BLISSfix Book Review Part 1 – NVC: A Language of Life By: Marshall Rosenberg, Ph.D.

January 7, 2010 at 9:00 am Leave a comment

I remember loving this book, but as I picked it back up yesterday, it swept me off my feet once again.  The following excerpt summed up some really important pieces of the puzzle of why this teaching touches me in the way that it does… I’ll explain a bit more after you read the following.  enjoy!  It’s delicious.

Forward by Arun Gandhi Taken from pg xiii-xv

As a person of color, growing up in apartheid South Africa in the 1940s was not something anyone relished.  Especially not if you were brutally reminded of your skin color every moment of every day.  To be beaten up at the age of ten by white youths because they consider you too black and then by black youths because they consider you too white is a humiliating experience that would drive anyone to vengeful violence.

I was so outraged that my parents decided to take me to India and leave me for some time with Grandfather, the legendary M.K. Gandhi, so that I could learn from him how to deal with the anger, the frustration, the discrimination, and the humiliation that violent color prejudice can evoke in you.  In the eighteen months I learned more than I anticipated…

We often don’t acknowledge our violence because we are ignorant about it; we assume we are not violent because our vision of violence is one of fighting, killing, beating, and wars – the types of things average individuals don’t do.

To bring this home to me, Grandfather made me draw a family tree of violence using the same principals as for a genealogical tree.  His argument was that I would have a better appreciation of nonviolence if I understood and acknowledged the violence that exists in the world.  He assisted me every evening to analyze the day’s happenings – everything that I had experience, read about, saw or did to others – and put them down on the tree as either under “physical, ” if it was violence where physical force was used, or under “passive,” if it was the type of violence where the hurt was more emotional.

Within a few months I covered one wall in my room with acts of “passive” violence which Grandfather described as being more insideous than “physical” violence.  He the explained that passive violence ultimately generated anger in the victim who, as an individual or as a member of a collective, responded violently.  In other words, it is passive violence that fuels the fire of physical violence.  It is because we don’t understand or appreciate this that each peace has been temporary.  How can we extinguish a fire if we don’t first cut off the fuel that ignites the inferno?…

… As Grandfather would say, unless “we become the change we wish to see in the world,” no change will ever take place.  We are all, unfortunately, waiting for the other person to change first…

… We often hear people say: This world is ruthless, and if you want to survive you must become ruthless too.  I humbly disagree.

This world is what we have made of it.  If it is ruthless today it is because we have made it ruthless by our attitudes.  If we can change ourselves we can change the world, and changing ourselves beings with changing our language and methods of communication.  I highly recommend reading this book and applying the Nonviolent Communication process it teaches.  It is a significant first step toward changing our communication and creating a compassionate world.

– Arun Gandhi

Ok, so 1) i’m just loving day dreaming about what it would have been like to have Mahatma Gandhi as my grandfather and get one-on-one training with him… how freaking amazing would that be?!!

And 2) this and other parts of this book woke me up to the truth that my passive agressive comments are what lead to physical violence toward me.  It could be one slight comment to the wrong person at the wrong time, or it could be months of backhanded, manipulative comments, before the person that i’m directing them to finally can’t take anymore and feels compelled to lash out at me to get me to stop and hear their needs.  (I’m really thinking of many situations I got myself into as a teenager… with girlfriends, with my parents, etc.)  Oh, what a gift it would have been to have been trained in this before middle school!  whew!  Would have missed some emotional scars there… but honestly, having witnessed this teaching now, I can see through the falsehood of all of those painful experiences and they don’t hurt in the slightest anymore… I only feel love for all the people who were involved, and what a gift that is, as well. 🙂

And then I think another vital part of that (3) was that until I woke up and realized that I was part of the problem… ie. I was attracting the attacking by subtling attacking in the first place through passive aggressive behavior… until I figured that out… I was impotent to do anything about it.  Once I accepted responsibility, I then had the power to see it differently.  I was no longer the victim, I was the perpertrator and I could change my actions, my thoughts and the way I saw the past, and the way I react in the future.  But i had to see it first.  And I think Mahatma Gandhi made that clear to his grandson when he taught him that  “[he] would have a better appreciation of nonviolence if [he] understood and acknowledged the violence that exists in the world. “

And last, but certainly not least… 4) I’ve always loved Ganhi’s quote, ‘we must be the change we wish to see in the world’ and i enjoyed being reminded of it here in this example.  It’s by practicing these principles and applying them that I begin to change my experience and the experience of all the people around me…  and hopefully they will enjoy my shift toward being more straightforward, clear, compassionate and truly seeking to understand their needs, desires and requests.   And just by changing my sphere… they will feel peace too… and perhaps spread it to their sphere… and with 6 degrees of separation growing smaller by the minute with the help of Facebook, Twitter, etc… then I marvel at how quickly starting in my own back yard could help loads and loads of people.

If any of this appeals to you, I highly recommend this book and the free event on Friday, Jan 15th, 2010.

– Review continues here –


Entry filed under: Conscious Books. Tags: , , , , , , , , , .

“You must be the change you wish to see BLISSfix Quotables – Jack Canfield on NVC

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