I’ve decided that for this New Year’s post I would take my impressions from this past year of what I have heard, seen and felt to help identify what I believe are the unmet needs of so many people. I have listed these as a wish for the New Year with links that might be helpful to you in meeting those needs.
May you experience cooperation.
Marshall Rosenberg believed that everyone’s needs could be met if we focused not on the strategies, but the needs. In other words if I want security, if I can let go of how I think that should look, and the other people I’m working with can do the same, we will be able to find a way to meet that need, along with the other needs they may have. What we have been seeing in politics lately however is an inability for people to trust enough to let go of the strategies they want. When the other person/s aren’t able to cooperate, a strategy of peaceful resistance may be the only alternative.
Robert Axelrod has done some groundbreaking work in this area. You can find some very interesting reading in either The Evolution of Cooperation or Launching the Evolution of Cooperation. There is a nice short video explaining the concepts here, and a longer documentary about it here. There is an article in Forbes magazine about a slight but significant improvement to the process here, and finally if you want to listen to Radio Lab discuss it, go here.
May you experience community.
Some of us are struggling just to find a community to belong to. I would suggest the books The Structure of Belonging by Peter Block and The Abundant Community by John McKnight and Peter Block. There is an inspirational video by Nadav Wilf here about developing communities based on passion. If your passion happens to be compassion, you might find some communities to join here. Finally, once you have decided on a passion, there is always Meetup in your local community.
May you experience compassion.
Compassion is being concerned for the suffering of others and wanting to do something about it. Karen Armstrong was the driving force for The Charter for Compassion as she explains here. Her wish is to take back major religions from the forces that would separate us and focus on what unites us, the Golden Rule. Cormac Russell talks to us about a compassionate way of helping others, focusing on their strengths here. You will also find much more about compassion and community on the website, Abundant Community.
May you experience inclusion.
John Lord and Peggy Hutchison have written a helpful book for developing inclusion in communities, Pathways to Inclusion: Building a New Story with People and Communities. You may also find Hutchison’s Friends and Inclusion: Five Approaches to Building Relationships helpful. You will find a thought provoking video about inclusion, exclusion, illusion and collusion here. Helen Turnbull explains how we can start to see our own blind spots to inclusion. You can find more of her thoughts about the illusion of inclusion here as well.
May you experience authenticity.
There appears to be a great longing for authenticity in this county that is being confused with saying whatever you want. A push back against “political correctness”, that can be hurtful to others. Let me be clear, we are 100% responsible for everything we say and do, and 0% responsible for how others hear it. What that entails is a real consciousness of what you are saying and why. There is a way to be totally authentic with what you are thinking and feeling, and being completely responsible for it. There is a way to be authentic and caring at the same time. I would just again refer anyone interested in learning this language to the work of Marshall Rosenberg. Here is a good place to find resources to learn, and the first book of Dr. Rosenberg’s to start with is Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life.
May you experience hope.
I think one of the most hopeful books you could read is Spinning Threads of Radical Aliveness by Miki Kashtan. It is a story about who we are, how we got here and how we can move towards the different world we long for. You can also find more information and tools at her website, The Fearless Heart.
Finally, for those of you still mourning this past year, may you experience the deep mourning you need.
LaShelle Charde has some wise suggestions and guidance on how to gently hold yourself and give yourself the space to mourn here.
Heather Schlessman, PhD is a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner who has spent her career either working with or teaching about families. She is also a mother who, like so many other parents, spent years muddling her way raising 3 wonderfully different children, one who happens to be experiencing a disability. Fortunately she has a life partner who muddled along with her. Spending most of her time trying to be perfect, as that would be the safest way to live, she became aware of a desire to be able to see people in a more compassionate way. Little did she know that the person she needed the most compassion for was herself. There is a saying that when you are ready to learn a teacher will appear, and so it was for Dr. Schlessman. She was introduced to the work of Dr. Marshall Rosenberg, the developer of Nonviolent Communication, and her world completely changed. She learned a way to have an intimate connection with herself and others, a way to truly contribute. Her passion now is to help others find their way to a more compassionate life. You can find more of Dr. Schlessman’s empathic expressions along with her husband’s, Rev. Mark Schlessman on their website.