If you’re struggling with putting NVC into practice, you’re not alone. We’ve had 10,000 years of the domination paradigm, which has taught us these not-useful ways of commuicating. On top of that, our brains aren’t good at thinking clearly when we’re triggered (ie when we most need NVC!)
I think most people come to NVC hoping to learn quick techniques for coping when they’re triggered or upset. NVC absolutely does teach this – AND it takes some time and practice to learn to use in the moment. In the meantime, here’s my best strategy for bringing down my emotional temperature when I’m triggered.
Once you’ve cooled down, your best LONG-TERM strategy is to go and do the NVC “OFNR” exercise, which will bring you into greater peace, and slowly reduce the likelihood of the same trigger happening again as strongly.
We need to start with a little theory, before moving on to the actual strategy, so that the strategy will make sense. I’ve found the following information incredibly useful and comforting as I’ve learned to manage my triggers.
Thoughts vs feelings – feelings are IN the body, only story (thoughts) keeps emotion going longer than about 45 seconds.
Sense into the feeling IN THE BODY – dropping the label, with great compassion and curiosity
Honour the feeling (in the body) by focusing on it, and not on the story
Be the ocean that the wave is passing through …
“Whatever is happening in the circumstances of your life, stop. Just for a moment. Bring your attention towards the here-and-now. Let the moment become fascinating. Gently begin to acknowledge what is actually happening where you are. Come out of your conclusions about life, your dreams about past and future, and begin to notice the sensations, feelings, thoughts that are present, right here and right now. Let your present experience – sights and sounds and smells – become the most curious dance in all the universe. You are seeing, tasting, touching, hearing the world as if for the first time. This is your Garden of Eden, your messy, intense, joyous and heart-breaking Garden of Eden, and you are awake to it at last. Stop trying to figure everything out. Give in. Give up. Give all to the moment’s embrace. Fall into not knowing…” – Jeff Foster
HOW TO GET GOOD AT USING THIS STRATEGY
The problem with any strategy is remembering to use it when we need it! It’s especially hard to remember *anything* when we’re triggered. … PRACTICE …
I’VE CALMED DOWN A LITTLE, WHAT NEXT? LONGER TERM STRATEGIES TO REDUCE TRIGGERS
NVC, obviously – learn what feelings and needs are behind the trigger, and find ways to meet that need more often in daily life.