self-respect entails the expectation of friendship, love and happiness as a result who we are and what we do. Self-respect means that we feel that joy and self-fulfillment are our natural birthright.
Self-respect is the conviction of our own value. We don’t think that we are perfect or superior to other people. We believe that our life and well-being areworth supporting, protecting and nurturing. It is the conviction that we aregood, worthwhile and deserving of the respect of others; that our personal fulfillment and happiness are important enough to work for.
To be right as a person means that we are fit for happiness and success. The need of self-respect is connected with the questions „What kind of human being I would like to become?” and “What values do I follow?” If we don’t live our life according to our values, self-respect suffers.
Self-respect means assurance of one’s value: we aren’t afraid of asserting our thoughts, wants and needs. If we don’t express ourselves, if we don’t say „no” when we don’t want something, we hurt the feelings of ourselves. To live to our highest possibilities, we need to trust ourselves and value our actions.
We raise the level of our self-respect by acting in ways that will cause it to be raised. The easiest way is to begin with the value of our own person, this value manifesting in our behavior; standing up for our own right to exist – the right to belong to ourselves, in spite of our fears.
Based on the book written by Nathaniel Branden „Six Pillars of Self-Esteem”.
LANGUAGE AND VIOLENCE
O.J. Harvey, a psychology professor from the USA, researched the link between the use of language and violence. He took random samples of literature from many countries around the world and tabulated the frequency of the use of words that judge people. His study showed a high correlation between the frequency of use of such words and the frequency of use of violence in the society that the literature came from. There was considerably less violence in cultures where people think in terms of human needs than in cultures where people label one another as „good” or „bad” and believe that the „bad” ones deserve to be punished.
At the root of much violence – whether verbal, psychological or physical, or whether among family members, tribes or nations – is a kind of thinking that attributes the cause of conflict to wrongness in one’s adversaries and the corresponding inability to think of one self’s or other’s feelings, fearings, yearnings or losses¹.
List the judgments that arise most frequently into your thoughts from the sentence„I don’t like people who are…..” Collect all the negative judgments listed and then ask yourself „When I make these judgements of a person, what do I need but not getting?” In this way, we train ourselves to frame our thinking in terms of unfulfilled needs rather than in terms of judgments of other people. For example: „I don’t like people who are arrogant”. My unmet needs could be respect and a need for connection with the person. Remember, it requires time and conscious effort to change the habits of thinking.
¹ Based on the book by Marshall B. Rosenberg „Nonviolent Communication: A language of life”, PuddleDancer Press, 2003
I HAVE STOPPED COMPLAINING
It seems to me that complaining and grumbling are habits; sometimes this is fairly noticeable. I could add, at times carefullypracticed as a family tradition or a cultural heritage.
Yes, I complain as well. Maybe it is becoming more seldom and less strong. However, thoughts that are wraped in the energy of complaining still come into my mind. This creates a package with a negative, emotional charge – the emotion of not wanting, rejecting, anger, frustration, irritation and boredom. And what good can these emotions bring us?:)
I remember the day when I really caught that this is my inner ATTITUDE and my choice. I went for a yoga session. How happy I was at the beginning – the great people, program and at a exclusive but very cheap hotel (sometimes such paradoxes like cost/quality enter into our lives:) So what? On the second day I was standing in front of a lift door filled with irritation and thinking: „How much longer do I have to wait for the lift?”
When we stop complaining, we definitely have more time and mental space for other more creative activities:) We can keep asking why something is not right or we can consider what we can do better in the future. Instead of grumbling, I choose to practice gratitude. Both of these take the same amount of time and energy:)