Mediating Among The Voices in Your Head Using Nonviolent Communication
By Ike Lasater
Much of what Marshall Rosenberg demonstrated in his many workshops around the world was, in effect, mediating among the different parts of ourselves that vie to be the part that directs our conscious conduct. He made this more explicit when he
worked with a person on stage to facilitate a conversation between their “Chooser” and their “Educator.” As he explained during the course of working with someone, the Chooser was the part of the person that had chosen to do the conduct that the person was typically regretting. And the Educator was the part of the person that was judging, typically negatively and harshly, the choices made by the Chooser.
This aspect of Marshall’s work was in keeping with a long history of acknowledging conflicting parts of ourselves. This history can be tracked through literature and through various psychological models, and of course religion and pop culture.
From the world of psychology, here are two examples of approaches
that explicitly refer to different parts of ourselves: Voice Dialogue, developed by Hal and Sidra Stone, and Internal Family Mediation, developed by Richard Schwartz. T
his concept of meditating upon the parts of ourselves is further developed in the latest 3rd volume of our Mediate Your Life book series: When Your Mind Sabotages Your Dreams: Turning Your Critical Internal Voices into Collaborative Allies by Ike Lasater, John Kinyon and Julie Stiles .
Here is an excerpt from that book that will give you a sense of how to work with these parts of ourselves:
Most people go through their lives as if they are entirely at the mercy of what happens around them. If they don’t have what they desire in their lives, they may blame outside circumstances,
their past, or other people, saying things like, “Well, I just haven’t met the right person yet, that’s why I’m not married” or “I didn’t grow up in an entrepreneurial family, so I don’t have it in my genes to get a business going.” They may also internalize the blame and find themselves at fault: “I’d love to make more money, but I’m not smart enough.” Frequently, people feel hopeless and helpless, as if they play no part in getting what they want.
All of this is understandable, since most people were never taught how to “create” their lives. When you grow up in a family and culture where people tend to look outward for responsibility, and blame and shame are the predominant responses to what happens, being willing to look at your part in creating your life takes courage and openness to a whole new way of seeing the world.
Because taking responsibility for the part you play in creating your life starts within. Of course, there are many circumstances out of your control that influence your life, but you do have significant control over how you relate to your circumstances. Thus, it’s what you do within you, how you relate to yourself, others, and the world—that is where creating your
Ask yourself: Am I satisfied with my life? Is there anything I can do to make it better?
People often find some areas of life that work in their favor, but others that simply don’t. For example, perhaps business is the arena where you are effective at reaching your goals, and yet you can’t seem to create a relationship that works, or vice versa. Maybe you feel comfortable taking
responsibility for your health, but your financial situation is out of control.
In order to create what you desire, you must first have a dream, create a plan, and then begin to implement the plan. To create anything in the world with other people, you have conversations with them. If you and your colleagues are working on a project together, you have conversations about who
will do which tasks, what outcomes you’re looking for, etc. When it comes to yourself, however, you may not realize you are having a conversation, and maybe even a conflict, with yourself.
One of the most common obstacles people experience is their own thoughts. We call these obstructive thoughts, "barriers."
When barriers arise, the internal conversation turns into an internal conflict between part of you that would like to act on your dream, and one or more voices that are resistant. Many people believe the resistant, self-sabotaging thoughts and their plans come to a standstill.
In our view, all internal voices have
something important to contribute toward actualizing your dream. We suggest mediating between the conflicting voices that arise in the course of pursuing it. When two people are in conflict, a mediator listens to both parties and assists them in coming to an agreement about how to proceed. When the two parties are both in your own mind, you can act as your own mediator by accessing what we call mediator mind.
From this state, you can listen to your internal voices and hear what they have to contribute, and in doing so, help them begin to collaborate to create new possibilities.
When you’re in internal conflict, every voice represents some part of you that has a need not being addressed. Thus, you
can treat the conflicting internal voices the same way you would if you were mediating between two people: uncover the needs of both parties, and then help them collaborate to find a solution that will meet those needs. When you change the internal conversation by listening in a new way, you can begin creating your life from a space of collaboration instead of conflict.
"The angrier a person sounds, the more fear the person probably has."
A Giraffe Approach to Communicating With Your Child
As parents we [need to be aware of] how we communicate with our children. We [must] ask ourselves whether it is lending to a relationship built on mutual respect, caring and trust. In the book, Raising children compassionately: parenting the nonviolent communication (NVC) way, Rosenberg makes a winning argument for re-focusing on the quality
of relationships with your children and the strength of that connection. He suggests that we need to take a giraffe perspective, where we strive to be conscious of how communication builds present and future bonds through awareness.
In Say What You Mean, Oren Jay Sofer offers a unique and pragmatic approach to deepening and improving relationships by transforming our
patterns of speaking and listening. With a step-by-step approach for lasting changes in our fundamental orientation to communication, Oren brings a clear, new voice to the world of interpersonal communication.
"When we connect at the heart level-it will work out whatever it is."
Can You Really Feel Me? Connecting Across Differences When Holding
Watch this Short Film that had already impacted people the world over. "Man in the queue". A heart-warming story that made ripples. Watch the message in a paper: "A simple act of caring creates an endless ripple – That comes back to you."
Hear how it
is possible to dialogue across differences through the practice of Nonviolent Communication, despite holding conflicting perspectives. How can we talk about issues we are passionate about when the people we are talking with hold perspectives that are radically different than our own?
to reveal whatever is alive in me at any given moment
to receive whatever is alive in you at any given moment."
Other Good Stuff
Compassion in Action
Watch this Short Film that had already impacted people the world over. “Man in the queue”. A heart-warming story that made ripples. Watch the message in a paper: “A simple act of caring creates an endless ripple – That comes back to you”
[Seattle] Today was the first day of Spring and the sky was brilliant with sun, the streets framed with pink cherry blossoms, and yellow daffodils popping up everywhere. I drove downtown to my Tuesday class at the alternative-to-jail program; I walked through security, went to the
small airless classroom and sat down.
Friendly staff stopped by to say hello. They thanked me for coming, referring to me as “instructor”. I told them I’m there to learn. I’m eager, in fact, to see who will show up for our 40 minute “Nonviolent Communication class." And to see how quickly we can shed what separates us—our many shades of skin, age difference,
privilege, labels of teacher, student, offender, helper—and get to just being human together.
Six men showed up, joining three "facilitators" around the circle. I asked for help laying out the 65 bright yellow Needs cards on the folding table before us. A few men took a stack of cards. A man with bright blue hair took special care arranging them so everyone
could read every one.