Posts tagged ‘compassion’

BLISSfix Quotables – topic: people pleasing

“I can’t give you a sure-fire formula for success, but I can give you a formula for failure: try to please every the time.”  –  Herbert Bayard Swope

This quote is yet another reason why I’m pumped about learning and practicing Nonviolent Communication.  Kelly Bryson talked about being ‘other directed’ in his book, Don’t Be Nice, Be Real, saying that through our social training, we are taught to be focused on what others want from us all the time.  Bingo!  Ding ding ding ding!  You got your people pleaser right here!

I was so focused on what other people wanted from me, that I had no idea what I wanted myself!  What authentically makes me happy?  What authentically pisses me off?  Am I allowed to be pissed off?  I didn’t think I was.

I’ve gotten better, but 30 years of training doesn’t get undone in one night.  Either way, I’m grateful for the progress I’ve made and I’m eager to learn more!

January 13, 2010 at 4:40 am Leave a comment

BLISSfix Conscious Events – Come Together for Peace in Charlotte, NC

Oh, joy!  Oh, joy!  I asked and it was given.  For those of you who read my blog on Jan 5th, you know that my primary reason for bringing Catherine Cadden to Charlotte was to attract a regularly meeting group to practice NVC with.  Just three days later, the leader of such a group called me this morning!  She had found me through a friend who had heard about the upcoming event.

Here are the details in case you’re interested in joining.  I hope to be there this Wednesday! 🙂

Come Together for Peace
Every Wednesday
will be an ongoing gathering of
Peace Workers, Peace Makers, and Peace Lovers –
all those who are hearing a call to work for peace
and to bring it forth in our lifetime.

7-8 PM  Learn and practice skills for inner peace

8-9 PM  Vision and plan for action

meeting at


401 E. Arrowood Road

Charlotte, NC 28217


January 11, 2010 at 4:32 pm Leave a comment

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

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 –

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

BLISSfix Greetings from Sunny (& Snowy) Colorado!

For those of you who don’t already know, Sean and I are on vacation in Winterpark, Co.  I’m taking today off from the slopes to recover fully from the busy weeks that preceded this trip.


Today I’m experiencing remorse for a conversation I had with Sean last night over dinner and it reminds me of the real reason I invited Catherine Cadden to speak in Charlotte.  The real reason is because as much as I respect this process, and have seen it work in my life, and have read several books on it, I’m still capable of forgetting it when I need it most.  The real reason is because I want to live this compassionate way of life all the time, and I need help in order to do it.  The real reason is that I’m hoping by having her speak, other people in Charlotte might be drawn to the teaching as well, and might want to practice with me on a regular basis.  I see myself as a student and I’m looking for study buddies. 🙂

The Knitty Gritty Details of My Mistake

I’ve found there is nothing more frustrating than when I do something regretable, and I knew better than to do it.  If it’s a first mistake or an action of ignorance… ok, well, I’ll learn and move on… but oh, do I give myself a hard time when it’s the 5th or 5,000th time I’ve learned the same lesson.

Last night in a moment of frustration, because I felt I hadn’t being heard or understood, I was critical of a photo idea Sean had.  I told him I didn’t like it, and I might have gone as far as calling it ‘stupid.’  Why did I do that?  Well, it wasn’t because I actually think it’s stupid… because it’s actually a pretty cool vision that he had.  I did it because I was being defensive.  What was I being defensive about?  Well, I thought he wasn’t catching on to how hurt I felt last week when I had suggested several photo ideas while on a shoot only to have him ignore them.

This is an old pattern of mine, and of many… where when I feel ignored, or misunderstood, I make myself obvious and heard by lashing out with hurtful comments.  “Zinger” “I gotch’ya!”  “how do you like ‘dem apples!” is kind of the approach.

Now the last thing I want is for Sean to think that the comment I made actually reflects how I really feel.  It doesn’t.  I’ve already acknowledged here that I actually think his idea is quite good and that the comment was a defensive attack.   My fear here is that the comment will drift around in the back of his mind, and collect with all the similar comments I’ve made in the past, and the similar comments other people have made in the past, and affect the way he feels about himself, or affect the way he feels about sharing ideas with me in the future.  I honestly think Sean is very secure and so the risk of him feeling bad about himself because of my comment is pretty low, but just a month ago I had already detected that he felt I am too critical at times, so that fear has possible validity.  At the moment I picked up on his feeling of me being too critical, I had determined to change my ways, and here I’ve gone and broken my agreement with myself to stop being critical.  Argh!

Who am I to critique Sean?  Who am I to judge his work, his point of inspiration, or him in any way?  Sure I’m a creative person and I have creative opinions, but I also have the ability to express them consciously… not with my teeth bared and snarling!  It’s not that I want to cut off my ability to have preferences, but I could open my ability to be more accepting, open-minded, open-hearted, allowing, etc.  Being judgmental is not who I really am and it is not who I want to be.  I believe it is my ego that is trying to sort people, places and things into categories of good, bad and ugly.  And I believe that is my highest function on this earth to be a person of forgiveness, love and acceptance of all that is.  Including myself.

What Now?

I’m sure you can hear the many layers of self-loathing in my expressed frustration, but I honor that whether it be the 5th or 5000th time I’ve let myself down, it is yet another oportunity to forgive and accept myself as I am.  And it’s here that I start my healing of the situation from last night.  I first forgive myself, because I cannot give what I do not have.  Now I will forgive Sean for whatever imaginings of wrong-doing I was defending myself against.  I don’t want to even label them here, because like I said, it was imagined. And lastly, I will ask him to forgive me from my attack, and that is his free will and path to peace to choose to forgive me or not.

But back to attacks being imagined… I am coming to believe that anything I view as an attack against me is an illusion, because I believe that everything is happening for my good.  Everything is an oportunity for me to remember my truth.  So perhaps in that moment where I didn’t feel heard, perhaps it was an oportuity for me to remember that I don’t need to be heard to exhist.  Maybe I could have remembered that I hear and love and accept myself and I don’t need that service from Sean or anyone else.  From that place of acceptance, perhaps I could have done a better job of vocalizing what was ‘really’ happening and here’s where the NVC training comes in.

Perhaps the conversation could have gone like this instead:

“Sean, I hear that you really like it when I’m happy in the business and I really appreciate that.  I acknowledge that the last few months have been much better and I have enjoyed being more involved in the brainstorming process and feeling my creativity has an outlet here.  I want to also acknowledge my feeling of disappointment that the last 3 weeks haven’t allowed for my creativity as much.  And at times I’ve been scared that we were regressing to old patterns where my ideas weren’t valued.  I also want to accept responsibility that all of my volunteer activities have taken a lot of my time and could have impacted your ability to come to me for my ideas and therefor it might actually be a sign that if I want to continue enjoying my creative roll in the business, then I need to  reduce the amount of activities demanding my time.  I’d like to know now, what you heard me say. …. (at which point Sean would be given the opportunity to reflect my thoughts back to me and I could clarify if he had taken any of them personally, or if I had left anything out.)

What I really like about this improved conversation is that I voiced my accurate feelings (i’m disappointed and scared) and I also took responsibility for my contribution to the situation, which gives me power to make a change myself.  In the actual conversation, I didn’t express any feelings, I just told Sean angrily what I thought about his photo idea… which had nothing to do with anything.  And therefor continued our confusion and miscommunication.

So, it’s fine and dandy that I’m able to type an improved conversation 16hrs later… but I’d love to get so good at this practice that I never lash out at Sean or anyone again.  That I begin to live compassionately, and think compassionately, and really get that there is nothing in this world for me to defend myself against.  We are all spiritual beings, and if I dip into my compassionate nature, it is more likely that I will reach the compassionate true nature of the person I’m tempted to view as an attacker… be it minor, like this conflict with my husband, or major, like in a life or death situation.

There are many great examples of averted life threatening situations in Marshall Rosenberg’s book “NonViolent Communication: The Language of Life,” which I will review soon.

Blessings to you all and thanks for being part of my growth!  All my best! – heather

January 5, 2010 at 8:06 pm 3 comments

BLISSfix Book Review – “Don’t Be Nice, Be Real” by Kelly Bryson

Don’t Be Nice, Be Real  by Kelly Bryson

It’s only fitting that I should start here in my 14 days of blogging on Compassionate Communication (aka NonViolent Communication or NVC), as this is where it began for me.  I had had a series of events in my life that had revealed several truths:  1) my pleasing nature wasn’t pleasing anyone  and driving me insane in the process and 2) I had been living the life of a pleaser for so long, I didn’t know how to function peacefully without it.  It was as if I was operating on the belief that I could either try to read everyone’s minds and attempt to make them happy and work overtime to give them what they wanted, or I could stand up for what I wanted and be a Bitch.  Why is it that my upbringing gave me only two archetypes as a woman… pushover or bitch?  And to be completely honest, bitch wasn’t working for me.  I wasn’t even being an aggressive bitch, but I was finding all sorts of physical and verbal conflict just by stating my opinion firmly.

It was clear I needed to do something to learn how to operate out of my old pleaser paradigm.  My first thought was to look into martial arts, so I could at least defend myself against an attacker should my words come to that.  But that didn’t feel quite right either… I didn’t believe in enemies, and I was honestly shocked that I was attracting so many just by having an opinion.   And I love that whenever I ask an earnest question from my heart, an answer always arrives… and that’s what happened when I visited COLORS Center for Spiritual Living in Charlotte for the first time and found this book in their bookstore.

It was like a light bulb went on and I thought, “Oh, a third option… nice, bitch and REAL!” 🙂

So here’s my review: I cannot speak for the entire book, as I only read half of it, because I only read books as long as they are serving me and then I move onto the next that is calling my name.  However I will speak fondly of what I did read.  Chapter 1, entitled Don’t Pay the Price of Being Nice, is covered in my pencil scratch and notes from the multiple levels of which it resonated with what I was searching for.  A way to end my cycle of being nice, only to fail those around me and myself.  He talked about how as children we are trained in school and by our parents to conform to the needs of others (namely adults) through punishment, reward and peer pressure and that this training causes many of us to be ‘other-directed’ the rest of our lives.  Bryson does a great job of pulling quotes from experts in the fields of psychology and the human potential movement and blending them seamlessly with his own thoughts and points.   As I read this first chapter I could feel how angry Bryson is that we have evolved this direction, which made me want to raise my sword and scream “FREEDOM,” too.  Although, sometimes I felt his anger clouded his vision and he would make loose points that I didn’t fully agree with, which then seemed to invalidate some of his stronger points.  My favorite thing about Bryson’s writing is his ability to bring humor into play with his well researched passion for a new way of being.  Truly, it might be the most entertaining book I’ve read in the self-help category.  It’s full of one-liners, puns, play-on-words, and comedic relief.  I scored 100% on his list of “you might be a ‘nice’neck if!”

I also really appreciate how many examples Bryson provides when teaching his concepts of NVC, because in each one I’m able to relate to the different characters and imagine myself in their shoes and sense how the situation can be changed through my compassionate responses.

In the end, the reason I stopped reading is because Bryson is an imperfect teacher.  His passionate anger and ability to make fun of these topics can sometimes seem as if he’s missing his own point.  Once Bryson had helped me see the error in my ways, I was ready for a teacher that could not only tell me about the way things “should” be, but also model it for me in every word and action.  I also felt guilty every time I judged him for it, and felt like I wasn’t living the compassion either.

In summary:

+ Bryson is humorous, a talented writer, and passionate about the topic, and the book is well-researched, full of great examples and thorough.

– Bryson in some ways fails to live what he teaches, and although 95% of his points are valid, it’s the 5% where he stretches a bit that cause the entire argument to weaken.

All in all, I would highly recommend this book to others, especially those who feel they might be a ‘Nice’neck! 🙂

MORE REVIEWS of Don’t Be Nice Be Real By Kelly Bryson: Amazon’s Customer Reviews


REMEMBER Just 13 Days until the Charlotte Peace Rising Event

Friday, Jan 15th, 7pm

email to ensure you have a seat!

January 2, 2010 at 5:50 pm 1 comment

A new year… A new commitment to compassion.

This year, my main resolution is to master living compassionately. To see all things through the eyes of love.  I think this also means living without fear, in the sense that I see that there is nothing to defend against.  I want to deeply understand, see and believe that “all there is, is love.”  I want my words and actions to be peaceful, loving and compassionate.  And I want my thoughts toward myself and others to be equally peaceful and focused on love, peace, ease, gratitude, appreciation, and joy.  In other words… I see living compassionately as a sure step to living blissfully.

My first attempt in bringing this about is practice.  Practice make progress.  This past year I read multiple books on compassionate communication (aka Non-Violent Communication) and saw some major progress in the way I relate with my husband, friends, and family.  I was also really encouraged by the level of insight I gained in understanding my own needs and ending my habits of self-sabotage.  (a blog entry in itself)  However, the room for improvement is vast.

So to make major progress this year, I would truly love to meet with a local Non-Violent Communication (NVC) practice group regularly.  I first had this desire last June and was saddened to realized the closest regularly meeting practice group was in Chapel Hill, NC, a good 2.5 hrs away.  So, I contacted the leader of, Catherine Cadden, author of Peaceable Revolution Through Education, and asked for her help.

The great news…  da…da… daaaa….

She’s coming to speak here in Charlotte on Friday, Jan. 15th, 2010 at our studio!  The event is free to the public and will showcase videos of her work.  It’s only 2 hrs long and the talk begins at 7pm, doors open at 6:30pm.  Please pre-register by emailing me  at so we can ensure you have a place to sit! 🙂

On Saturday, those who feel called to learn more will be invited to our home for a vegetarian potluck and full day workshop.  This workshop will teach us in depth practices for changing the way we communicate our needs and desires to others, increasing our chances for peace and ease in our relationships.

My hope is that by bringing ZeNVC here, that several people in attendance will be inspired to form a regularly meeting practice group in Charlotte.

As of today, this is just 14 days away, so I plan to blog about NVC for the next 14 days to give it a little hype and help people understand what it is… so they can see if they want to come.

I’m excited and hopeful about this event and my resolution.

RESOLUTION TIP: check out as a way to keep track and receive support with your life goals.  I love how this site focuses on the positive and helps you align with your goal vibrationally.  Very nice! 🙂

January 2, 2010 at 1:46 am 1 comment