Imagining Our Needs
Excerpts from The Joy of Compassionate Connecting - The Way of Christ Through Nonviolent Communication, Chapter 11. We Are Part of the Garden.
Used with permission from the author
Think about staring into a meadow with a hundred different shades of green. Think of the majesty of ancient pine trees, or the simple rippling sound of a stream of fresh running water. Recall the soothing sound of the waves crashing on the sand at the beach and the green glow of sunlight through a wave just before it breaks. Think about gazing into the center of a rose and smelling its sweet, pungent fragrance.
Photo by Melissa Askew on Unsplash
Integrity calls us to act in ways that are consistent with our hearts, ways to live outwardly in harmony with what we know to be true inside. This space within us is stimulated when we see others acting in ways consistent with their values. We are self-similar25 when we look at our lives in different settings within our various spheres of influence, both internal and external—and they’re similar. We authentically behave in ways congruent with our values. Integrity is the opposite of hypocrisy.
In a relationship, both people see their needs as important. Our conversations are focused on hearing each other’s needs and acknowledging our hearts—we help each other understand what needs are alive, and we routinely reinvent our strategies to connect with those needs. We say to each other, “I value your needs as much as mine and you value my needs just as much as your own.” In our relationship, we agree that life is about meeting both of our needs, and we strive to find strategies to meet them. We have a mutual consideration and respect for our unique experiences, and we value equality and balance in what we share.
We have the freedom to choose and to make choices that suit us best. Autonomy isn’t about living alone on an island but about having the comfort of honestly expressing our personal truth to another person—not at the expense of their needs or our own, but within an open dialogue. We resist any real or perceived pressure to comply with someone else’s requests or demands if they don’t work for us. We exercise our freedom to choose within a relationship.
Meaning is a word that points deeply into our heart, which celebrates when things come together in unexpected ways. Our need for meaning is met when we are able to contribute to something bigger than ourselves. Our purpose is a specific way in which meaning speaks to our reason for being on the planet. It reminds us of the celestial celebration of our coming into being and of the gifts we have to contribute.
practices that encourage imagination help to more deeply experience needs
Reading poetry can help you enter liminal space, a zone between the conscious and unconscious, where it's easier to connect to the living energy of needs. Writing from the heart can be a gift to oneself and others; reading ones work to others can more deeply connect us to our life experience.
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