Returning to the earlier post on reactivity and pants. For starters, I believe it is never really about them pants or whatever becomes a trigger for our reactivity, although in the situation when it actually occurs it can be very hard to see it. We so much want to believe that the root of our discomfort lies outside ourselves that we start believing it and acting on it. For me the question is not whether to pick up the pants or not but rather what I can learn from my reactivity around it: why and how matter more than what. This is not to give myself yet another reason to beat myself up over something but to see what underlying beliefs run the weather of my emotional and mental landscape.
If you don’t realize the source,
you stumble in confusion and sorrow
Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching
For starters I look at the questions like:
- What happened here?
- Why was it so important to me?
- Why did I get so angry?
- What is the belief I am holding on to?
And finally I want to know:
- What would my life look like without that belief?
NVC is not the only model that holds that expressing our needs and having them met is important for us. In one of the podcasts on Just for Women the guest was advocating direct communication and advised already on the first date be open about one’s needs, “These are my needs. What are yours?”. I scratch your back if you scratch mine. Nothing wrong with the business-like exchange of this kind if both parties are aware that the relationship is based on this sort of transaction rather than on emotional connection where you like the person and not what they can do for you.
This is where I started wondering: how often do we actually like the person and not what they can do for us? How reasonable is it for me to assume that others will volunteer to help me satisfy my needs or will do it long enough to keep me happy? How does this belief influence my relationships?
Looking at the history of my own relationships (romantic as well as friendships) I realised that time after another I expected people to be a certain way (so my needs would be met?) Needless to say it never was as I expected. People did not want to, didn’t have capacity or didn’t know how to make me happy (and isn’t that the implication of having one’s needs met?) and I often would end up feeling let down and abandoned. There was no understanding on my part that knowing and respecting my needs and making others responsible for meeting them would never make a ground for a healthy and sustainable relationship not to mention it had nothing to do with the unconditional love.
Do I know better now? I hope so! Still I can notice the contraction when a friend says no or when a lover asks for more space. I feel my ego cringe. What am I attached to here? The whole issue of needs leads me – again! – to the subject of self and no self (or true self) and those masks (personas) we wear and identify with when we hold on to a particular belief. It all seems to be evolving around the same topic – identification, the me-ing.
Photo: Josef Verbok