I began studying NVC 4 years ago and at that very same moment, I met a man in the first workshop with whom I later became involved. I had a vision in my mind about how NVC would impact and guide our communication with each other. It excited me to think of how wonderful this new relationship would be with the help of NVC.
After that first 5-week Fundamentals workshop, I continued to study NVC intensely and eventually became one of the first candidates in RMCCN’s Compassionate Communication Facilitator Accreditation program.
This past year, as part of my training, I was enrolled in the Living Compassion year-long intensive training with Robert Gonzales which included 3 week-long retreats at Sunrise Ranch, all hosted by RMCCN. I was at the final retreat from June 7th – June 14th 2015.
But I learned something over the past 4 years that I hadn’t expected to learn: NVC isn’t a magic bullet. It is an extremely powerful tool for personal transformation and interpersonal communication, but it doesn’t give us the power to make everything go exactly the way we want it to go. I discovered something in myself that I call “NVC Perfectionism”. I concluded that 4 years of training “should” give me the power to meet all of my needs in every situation and every relationship the way I want. But now I am confronted with the reality that it just ain’t so.
Like everything else in life, there are ups and downs, fulfilling moments and heart-breaking moments, victories and defeats. The difference now is that I see it all more clearly. There are fewer layers of conditioning and delusion overlaying that reality. I have the capacity now to identity and express my feelings and needs, and request ways that others might meet those needs, but I have had the experience, even very recently, of discovering the myriad ways that others and life can say “no” to me.
Would I prefer to return to who I was 4 years ago, pre-NVC? Absolutely not.
Hearing “no” means that I can move on with more clarity, speed, and grace. I cannot force someone else to meet my needs or want the same things I want, but I don’t have to accept the status quo either.
Marshall Rosenberg said, “When we think our needs can only be met in one way, we take an abundant universe and make it scarce.”
By allowing another person to say “no” to me, I allow him his autonomy, choice, and power in his world. If he isn’t willing to meet my needs, I don’t have to stick around in an unfulfilling relationship just because I know NVC and think I “should” be so perfect at it that everything goes the way I want it to go.
That was my NVC Perfectionism, which was just another way I created domination in my world. Somehow, I managed to turn NVC into another tool for domination and I submitted to it. It became another mask I wore to protect myself from pain and fear, which I called “the NVC practitioner.“ The story I told myself was that as an NVC practitioner, I must always “do” NVC perfectly and then all will go right in my world.
But I’d gotten it all twisted up. The mindset of domination was so well-engrained in me from growing up in a culture of domination, I turned it in on myself.
So, I am still learning the basics. Even after 4 years, I have to go back to the place I began on the spiral, back to the beginning — self-love and self-acceptance — but I know that I am at a higher level on the spiral than I was four years ago.
Now I am moving beyond the mechanics of NVC and into the consciousness of NVC. In NVC consciousness, we aren’t focusing on the shoulds, the judgments, or the right and wrong of things. And we don’t “do” NVC on people. Rather, we gradually move into a stage of consciousness in which we live compassionately.
So whatever stage you happen to be in with your study of NVC and compassionate communication, I invite you to let go of your own perfectionism, expectations, and assumptions. Feel compassion for yourself and trust the gradual process of your own consciousness evolution.
Reporting from the Living Compassion Retreat at Sunrise Ranch on Day 3, I honed in on two very powerful needs: self-love and self-acceptance. Now I am saying to myself, “It’s okay to let got of being perfect.”