Many of us have the conscious or unconscious belief that we’re all alone – painful, right?
Feeling alone may be even more difficult during the special times of year when we’re together with family and/or friends and we think we’re supposed to feel connected with them and we don’t.
One of the ways this alone belief was transformed in me was when I started learning Marshall Rosenberg’s Nonviolent Communication (NVC).
NVC taught me that EVERY SINGLE HUMAN BEING IN THE WORLD has the same basic feelings, wants, and longings. They’re universal. Before learning this, I would think that I was all alone with my feelings, feel overwhelmed by them, and even wrong for having them.
Marshall wrote a list of Universal Feelings and Needs. That list helped to concretize the reality of their universality for me.
When I found out that others also knew the feeling of embarrassment just the same as I did, I felt freedom and relief. As unique as we each are, we all have the same basic feelings operating system. I needn’t hide my feelings anymore. Knowing this gave me permission to be more and more expressive of my true self.
Over the years as I’ve practiced expressing and listening to others’ needs, it has become clear to me that I wasn’t alone at all. To my amazement, each person I worked with truly did have the same feelings and needs that I had – just as Marshall had declared.
I began to see that my expression of my needs was not only a gift to me, it was a gift for others. It supported those who didn’t yet have permission to express their feelings and needs freely.
At our recent family gathering over the holidays I waited for the right time in the meal to remember the recent loss of my ex-husband and the father of my kids. As I tearfully spoke explaining that this was our first Christmas without him and how we all missed him, each in our own way – as father, friend, uncle, … I saw many heads nodding and some tears. I felt a deep stillness in the room. Their hearts had opened with my tender expression of my feelings.
At other holidays I might have felt alone and self-berating about having feelings. I believed that no one wanted to hear them or would understand or would care. Instead this time I enjoyed sweet family connection.
Being honest took courage at first. With each experience of this sort I settled into greater confidence to be real.
It’s because of this experience that I’m so passionate about being true to myself and helping others be true to themselves.
Not only is my passion enlivening for me and for my deeper connection with others, I delight in knowing that it supports others to open to their precious, tender selves.
“Strive to close the eyes of the body and open those of the soul and look into your own heart.”
~ Teresa of Avila