Kati / Ronja / Juk – (family, community, society)

by Milla — she=he

Songs: She liked Björk and Tori Amos, so — declare independence, cornflake girl —— And some song I’ve been listening to recently: objects of my affection

And a song that a friend saw on one of her blogs, saying that the quote from this song was revealing of what was going on with Ronja just before she killed herself. Maija Vilkkumaa — Lottovoitto. A critical view on Finland.

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This is grieving. All that could have been. All that was and all that still is.

I will not, as some persons writing on the internet – address her as if she could hear, as if she were here – she is not. I would like to climb into denial and think this is a sick joke to stir some life into the community – but it is not.

Kati / Ronja / Juk —

Born 1988. Suicide November 1st 2010. [i’m not certain about the exact date]

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At first I said “I feel cold” and the friend who told me closed the window, so I continued “I mean emotionally, I don’t care”. And some hour later tears started welling up, and did not stop for days. I cared.

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What follows is a combination of my interpretation, faulty memory and bits and pieces puzzled together in the last few days to make sense of what is:

She was sensitive to noise pollution, creative, imaginative with words, she had a tendency to take her inner reality -constant self-reflection- and put it ‘out there’, something I told her she should treasure, and as well be prepared that she would suffer for, since people in a damaged society tend to target ‘vulnerability’ or openness.

She came from a home with a violent father. It had long term effects on her, living in an unsafe environment. Low self-esteem in combination with wanting recognition for her talents, and high ideals, created a person bearing down hard on herself for not harboring an absolute pure selfless love, thinking it would be selfish of her, wanting to be seen and appreciated by others, and for others to resonate her thoughts and feelings.

She loved others in a big way. What I knew of her, she expressed her love openly. She was a non-conformist. Her actions didn’t fit with the mainstream way of behaving and reacting. I figure the expectations of how a ‘pretty young girl’ should behave and how the person in different periods calling herself Kati / Ronja / Juk behaved, didn’t mix, and that this got her in trouble with the Finnish mental health system.

Once when she wrote something on a wall in the metro, and some guards (that frequent the metro line en masse) confronted her -this is usually done in an authoritarian, aggressive tone. At this occasion, she was kicked, either by them or later on at the police station-, she didn’t know what to do, she was crying, avoiding eye-contact, and decided that she wouldn’t talk with them. They took her to the psychiatric ward. [for what reason?]

When one of her friends decided to go through the mandatory military service ‘just to try it out’ and as well to get a medical education, she got very surprised and upset – as many others, finding it difficult to picture that the army would be a suitable place for this person [which it wasn’t]. Once she went there, determined to meet with this friend. [she was in some sort of emotional state, her mother called me -the first and only time I got to talk with her- she wanted me to phone her daughter, I had a conversation with Kati / Ronja / Juk, she was a bit ‘walled off’ but mostly seemed determined to see her friend, so I talked with her mother again, and said that to me it seemed like she could care for herself — had something happened? what caused the great need to see the friend that day?] I don’t remember the details very well, so rather than making something up, I will just shortly say that: Her need and the visiting hours of the army didn’t match. She was there calling out for her friend. Again they took her to the psychiatric ward. [for what reason?]

This is a short comment on her encounters with the Finnish mental health system, sent by email 2007, she wanted to write a piece for a magazine called Voima about it. I don’t know if she ever did. [other things mentioned in the screenshot: ‘avohoito’ = finnish for ‘open care’, megafån, ‘feministitapetti’ = ‘feminist wall paper’, libero]

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Later she had for some time been talking with a friend about planning suicide. The friend told her parents, and once again she ended up in a psychiatric ward. This time she was ‘okay’ with it. I remember – after she had asked for permission – taking her out to sit in the grass outside, by some trees and flowers, in the sun. It took some time before she came alive in her speech. The drugs they gave her, made her dull. And after a while she was tired, ready to go back to lie down on her bed again.

I was a grumpy, rough edge in her life, not there as a constant, but I did belong as a part of her supporting system. We talked about life and death and hard feelings and how to get better. I encouraged her to move out of her parents house, since this was not a safe space for her, I told her there are ways to feel better. I know I can’t change anything, but I regret having fallen out with her. She was a person I had experienced deep connection with. Today I’m wondering how many others were there for her. I never asked myself that question before. I knew she had close relations with people around her, I assumed she had support.

It was a gradual process getting out of touch with her, a gradual process of me going through conflict (trauma), and expressing more and more anger. I regret that. She was very sensitive to expressions of aggression. I did a lot of reflection about our relation, and my reactions towards her, and in the end I decided to distance myself from her, since I couldn’t remain calm. I told her it hadn’t anything to do with her, that my reactions were mine, and that she doesn’t ‘deserve’ aggression and anger – I just couldn’t deal with her way of approaching this conflict in a constructive way, and I was in need of a different kind of support than what she was capable of offering .

She was seeking to be a part of the social center group in Helsinki, and participated in a meeting December 2008, where people voted to exclude me from the space for two years. They were showing with fingers in the air how many years I would be banned. She held ‘only’ one finger in the air, later telling me, she didn’t think it was possible to vote ‘zero’, even though two of her friends were in the same space, openly declaring dissent.

I think I was triggered by her way of seeking acceptance and denying own needs, projecting the same reality on me, an external as well as internalized reality I’m desperately trying to escape. Today I would have been able to hear her out differently. I just recently moved in with a friend after having been homeless for about a year and half. We have together been dealing with our fears and traumas. [up until now both of us surviving this existence instead of ‘living’ it..] It’s a process in its beginnings, but I keep thinking “What if..” What if she would have taken up my friend on her offer, 2 months ago, and moved in with us for a while? What if.. I’m sure quite a few persons are having these same thoughts. Memories flashing by: What could I have done differently? As well as – What can I celebrate in having shared with her?

My friend saw the message about her death on Juk’s facebook wall, then it took a few more days to get more information of what had happened. The first day I heard about it I did a quick search on the internet and found a petition that Juk had been writing this summer.

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Click here for a full screenshot (with more info) of the page where I read her petition . Click here for the English translation [hasn’t arrived, I will put it here as soon as I get it]

Backstory: She lived in Polvela, in Eastern Finland. Apparently there was an argument with some neighbour about noise levels, which escalated and got out of hand, she was destroying the door of the neighbour – and for this she ended up in a mental institution for 2 months. [for what reason?] She was forced into isolation, having her freedom taken away, having her right over what she takes inside her body taken away. She clearly articulated the reasons for why the forced ‘care’ she got wasn’t doing her any well – and as well stating that, in fact, it was harming her.

This is a letter she wrote to a friend while she was undergoing this ‘treatment’. It’s the last letter to this particular person. The friend didn’t become aware of the petition (her situation) until after her death.

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Click here to read a plain text version of the letter. Click here for the English translation [hasn’t arrived, I will put it here as soon as I get it]

It is painful today to read this toned down version of her suffering. No desperate calls for help, just short understatements and expressions of love and admiration.

This is not only ‘society’ or ‘family’ failing, but as well the self-chosen ‘community’ around her, where everyone is so busy changing the world – or coping with their own lives – that they forget [or: in denial or out of fear avoid] to care for one another. Trauma and un-healed aching wounds become a part of who and how we are, and interact. Each one by themselves, fending off the difficult relations around them, making space to lick the scars and oozing sores in solitude, where we don’t need to fight our loved ones. This self-protection works well for most of us, it makes the pain bearable. It’s only when it becomes acute that the flaws of this system come across. Everyone used to living with so much pain, that we’ve become numb to the needs in others. When someone has come to a point beyond self-‘healing’, where she no longer trusts that she’s worth any kindness, then staying in solitude has become a caging habit from where it’s hard to reach out for help – she’s come to the point where asking for help is too painful: And suicide has become the only plausible option. A way out from the pain. For some persons it comes slowly, for example through alcohol, drugs or self-starvation, for others it’s more direct.

Her death was nasty. A young woman in despair about the violence directed towards her. Leaving a letter in the house of her parents, describing the place where she would be found, and telling them not to feel guilty about her death, and then going to a spot in the forest — I don’t know what she did to herself, but — rather quietly ending her life, than wanting to disturb the living souls around her, too used to the response being more violence, denial or indifference to the hurt done.

I am with Juk on that we don’t have to wallow in guilt over her death (What if.. Could have.. Should have..) but I would, from her writings, like to carefully draw the lines of her hand reaching out to us, asking us to consider a change. We don’t have to act this way. There is no need for us to continue in the same way. There is a great need for us to try something different – to become just as intuitive, expressive, spontaneous, sincere and searching as she was. These traits that got her labeled ‘crazy’ in a truly sick mental ‘health’ system in need of some serious care. And the traits that got her labeled ‘fucking hippie’ and threatened with violence in the social center scene — When she tried to do something about it, and brought the problem to a house meeting, she was told that it was her personal problem. I don’t know about her other networks, but she’s clearly expressing in her letter that she has a need for respect and to be taken seriously, and that the places where she experiences to have these needs met are very few. She sees the need for creating a space like that.

There was nothing wrong with her. She thought out-of-the-box, different from the norm. She acted in a non-conformative way. She had a low self-esteem. She suffered from trauma and depression – as a lot of us do. The ‘medication’ (drugs) and isolation she received from the system made her worse. She longed for acceptance. She was in need of kindness and care [comforting] – what she received is clearly described in her self-written petition. She was sane enough to recognize that something wasn’t right – with exact words saying what she wanted and didn’t want, and how the ‘treatment’ was affecting her. Her suicide was a fairly normal response to the traumatic experiences she lived through this summer, in combination with not experiencing that there was any safe space for her to return to.

Her death is political on many levels. I refuse to turn this into a ‘one single disturbed individual’ issue. This concerns all of us. This post is dedicated to Kati / Ronja / Juk – the reason why I today say and think ‘she‘ differently. I noticed after her death that she had tried to get in touch with me two months before [fuck..] I didn’t get to talk with her or see her, so this is support expressed In loving memory.

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“The only dream worth having is to dream that you will live while
you are alive, and die only when you are dead. To love, to be loved.
To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the
unspeakable violence and vulgar disparity of the life around you.
To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair.
To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple.
To respect strength, never power. Above all to watch. To try and understand.
To never look away. And never, never to forget.”
– Arundhati Roy

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Song: Keep On Livin’ – Le Tigre

If you’re thinking of Suicide / What can I do to help?

Mental Health Matters. Activist Trauma Support

Online resources in Finland. Violence against women: Family, Community, Society

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Some of Juk’s writings / thoughts / expression:

http://piiri.nettisivu.org/

http://ronjanpolku.blogspot.com/

http://savagemeetskeypad.blogspot.com/

http://www.silmatlaulavathiljaisuuden.blogspot.com/

More persons writing about her here:

http://jukvanska.tumblr.com/post/1598880128/memorial-page

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Comparing her last letter with a card she wrote to a friend before she started getting ‘treatment’. Front covered with writings in black. On the back, many layers of writing, in different colors [some of it is really light, and doesn’t show in the scanned version], bubbling, bursting with thoughts and feelings, asking herself “Wonder if I write any different than I speak?”. This was when she was Kati, and to answer that question I would, definitely, say that she wrote as she spoke. (Which makes reading the latter letter, disturbing)

From the card she wrote to a friend:

”WHATEVER WORDS I SAY

However far away

However long I stay

<The Cure>”

Love song

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The Thud Experiment and Modern Day Psychiatry:

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The Human Evasion
by Celia Green

  1. Sanity
  2. The Characteristics of Sanity
  3. The Genesis of Sanity
  4. The Society of the Sane
  5. How To Write Sane Books
  6. The Sane Person Talks of Existence
  7. The Sane Person Talks of God
  8. The Religion of Evasion
  9. The Philosophy of Evasion
  10. The Science of Evasion
  11. The Alternative to Sanity: What Would It Be Like?
  12. Christ
  13. Nietzsche
  14. Why The World Will Remain Sane
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Nonviolent Communication -NVC- practice group, Helsinki

by Milla — she=he

If you search for “Helsinki NVC-group” on Facebook you will get to this:

Non-violent communication practice group (in English) in the Helsinki area. No previous experience needed 🙂

You can borrow books [in English, Finnish, Swedish] from other members of this network, such as:

—  We Can Work It Out: Resolving Conflicts Peacefully and Powerfully (M. Rosenberg)  —  Getting Past the Pain Between Us: Healing and Reconciliation Without Compromise (M. Rosenberg)  —  The Surprising Purpose of Anger: Beyond Anger Management, Finding the Gift (M. Rosenberg) ..and a few more 🙂

UPDATE -New TIME, New Address !!!
The next practice session will take place December 11th, 12 o’clock
Address: In Kallio (contact Enni — elepalko at hotmail dot com for more information) ..

Suggestions made for how the group could work made at the last meeting:

ROTATING FACILITATION: People who go to the meetings on a regular basis share the task of keeping the meeting smooth and focused. Each time a different person take on the role of facilitator.

The tasks of the facilitator:
1.Share information on the upcoming meeting (Time, Place, Any specific topics) on Facebook, emails etc
2.When new people at the meeting: (if needed) Give a short introduction to nvc, (always) Explain the meeting structure
3.Moves the meeting forward, Cares for speaking turn, Cares for time [or asks for others to care for the different tasks]

[ask any questions you have on the different tasks, at the meeting, if you’re not sure what do do]

People who drop by now and then for trainings do not need to fear any expectations to take on this task, but are welcome to it if they so wish.

MEETING STRUCTURE:

Beginning round 1: Feelings, needs at the moment? Anything you need to feel safe in the group?

Beginning round 2: Expectations? What do you wish to practice?

:: PRACTICE

Break: Where it’s possible to relax and chat about whatever and be ‘un’-nvc

:: PRACTICE

Ending round 1: Reflection on triggering interaction / situations in the group. Did something someone said/did – didn’t say/do trigger feelings and needs? Some other stimulus triggering feelings and needs? Requests?

Ending round 2: Feelings needs met? Goals/Expectations achieved? Feedback? Suggestions for what to focus on next time?

Practical: Next meeting? Who facilitates?

NVC Practical Workshop (Notes day 2 of 2)

by Milla — she=he

These are notes from a 2 day practical workshop on Nonviolent Communication, jotted down with the hopes of others interested in learning, to make use of the material presented here 🙂 The notes can also be downloaded as pdf files: Saturday, Sunday

When i read the following expression of gratitude, i felt delighted since it met a deep longing for recognition in me 🙂

“hi MIlla,

great thanks to you!
your minutes has been so acurate, they are very helpful for me,  to remind myself  much much better of many things and learnings that took place in the workshop.
I am amazed about your ability to listen, to write down and  at the same time to process and reflect all that was happening in the workshop. all at the same time!
best regards!”

Songs: ‘it’s a sad and scary scene with no grace at all‘, ‘to call for hands up above to lean on wouldn’t be good enough for me‘, kärlekens alla färjor

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NVC -nonviolent communication- workshop, Helsinki Buddhist Center, Sunday 24.10.2010

10 persons present.

[NOTE: I’ve rearranged the order of some comments in hopes to achieve more clarity in this text. We took / were given longer time for discussions this day, and there was mostly a random / free flow in the talks. There was both laughter and tears expressed with the different reflections shared in the group. The ‘quotes’ in the text are not necessarily word by word what people actually said. This is written through the filter that is me.]

We started the day by sitting in a circle. At some point the facilitator asked if there was something someone would like to say, or if we could start with the exercises.

I expressed that I had felt disconnected and unsafe with how the day had ended the day before. We had been asked what we had learnt and what needs of ours had been met, and then a handful of persons spoke in random order. I said that I would have wanted to hear more experiences expressed, as well as wanting reassurance that everyone will get a space to speak, and that I would feel safer with a clear transparent structure, for instance a go-round, where everybody takes turns speaking, this way my needs for inclusion and learning would be met.

I was asked if I had a request, and I said that I would like for the day to end with a go-round. After this we spent some minutes trying to find out how to get this done — the facilitator said that her reason for not having a go-round was that people could speak with a different flow, I suggested that people could be encouraged with words to take space, or using a talking stick in the middle that people pick up in random order; someone expressed that they wouldn’t like to get up and go to the middle of the circle to pick up the stick [something soft can also be used as a talking stick and thrown between participants]; someone else said that they wouldn’t want to have people speaking for a really long stretch of time – and I ended up checking if anybody would have any (strong) objections to ending the day with a go-round, where everybody takes turns speaking – no talking stick – and people skipping their turn if they wanted, with the possibility to add something later – and as well that people would keep it ‘short’ ie not speak for 10 minutes. — I felt stressed and scared in this process, and am not sure if I remembered to ask if everybody had understood the suggestion.

There seemed to be a general agreement to finish with a round, but still it felt really scary and unsafe to express this openly, somehow I felt insecure and confused about what was going on. I would have liked a clearer idea for common interaction in the space, and how to make decisions together. I was afraid of internalized roles and invisible hierarchies in the group. I would also have liked to talk about how to feel safe (everyone being asked: “What do you need to feel safe in this group?”) and as well express impressions of one another’s (triggering) behaviors and (triggering) situations within the group openly, dealing with the ‘conflicts’ in the space. I made a compromise when asked what to request, because of fear of ‘conflict’ and/or getting as a response: “We don’t have time” and/or taking on more responsibility and giving more energy than I wished for, in explaining why I felt unsafe and would like to have things done differently. I was dealing with some heavy emotional processes – my mind shattered and scattered, as well as being in a physically shaky condition. So – I silenced myself. (Needs: Ease, Safety, Understanding)


EXERCISE 1: Meditating on labels – Arranging a staff-party


We split into two groups and the facilitator put post-it notes on our foreheads with labels on them. We didn’t see our own label, and we were asked to act as if the labels of the others were true. The setting given to us was a group planning a staff-party.

My group had: Kind, Dominant, Lazy, Arrogant and Stupid. We pretty quickly became severely dysfunctional and disconnected. Some of us were openly bullying the others. Others were withdrawing and expressing despair. I noticed with myself that I was trying to figure out my own role and what was expected of me. At one point I came with a harsh comment and one of the participants started saying: “But you’re supposed to be..!” After which I felt really insecure about saying anything, with the fear of disappointing others, so I turned from bullying to silent by-standing, wordlessly colluding with the violent atmosphere of the group, not saying anything anymore.

I had had “kind” on my forehead which I experienced as some sort of ‘high-status’ label in my group, since no-one interrupted me and I got attention when I was speaking. There was a person in the other group who had had “kind” as well, and she had ended up being over-burdened with tasks by the others.

After the exercise we got together in a large group. The facilitator started a feedback-round by saying that labels are powerful – “in Rwanda, having ‘Tutsi’ on the forehead, meant ‘killing one’s own child’.” We kept the labels on our foreheads when talking through our experiences, and took it off and had a look at it after we had shared our experience with the others.

Someone with the label “intelligent”, couldn’t guess her label, but had experienced exclusion, saying that just a hint of exclusion triggers strong feelings. She expressed it as having been put on a pedestal, and set aside from the others. “Intelligent” had not been useful in a group with Kind, Generous, Lazy.

Also ‘positive’ labels –expectations from oneself and/or others– can be experienced as barriers for connection.

We were asked to reflect on labels such as “child”, “man”, “woman” – things we might not usually think of as labels – and how they affect our interaction with others.

A person with “lazy” on the forehead, had experienced being labeled this way as frustrating, uncomfortable and sad, and was as well guessing that the label was “lazy”. A person who had been labeled “stupid” expressed that the exercise had really hit the mark, and that it would be useful to do it in groups with people working / making things together. She said that she had been really triggered by the group interaction and how people related to her, since she had experiences of being treated this way and had seen this type of interaction in ‘real’ life. During the exercise she had also been asking herself questions such as: “What’s my role? How should I act?” People were asked if they could relate to feeling like this in groups: “What’s going on?”

A person labeled “arrogant” expressed wishes to have had more comments on her role, so she would have known what she was from the others. Someone said that they interacted with “arrogant” as in ‘real’ life, where they would not engage with someone they label that way, cause “someone like that wouldn’t listen anyways, so it’s not worth it”. Someone was saying that there was no need to give clues to the person labeled “arrogant”, since she was already acting out “arrogant”. The facilitator was asking for an observation (“What did the camera see?”) and the person said that “arrogant” was ‘all the time‘ making comments on what the other group members were saying (the facilitator added: So ‘ten times‘ “arrogant” made comments on what the others were saying?) and that she had experienced it as really uncomfortable when “arrogant” had changed places in the circle and sat next to another member of the group and started whispering to that person. She said that this behavior made her feel excluded. The facilitator said that a person hearing that (‘excluded’) wouldn’t necessarily understand / connect with this: “I don’t understand what you mean, I didn’t exclude”. It was said that ‘exclude’ would be experienced as a label. The facilitator asked again: “What did you feel?” and the person responded: “I felt unsafe”. The facilitator said that this feeling is easier to connect with. The person responded that it’s difficult to talk about these things in groups, since it just doesn’t exist as a part of most people’s ‘reality’. She was comparing it to saying: “When you moved your coffee-cup next to the flower pot, I felt unsafe”, it just wouldn’t make sense to the other person. The facilitator suggested to give the back-story, to say that “I’ve been to meetings where this has happened many times”.

We were encouraged not to try to stop labeling people – but instead to have the awareness of that, and when, and why we do this. Labels were described as “compressed, packed life”. “What is the ‘life’ packed in the static idea / label, often manifested as ‘stiffness’ in the body?” An example sentence of this was given: I feel insecure when I’m around you, I start losing myself, I don’t know what I want – “you’re manipulative”.

Someone said that labeling was used as a form of ‘mapping’ when meeting persons, the labels come immediately. It was said that labeling, takes care of the need for safety.

Another person was saying that she could use labels as a form of ‘manipulation’, for instance if she would experience fear of having a meeting with a person and how this meeting would turn out, that if she would think of the person as ‘kind’ or that the meeting would be (for example) ‘satisfying’ and ‘safe’, that this would help in easing out fears.

It was said that labels prevent connection – they prevent persons from feeling seen and heard.

Someone asked if we had heard of Enneagrams – describing a limited amount of ‘personality-types’ – different categories that we can fit into. I mentioned horoscopes as another example of this – how people want to label themselves: “Who am I? How am I?” A continuation of this association chain: Tests in women’s magazines: “What type of girlfriend am I?” Someone added: Facebook applications. For example: “What type of dictator am I?”

When we broke off the conversation for snacks, someone looked up from a note-book and quoted Albert Camus: “Until a person has been seen and blessed by another person she does not yet fully exist.” — And then saying: “This is so true”.

Snack break —-

Listed on the flip-chart board was something similar to this:

To think about when making Requests:

    Working on the Connection: 

    1. How is it for you to hear this? (asking a person to go on holidays with you)

    2. Can you tell what you heard me say? (“cause the idea of going on a holiday with you makes me really happy. So I would like to know how/that you received the message”)

If the connection feels okay move straight to Action:

     

    Working on the Action:

    – what?

    – when?

    – yes or no NOW! (you want to know TODAY / NOW if the other will get some oat-milk for breakfast tomorrow)

[Here I lost concentration a bit, and I didn’t ask any clarifying questions in relation to this part, which I think might have something to do with the confusion I experienced in the following exercise.]

EXERCISE 2: Role-play – Asking, Waiting for favors from God

We were asked to pretend that we have a need – (“what did it feel like when needing support”)what to ask for? We thought about this for a while. Then we were asked to speak with “god” [the facilitator].

People sat in a circle and asked God for support. God retorted with “How would you feel supported? What concrete action would help?”

Someone was asking for support with teenagers. Couldn’t really get to a concrete request, and experienced that there was support in simply being asked those questions.

Someone asked for “2 more hours” to be able to read a text. God continued asking how this would happen, and then if there was something else than 2 hours that would help. The following request was to “Give strength and no headache.” God asked how this would be done with concrete actions, the reply to this was for God to give strength like “this” [the person making some movements with their hands]. God repeated the movements and said: Does this help? (someone said that “the task would be easy if it were a god.” The facilitator responded that she had a good reason for wanting to be god in this exercise).

The repeated questions from god was: what would help? – how could I do that?

Someone asked for support in staying present when speaking with their sister. This conversation continued for some time.

After a while God/The facilitator was asking: – Why do you ask me? When there are so many other people in here? (the response from someone in the group was: “Cause you’re god”)

The person asking for support was asking: “Are there others that can identify with difficulties with staying present in difficult situations?” Others nod.

The person continues checking: “How did you hear this request?”

Someone responds: “I didn’t hear a request, you were asking if someone could identify with this situation, and the others said yes.”

There was -to me- an unclear (to me: unsafe) process of getting to a clear request. The facilitator asked the person to ask the other participants for help in how to stay present in a difficult situation.

  • The facilitator offered to have a conversation about / to work this over, during lunch – (others asked if it was okay to be present, and the response to that was yes)
  • Someone was saying: “Breathe,” that focus on / awareness of breathing can help a person becoming more present.
  • I was saying that I haven’t been able to work on these issues / difficult situations with the help of others, and that there are on-line self-empathy exercises that are possible to go through before engaging with the difficult situation/relation – I said that self-empathy before meeting with the person would be a way to be able to stay more present. https://sosiaalikeskus.wordpress.com/2010/06/28/nvc-self-empathy-exercise/

The facilitator went on to explain the exercise, and the reason for wanting to be god. It “scares, pains worries me, when I hear people waiting for something or somebody else to make something happen.” She wanted to shed light on the myth of someone else fixing our lives, (“expecting miracles”) waiting for things to happen. Another reason for being god was to awake the imagination.

Someone expressed their doubt in humanity. The cultural idea of human beings: “We’re egotistic, lazy, don’t care about others.”

So it can be good to ask god. Starting with ‘thinking big’. Asking god for Wisdom or Love, cause “people won’t give love and can’t give wisdom”. And then try to work out concretely what this ‘wisdom’ or ‘love’ could be.

Someone shared their thoughts during the exercise about wanting phone numbers from some people, and that it wouldn’t make sense for her to ask god for this. And then she thought about what she could ask from god in relation to that, and figured she could ask for Courage. But how this courage would be made concrete, was difficult to imagine.

EXERCISE 3: Playing a game – Trying to get what you want by asking for what you DON’T want

The facilitator asked for a volunteer. The person was asked to leave the room. The rest of the group were asked to make this person do something (“what do we want this person to do?”) and we were told to make the person do this by telling the person what NOT to do.

The group decided: Standing on one leg singing.

The volunteer was asked back in, and the group started speaking “Don’t sit down. Don’t stand on your both feet. Don’t sit!! Don’t lie down. Don’t speak with your normal voice. Don’t speak. But don’t be silent either.” And so on. Finally the person managed to do as we had decided. The group applauded.

The volunteer was asked how they had experienced this. They had felt safe during the exercise, there was trust in the group.

The facilitator said that we speak with children, dogs, and other beings with labels of ‘not being intelligent’ in this way.

When talking about this, it was said that it’s fairly common to say what we don’t want, instead of what we want – with the expectation of the person behaving in a way that is wished for. – It’s not clear that the person would understand what’s wanted when communicating in this way.

The facilitator went on with suggesting that we’d get into smaller groups and do an exercise: A Yes and No game. (Or Yes in the No?) We were asked to find and express the ‘yes’ in a ‘no’. There was a discussion erupting from this, many questions on what this would mean [I visited the toilet, and when I came back, there was still a discussion going on in a large group. Once again, I did not ask any clarifying questions, maybe expecting to catch up at some point. Anyhow: We did not go into smaller groups, and the discussion ended. I’m assuming that the game would have something to do with the previous exercise, and that we were supposed to practice how to clearly express what we DO want instead of what we DON’T want – a ‘shortcut’ to having our needs cared for and making our lives more wonderful.]

There was a comment made, that an example on a dialogue (role-play with a participant) with the facilitator, about saying no, while staying connected with the needs of oneself, as well as the needs of the other, and continuously looking for something that would fit the needs of both, would simply not work when speaking in ‘real’ life with a partner.

One person asked the facilitator for advice on how to stay present in a difficult situation like that. The facilitator gave two examples that she uses.

HOW TO STAY PRESENT:

  1. Imagine a big space on your side where all ‘jackal’ and other thoughts can be dumped (“I get TERRIFIED”; “You’re an IDIOT”). Don’t try to stop it, let it come but leave it on the side.
  2. Imagine a road in your head where there’s a green light for all the ‘jackal’ thoughts to pass through (“She should go kill herself”; “I should kill myself”; “Everybody should die”).

Sometimes the space shrinks and then it becomes about (or feels like it’s about) ‘life and death’. But it’s about making a choice about how we want to be in the world.

EXERCISE 4: Five columns – Listing Labels + OFNR

We were instructed to make five columns on a piece of paper: One for “Labels” and the other 4 for “Observations”, “Feelings”, “Needs”, “Requests”. We were told to do this exercise for ourselves and not to show it to the person we’re labeling, in order to ‘protect’ the person who you’re talking about, since words can have a huge impact, and we don’t necessarily have the power to repair or fix damage done.

We were told to choose a person we have labels on, making it difficult to connect with them, and then write all the labels in the first column. In the second column we write an observation (“What has this person done or said that stimulated this idea?”) Then move on to feelings and needs in relation to the observations – and finally a request.

Someone was expressing fears of hearing a ‘no’: A ‘Quick Fix’ mentioned – “You’ve waited too long. Too many needs waiting.” In other words, it’s important to make more requests (continuously see to it that your own needs are met) in order to make it easier to hear a ‘no’.

We got into smaller groups of 2 or 3 to do role-plays with the ofnr.

Mine looked like this. I had put labels on myself:


Labels: Alcoholic, Mentally ill, Depressed, Frustrated, Irresponsible, Uncaring, Self-hater, Megalomania, Repressed, Unhealthy, Lonely [some feelings listed in there as ‘labels’ as well..]

Observations: Getting drunk. Drinking in spite of knowing that “one glass is too many, a hundred too few”. Writing messages on facebook, not remembering the day after.

Feelings: Sadness, Loneliness, Afraid, Disturbed, Ashamed, Exhausted, Bored

Needs: Order, Safety, Food, Rest, Justice, Trust, Stability, Connection, Harmony, Recognition, Community, Consistency, Meaning

Requests: [empty]

I was talking with a person who pointed out that my body posture was ‘cramped up’, and that one way of feeling better could be to notice this and then to change into the posture I have when I feel okay, that this might affect me in a positive way.

I also managed to work out a concrete request on my ofnr – which was to start writing in the ‘gratitude book’ [an empty note book] I got this summer, in order to shift focus / my mind / energy on the things I – at least intellectually, not yet on an emotional level – understand as contributing to my well-being at the current moment. Not just paying attention to what I would like to change, or feel unhappy, sad and angry about.

Lunch break —-

We were asked: “Can anybody relate to the pain of not being needed, of not being able to contribute?” People raised their hands. We were then told that this is a way for us to realize “How you can contribute, by asking people to contribute to you.”

We had a short Opinion Poll on how to continue the afternoon, to see where our interests were:

We were asked to raise our hands —

  • Who feels interested in forgiving yourself?
  • To look more into your reactions when people tell you things?
  • Dealing with shame, guilt?
  • Nourishing your relationships?

Most of us seemed interested in all of the topics, and in the end, the facilitator suggested to:

  1. Say something short (10 minutes) about reactions when listening to others, and show us an exercise we could do at home in relation to that.
  2. Use the rest of the time for nourishing relationships.

And after a short discussion / disagreement, this is what we did.

EXERCISE 5: How to check your reactions when listening to others


AT HOME: Write the different ways of reacting on papers, and put them on the floor. For example: Giving advice – Fixing – Telling your own story – Taking away the pain in the other person or whatever your reaction is (more reactions are listed in the book by M. Rosenberg – Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life). To save time, 5 different options were put on the floor when showing how to do the exercise.

Ask somebody to be the person that you’re listening to – for instance:

A brother who is saying: “Well, I don’t want to have anything to do with the child, you know.”

Concentrate on your own reactions: In this case — fixing the situation in combination with running away from the pain. “So I really want to fix this now — what am I needing?” Connect with the need behind ‘fixing’ – “I’m desperate actually.. for.. for more support”.

Another example – a mother: “My back is still hurting after 35 years”

Reaction: “ I don’t want to hear it…” – lid on. “I feel helpless. Totally helpless. – It’s grieving. I need to really grieve all this pain.”

Next time, meeting with the person might be easier after doing this exercise.

In relation to ‘giving advice‘ – when wanting to give advice to make sure to check that it’s really wanted: “Mom I’m really eager to give you an advice, would you be ready to hear it? – Are you sure? – Okay..”

I had told the other participants of a blog that I could share a link to, with a compilation of the Do’s and Don’ts of practicing nvc – listing some of the typical responses to watch out for when giving empathy:

http://williamahuston.blogspot.com/2008/08/what-nvc-isnt-compiled-by-bill-huston.html

EXERCISE 6: Nourishing the relationships

The facilitator requested for 2-3 persons to explain why they wanted this topic.

  • To take on positive energy
  • It’s not growing from a problem
  • Wanting to express my needs in a way that is soft and causing as little conflict as possible (practicing how to get the message across in a way that is clear to the other – in a non-threatening way)

Some tanks / containers had been drawn on the flip-chart board. It was said that we nourish ourselves by giving and receiving gratitude, we fill up our tanks with gratitude. It was also said that it can be painful to receive gratitude.

An example of this was for example expressing to someone’s mother how much it means to them that regardless of the different circumstances when growing up she still managed to fix food, clean clothes etc – It’s difficult for the mother to receive this gratitude.

Someone mentioned the Finnish idiomatic expression: ‘Kissa se kiitoksella elää’ – [the cat lives on gratitude] apparently a depreciation of expressing gratitude, and that money is preferred to a “thanks”.

Someone mentioned that in according to some cultures in India, thanking a family member would be the same as not including that person as a part of the family. Family need not be thanked.

And we moved along with this:

Amongst many thousand things, there are 3 things that can help us nourish our relationships.

  • How can I make your life more wonderful?
  • Celebrating the needs that are met.
  • Making requests that make your life more wonderful.

Another example was given of how vulnerable this can be – with a partner who’d just gone to bed: Someone asking “How can I make your life more wonderful?” and the reply being “Oh no, it’s perfect, there’s nothing you can do.” Somehow there’s too much shame to ask for anything. So this person went on thinking that the partner is really tired and that they usually like it when they’re held. So she went on asking: “Are you really tired now, and would you love for me to hold you until you fall asleep?” This exchange lead to a strong reaction / denial, and nowadays they joke about it.

THE EXERCISE: Take a moment with yourself and think about either something someone has done, or some kind of gratitude that you’d like to hear from whoever it is: partner, family etc.

  • What kind of gratitude would make you dance with joy?
  • Or: What kind of gratitude would you like to deliver that would make you dance with joy?

When the facilitator asked the group to share what they had thought of, there was a pause for a couple of minutes, where no-one took the initiative to say anything. Someone said that it felt strange saying it out loud. Finally someone shared gratitude over someone showing willingness to return to discussing conflicts, in spite of going away – leaving the room, but always returning. This met a need for safety. This was role-played in the large group with someone acting as the person receiving gratitude.

Another person expressed gratitude to a workmate supporting them (the facilitator asked if the person could remember what the workmate did, and the reply was “offered help”).

Someone was talking about a relationship and saying that it “feels selfish asking for gratitude” when suggested to ask the other person what needs had been met in the relation. The person playing the other person suggested to ask for this in ‘real’ life. The response was that it already in the role-play felt like walking on 3mm thin ice and then being asked to take a step forward. Too scary.

We continued with this for a while. Then we talked about practical things. Checking who would be interested in having nvc practice meetings in Helsinki, and possibly arranging another course next year, as well as collecting emails to share info and these notes with the people participating.

And then we had a finishing round where we were encouraged to express gratitude to one another. I felt happy (relief, joy) in expressing gratitude to a person expressing worries in relation to differing opinions coming out the day before, and who had said that they had thought of not coming on the second day. I felt present, and ‘real’ when hearing this recognition of that group situations are always (always) full of pleasant / unpleasant / triggering interaction, since my own experience during the weekend had been a strong feeling of unsafety and disconnection in the group (this doesn’t mean that there were no enjoyable moments – just that the underlying needs for safety and connection was ‘screaming’ in me). I also expressed gratitude to the person taking initiative to arranging the course, and to the facilitator spending time and energy, doing this workshop / sharing skills with us over the weekend, as well as everybody taking part in it and sharing of themselves.

There were many other things said. But I will end it here.

After the circle of gratitude / feedback-round. I said that I would send the notes from the workshop to the others within a week, and I asked for others to comment on sentences they – for whatever reason – wouldn’t like to share on a blog I was planning on publishing this text on. It was decided that I would wait for this type of feedback for 2 weeks, and then publish the notes.

END OF DAY 2.

NVC Practical Workshop (Notes day 1 of 2)

by Milla — she=he

These are notes from a 2 day practical workshop on Nonviolent Communication, jotted down with the hopes of others interested in learning, to make use of the material presented here 🙂 The notes can also be downloaded as pdf files: Saturday, Sunday

Songs: murder on the dancefloor, om du möter varg


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NVC -nonviolent communication- workshop, Helsinki Buddhist Center, Saturday 23.10.2010

10 persons present.

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The person facilitating the course had just finished a book on nvc and money, and she was very happy about being and connecting with people instead of being alone, writing, and feeling angry about things.

She has been practicing and teaching nvc for 5 years.

On a flip chart board was a draft for a program:

10.00 Start

11.30 Coffee break

13.00 Lunch

15.30 Coffee break

17.00 Finish

Saturday focus on Empathy

Sunday focus on Honesty

We started with a go-round, sitting in a circle, taking turns saying: Name – how you feel sitting here right now – if you have any previous experience of nvc (to know what type of language to use, if everyone is aware of who Marshall Rosenberg, the originator of the method, is for example).

EXERCISE 1: Why and how do we communicate

We sat down in smaller groups of 2 or 3. Four flip chart papers were placed on the ground and we were asked 3 questions about communication. We had about 3 minutes to talk about and write a few words on each question, and with every new question one person was left alone by the paper, and was given about one minute to update the new person/s coming over, on what had been said before.

First question: What do you find is working well for you when it comes to communication? What do you feel happy with when it comes to communication? What do you celebrate about your communication?

Second question: What do you find challenging about communicating? What is difficult, what challenges you when it comes to communicating?

Third question: What motivated you to come here? Imagine having a motor – what drove you to come here? What is the motivation for you?

After the exercise we were encouraged to stick with what we set out for – the papers were put on the floor, in a corner, so people could check if they’d been dealing with the things that are difficult for them etc.

4 PAPER Sheets with rotating groups of 2-3 persons speaking about communication:

What works fine with communication? — encountering people (connect) — openness Challenging — hard to stay in connection with myself in a conflict situation — how to stay in connection automatically — how to be honest without hurting anybody’s feelings (myself included) — how to ask so that the other person doesn’t hear it as a demand What motivated you to come here? — to meet new people interested in NVC — english — to help myself in conflict situations and other people also — desperation — to learn to be more effective in conflict situations — community on earth and global peace.

You are happy with communications — when there is (good) communications with another, when I am not expecting/demanding anything from another — when I notice I can really hear and be present to myself + the person — happy to feel clarity and ease — when the person hears and understands me, my feelings, needs — empathy, person stays silent while you talk, trust, listens with open mind What you find challenging with communications — trust in / other stays open and listens — interrupts, analyzes, decided already — difficult to express my jackal message — the more close person, the more difficult What motivated you to come — suffering, me and others — practicing — to be a better person everywhere

What is helpful with communication — openness — making effort — reflection — willingness to find solutions — honesty — encouragement — exciting to understand, curiosity What challenges are there in communication? — honesty brings up conflicts — repetition, boredom — communicate in a soft way while being honest What motivated / drove you to come here — self-empathy in difficult situations — honesty (brings up conflicts)

being heard — quiet listening — trust — patience with listening your/someone’s pain — empathy — open mindedness — giving time What is challenging with communication? — finding a person + time — following your own story What motivated you to come here? — yhteys saman henkisiä — teot — harjoittelu — oppia tarpeiden ilmaisemista [some sort of translation: contact with like-minded — actions / tasks — practice — learning to express needs]

EXERCISE 2: Caring for our needs

We were told to imagine that it’s five o’clock on sunday – and asked to think of two needs that mainly had been fulfilled.

Some of us listed the needs on a paper, that was then hung by the window, as a reminder to check now and then, to see if we were meeting these needs. We were also encouraged to ask for help to meet the needs.

1 PAPER Sheet with 2 needs met 5 PM SUNDAY:

support and openness (food) — learning and celebration; self-development, to serve life — clarity and capacity — to be capable to be connected with myself in a conflict; to be capable to express myself so clear that the other person hears my askings as askings and not as demands — self-development/ in order to cope with my feelings & jackal ideas in difficult situations — challenges (intellectual stimulation, self-development); a sense of intimacy / openness / being ‘real’ — to know how to process reactions so I can have power within myself to become better of it; to be able to help others too, if possible, in real time — understandable expression of & time and trust for own needs / work role

Snack break —-

Shortly on some things said: How do we relate to the fact that we have a need? Some of the needs listed on the flip-chart paper were read out loud: clarity, support, challenges, connection, to serve life.

It helps us to have attention on: What stimulates needs in me? What can I ask for when I lose hope? If I think or hear someone else say: “Everything is going to hell anyways” – What to ask for in order to get hope? Something to have attention on in general as a practitioner of nvc – not just during the course, but in life in general.

Someone said as a feedback to the previous exercise that it’s easier to see the challenges, than to see the needs, that it’s difficult to figure out what needs there are.

EXERCISE 3: 4 options when hearing a message

We did an exercise called ‘4 chairs’. In this case ‘4 cushions’ since we were in a meditation hall.

There were four cushions placed in a row, representing the 4 choices we have when hearing any statement, including ‘neutral’ remarks, or for example:

“You are an idiot.” (judgment / punishment)

“You are so good.” (judgment / reward)

We can when we hear something like this, choose:

  1. Blaming / judging somebody else (‘jackal’ outwards)
  2. Blaming / judging myself (‘jackal’ inwards)
  3. Empathy – Listening for feelings and needs
  4. Honesty – Expressing feelings and needs

[‘jackal’ = expression not translated into feelings and needs]

The facilitator asked for someone to say a phrase that is challenging for them to hear. One person repeated this sentence 4 times:

“It’s just not possible to do it that way”

The 4 responses were:

1. I think you’re foolish to believe that it’s not possible.

2. Maybe I should have realized that earlier, actually.

3. Is it that you’re worried and you want more security?

4. When you say that, I feel a bit worried and I would want to know more about why you say that. (need: Clarity)


We were asked if there were any questions about the exercise. Then we repeated the exercise, once all together, and then in smaller groups – with each of us trying out the different responses Blaming (outwards/inwards) or Empathizing (outwards/inwards) in response to one person repeating a challenging phrase. We rotated seats every time someone had repeated their phrase four times and listened through the four responses.

Useful to think about when doing this exercise: Where do we go usually – what’s the usual response – what’s our usual ‘cushion’?

Feedback after doing the exercise: It felt confusing going to feelings and needs. A list of feelings and needs, might have helped. Someone suggested adding a 5th chair to the exercise: Sitting in silence – too confused and hurt to respond. Or leaving.

It was emphasized that the ‘jackal’ seats are our ‘best friends’ – it’s good to care for that energy, and to transform the judgments into feelings and needs. To see the beauty (needs) in the judgments.

Someone added that anger is beautiful, it’s the opposite of depression, it pushes to action. Depression is like death.

EXERCISE 4: Working on challenging phrases, Practicing empathy

We were told that we would practice more empathy, and get to know our ‘jackals’, reflect on how we label other people, and when we give up.

We were asked to write down something that is challenging to hear, and that we want to practice how to connect with the person saying it. It could be an actual quote of what someone has said (a practice in making an observation) or an action – “somebody yawned when I was speaking.”

After that we spent 10 minutes in groups of three. All reading our sentences, trying to help one another in finding the feelings and needs behind the sentence.

In my group we worked with: Someone – for no apparent reason – being denied the support they needed and asked for. Someone having faced 6 months of silence from another person. I had a sentence that was “Your reality is distorted”. I experienced it as difficult figuring out feelings and needs.

ABOUT EMPATHY: an image of an iceberg was drawn on a flip-chart paper. The tip of the iceberg is what is being shown by the person saying “I’m really sick of my job” – the trick to stay connected with the person, is to empathize with the need that is alive at that moment, if you would say: “So you have a need for love?” – the response could be “Don’t be a psychologist!” We might talk about something that the person is not revealing yet – try instead to stay present with the person, ask if they’re wanting to be heard / to get support, and so on — do not talk about something that the person is not in touch with themselves.

EXERCISE 5: Role-play with challenging situations, Group practicing empathy

After this we sat in a large group and the facilitator – sitting next to the ice-berg – was acting out, role-playing, 5 challenging sentences / situations, and the whole group tried to empathize with what was alive / presently going on in the person. Occasionally she was pointing at the drawing and saying “this is somewhere here, below surface, I can’t connect with what you’re talking about” when we were guessing for feelings and needs in the person.

–CHALLENGING SITUATION 1:

Challenging situation/person [facilitator]: “I’m your superior, I’m in control here, you have nothing to say.”

needs: efficiency, security,

feelings: calm and sure about yourself. Self-confident, trusting yourself.

Challenging person/facilitator: “What do you want?”

Participant: “I want autonomy. I want to make my own decisions”.

Feelings and needs of the challenging person/facilitator: insecure, information (“I don’t understand” “I need more clarity.” “I want to understand more, you say you want to be a part of the decision process, and I would like to know what that would look like”.)

thoughts/fears of the challenging person/facilitator: “Will it be chaos? Will it be a revolution?”

Needs: security.

Facilitator saying to the participant: “Now a super clear request would help.”

Participant: “I want to be invited to the next meeting” (of the decision making group)

Talk in the group in relation to this role-play: When wanting to change something it helps to be clear about what we want (not vague – “wanting more inclusion”) I interjected shortly with my experience of clear requests not necessarily being helpful. Others added that there’s a strong culture of seeking and following authority in Finland, and that it might be different in Sweden. The facilitator laughed and said: “Well, let’s not get into that…”

–CHALLENGING SITUATION 2:

Someone was talking of frustrations in relation to how to agree on things in their common life with their intimate partner. The challenging sentence was: “This is not the right time to discuss”

Feelings of the challenging person/facilitator: Stressed. Worried, overwhelmed.

More feelings and Needs: Understanding. Trust that they can be heard, and acceptance for how challenging it is to just sit and hear that question / request (“We need to talk”). Scared to say no, scared to say yes. Fear of what might happen. Acceptance that we’re dealing with a difficult situation.

More situations: We also went through a person staying silent / out of touch for 6 months – a triggering sentence: “Your reality is distorted” – and another challenging sentence: “Your teacher is a fraud, and abuses people”.

Lunch break —-

A book in Swedish was recommended: Led som du lär [Lead the way you Teach/’Preach’] (Liv Larsson). Apart from sharing, practice to teach NVC. The book helps people to teach nvc. The same author has also finished a book called Relationsbesiktning. [Relationship Inspection – as in Car inspection] It’s practical advice on how to work on relationships (intimate/friend/work all types of relationships).

After these book-tips it was time to continue the exercises.

EXERCISE 6: Getting to know what hinders connection – Visiting Misery café

We were going to take part in an exercise dealing with typical ideas / expressions that hinders the connection more than supports. The energy behind is important to care for, but the way it comes out / is expressed, is useful to transform.

Papers were put on the floor in a circle, a “misery café”:

The different ‘cards’ we play while sitting around the table at ‘Café Misery’:

Judgments – Right/wrong Good/Bad; Blaming – Whose fault is it?; Deserve – Punishment/reward (“I didn’t deserve to be treated like that,” “You don’t deserve any attention,” “You don’t deserve dinner tonight” – The criminal legal system is built on this thinking. The intention behind is about wanting to change harmful behavior, but the practice doesn’t hit the mark); Denying choice – Can’t … Not allowed … Not possible (Bureaucratic language. Taking away responsibility for action. Used in concentration camps); Labels – I’m … You are … They are (“She is like that therefor I…” “You are so, that’s why I’m not going to…” = label + excuse. The well-meaning intention with labels is to simplify. The example “boyfriend” was used, instead of saying “It’s this person, a man, who lives in my house blah blah”); Threat – If you … If I … If they …; Demand – Must/have to/should (close to ‘denying choice’)

We were asked to get into two groups, and start by standing behind a random paper, discussing a theme. Examples for random themes mentioned by the facilitator: Finnish politicians. People who don’t pick up dog-poo. Mail man. Women. MacDonalds. In short, any theme was welcome.

One person starts by formulating something in line with the paper they’re behind. If the topic for example would be people who don’t pick up dog-poo, the discussion could look something like this:

Judgment: “Not much to talk about, it’s plain wrong not to pick it up” Blame: “It’s the parents fault” Denying choice: “There’s nothing we can do about this” Deserve, Demand: “We should ban dog-owners” Threat, Deserve: “If they don’t start doing something about it, maybe they should be punished with fines” Label: “Complete arrogant idiots” Deserve: “Try to reward them, five cents per dog-poo they pick up”

We were told to move along the papers, and try the different roles. “Ah I labeled.. what did this do with me?”. Try to see where we “fit”, what is our habitual way/s of expressing ourselves. Ask: “Where am I at home?”

Feedback after doing the exercise: Felt depressing. Losing connection.

The facilitator said that someone she knows has a mini-version of the misery café next to her phone, with a wooden piece she moves around – if she gets triggered during a conversation, she can help herself to see what is going on. And there’s a way out:


The 4 COMPONENTS of nvc – Observation, Feelings, Needs, Request (OFNR)

The facilitator was talking of observations – what is it that stimulated my reaction? And she was giving an example of how easy it is to mix evaluation with an observation, she was describing how she was washing clothes and reaching for the box of detergent: it felt light – the first thought that came to mind was that her boyfriend had forgotten to throw an empty box away. She went to speak with her boyfriend and started: “When I saw that you forgot…” the boyfriend replied: “I didn’t forget.” and she tried again: “When I saw that the empty package was still there ..” the reply was: “It’s not empty, and I didn’t forget to throw it away.” This was meant as an example of how easy it is to put blame into ‘observation’. The boyfriend had left the pack with a small amount of detergent with the intention of washing some rags. The observation would have been: “When I lifted the pack…”

I felt uncomfortable with what was said since I experienced the example as a bit ‘self-blaming’, and I assumed that the reaction / thought / expectation “The boyfriend didn’t throw the box away!” came from a longer period of continuously not having her needs taken into consideration. For more examples that can concretely be pointed out as creating emotional unsafety, stress, and exhaustion in intimate relations read: Everyday Male Chauvinism. [ https://sosiaalikeskus.wordpress.com/everyday-male-chauvinism This is advice, and can be experienced as disconnecting, but the purpose with listing this information here, is to provide ways for people in intimate relations to become aware of disconnecting, stressful behavior and through this get a possibility to re-connect – with themselves, and/or with one another, depending how willing the partner(s) is(are) to do the work. I recommend starting to read the text by scrolling down to the examples in brown, and then read the introduction, since it might be experienced as a bit ‘dry’.]

Once again (OFNR) Observation, Feeling, Need, Request:

So from OBSERVATION to what stimulated the FEELINGS >> NEED. “When this [Observation] happens I feel.. because this need of mine is not met.” Ask yourself: Is there something that I want someone to do – when? (what and when?) Make a clear and specific REQUEST.

NVC DANCE FLOOR: This exercise is possible to do at home, put the notes (Misery Café + OFNR) on the floor, move around between the different papers, this helps to sort out – “Am I really feeling this? — no I’m really here — thinking that ‘she should be punished,’ and when I say that, I feel sad..” This exercise can be done on a piece of paper as well.

More said about this dance floor: Allow oneself to be in the blaming circle – there’s a lot of energy there that shouldn’t get lost – a lot of beautiful needs that are screaming to be met.

Needs will be changing … and when a need is sorted out / located / identified, then back to the circle … or once all the needs have been connected with, it’s possible to make a request. This was compared to pressing the gas in a car – finding the needs, and not making requests, is like pressing the gas and not moving anywhere .. it’s just a way of causing a lot of pollution in the world.

We went into two groups, trying out the dance floors. We were asked to pick a situation when it’s difficult to stay connected, and to help one another make ofnr. Not all of the participants got to try out the exercise. I tried out the exercise in relation to self-hatred, self-blame and excessive damaging alcohol consumption. I got stuck somewhere at the needs level, and realized that there is a lot of work to do to sort out a lot of past and present experiences and the feelings and needs in relation to that, in order to get to a clear request, something apart from a frustrated, exhausted “Do the work”.

Snack break —-

It was repeated that ‘these guys’ (the ‘jackals’ – the different expressions in the Misery Café) are our ‘best friends’. The notes on the floor remind us how we can be, and that we can be more careful and considerate. We were told to care for ‘these guys’ – The ‘jackals’ will never leave you alone, never forget to tell you what you value in life.

FINISHING QUESTIONS:

We sat in a circle and were asked to reflect on “What have I learnt?” “What needs have been met?” It was said that it’s important to celebrate met needs.

One person said she felt ‘Adventurous, stimulated, surprised’. She said that the needs she had listed for tomorrow had already been met. ‘Skills. Learning new things’.

Another one felt disappointed with the dance floor (hadn’t tried it with ofnr), she had experienced the misery café as disconnecting, and said that she still believed that nvc is a useful method though, and expressed that she was feeling tired, and had only gotten 4-5 hours of sleep the previous night.

There had been differing opinions on the importance / use of expressing requests in one of the groups, while doing the dance floor exercise.

I expressed fears around the ice-berg. A fear of staying on the surface, never going deeper. Someone else had a fear of poking too deep and scare when saying things like: “You have a need for Safety?” One way of staying clear of going too deep – is to ask yourself:

Do you want to connect or do you want to fix?

END OF DAY 1.

“two persons talking”

by Milla — she–he

This is a continuation of an sms conversation that i started posting at the end of this blog post: Click here. This part of the conversation took place 12.11.2010 morning until evening.

Your reality is yours you define it for me its too heavy to endure and for a long time i thought whatever i say or do cant fix things. Is there something i can do for u now?

Could you tell me what – or if, something – is different now? How do you feel having this conversation?

Im somewhat at peace with everything. Its ok for me how do you feel?

Frustrated. Wanting too much.

Why are you at peace with everything? How do you overcome pain and fears? I don’t understand.

My greatest ones i faced and closed down by systematic meditation and series of crying. Letting go both spiritually and physically

I would like to talk with you at some point. I would also like help with getting to speak with the men’s group in budapest. Are you still in contact with them? Are you okay with these requests? Is there something you would like for me to clarify, or something you could ask for yourself, something i can do for you?

Yes we can talk but im not mediating for you sorry. Otherwise yes im still in the group. What does the first drunken message mean? Why did you write it?

This conversation is on my blog. Could we continue talking there? Tomorrow?

Yes but im in the south of Spain without net. Soonest posible next semana

What are you doing there , in spain? And next week is fine by me. I can make a blog post called “two persons talking” and we use the comment space to speak with one another. Ok?

Been to a Rainbow gathering in Portugal and now im going to visit friends in Granada with a caravan of anarchists picking fruit and such

It means: ‘what could have been’ and i wrote it cause i was drunk (unconscious) and sad about love not being possible to exist just for the sake of existing, without power games and fears, or with that but with the strength and safety of the simplicity of ‘to love and be loved’. It’s a need i have. I would like to ask it from you, but i know it isn’t there for you – as you say, you feel distance. And we have different perceptions of reality. Was this a clear answer to your question?

Yes

How was it for you to read that response?

Sad, safe and it made me think what does it mean love and be loved. Like a couple?

Like two persons sharing love – like poly (not the type of ‘poly’ i had with you – denying relations and avoiding talk and accountability, but a poly where ppl care and there’s awareness and consent. Commitment. Clarity) why do you feel safe and sad reading that message? And why do you ask if i mean ‘couple’? (strange. What does couple mean to you?)

Feel sad that you lack love and safe that i feel there is some understanding between us. Couple means exclusivity for me and i thought about it cause the first swedish message sounded a bit cheesy

Could u define cheesy and how that goes along with couple-dom? Who did you think you were talking with at first? Some swedish person with a finnish number? Or was it only after it was ‘Milla’ that it got ‘cheesy’?

First when i understood the text my spam mode turned on and i thought of cheesy love songs then i started thinking who it could be and you werent the first suspect

So it’s like when you were singing cheesy love songs to me / in my presence sharing bed space, touching. And you asking why you couldn’t be my boyfriend? To you ‘love’ is doing this? Playing couple?

No what you described is fooling around in bed

So how is cheesy related to couple, and why would you think i would mean couple?

Just guessing nothing specific and the relation is that human relations ruled by forced monogamy produce a culture like this

You see me as monogamous even though i say im poly?

It’s strange. I’ve been writing down this conversation in a word document. And i just read through it. When i asked if there was something i could do for you you asked what i meant with and why i wrote my drunken msg. It reminds me of previous conversations i’ve had with you where you want to hear me say i love you. It’s strange for me that you ask it from others but not wanting to say it yourself. I could have gotten by with some ‘i love u’s from u. I hope youre feeling better nowadays.

No i dont i was saying it in general. This culture affects most ppl on this planet but of course its no determining factor

I asked what i asked cause i wanted things clear. I didnt want anything else and i dont enjoy hearing i love you from you

I have difficulties understanding u. So what u mean is that u used the word ‘couple’ meaning the same thing as ‘intimate’ when checking what kind of love-sharing i was talking about. Correct? And to try to make u feel heard and safe: i hear that u dont enjoy romantic fantasies involving my person. Cool? Clear?

Just trying to explain more, with the risk of causing more confusion. The ‘like a couple?’ comment felt as out of context as a ‘like a virgin?’ 😀 comment would have been. Like not a ‘serious’ question, just ‘bizarre’. Hope todays talk hasnt been too triggering 4 u. Good night.

Polyamoria ry – Let’s make it official

by The Only Spectacle Inhabiting This Scene.. Me, Myself, Milla — she=he

Today’s Song: The book of love – Magnetic Fields

"Polyamory: Responsible Non-Monogamy". A screenshot of the website recently taken over by 'Polyamoria ry' from 'sudenpentu' - one enthusiastic polyamorous individual, who for a long time has been promoting and creating awareness of polyamory on the internet. http://polyamoria.fi/

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October 16th, there was a meeting for getting the papers in order for Polyamory in Finland. About 25 or so – from Turku, Tampere and Helsinki – meeting in the room labeled Historian Luokka (History class) at Panimoravintola Koulu (Brewery-restaurant ‘School’) in Turku, to make it ‘official’ — a registered association — Polyamoria ry.

I’m speaking as a person with the impression that I don’t really have an insight or overview of what’s going on with poly in Finland today (or ever). I was at the polyamory-discussion, arranged at Seta, (who currently distance themselves from making statements about polyamory being a sexual ‘minority’), during pride-week in the summer of 2006. Most persons who attended that meeting were fairly surprised to see more or less 30 others, interested in the same thing. There was a google group (no longer active) set up, and I tried myself to get some face to face meetings together, but because of not managing to find a ‘suitable’ day of the week for meeting up, and also because of dislikings between some people in that particular group, this process came to a standstill, until someone had a stroke of genius and decided that every 15th of the month would be the meeting date — and so it has been, in Helsinki, for some years now. The next meeting will be on Monday, November 15th at Cafe Piritta. I have no idea what time it starts, but I would guess around 6. In Turku, at least the 10th of this month, there was a meeting at a place called CCC, at 7. I don’t know how often they occur. Tampere also has meetings every now and then. I recall someone saying that they had it on regular dates, the same way as in Helsinki. For more info on what’s going on in the poly-scene, sign in and ask at the forum: polyamoria.fi: monisuhteisuusfoorumi.

The call for a meeting to create a ry (registered association) came after the topic of gay marriage had been picked apart in the Finnish public debate. In 2009 there was a proposal on sukupuolineutraali avioliitto (gender-neutral marriage) for gay couples to not only have the possibility for registered partnership, but as well marriage, which would then grant same-sex couples to have some of the same possibilities that hetero-couples now have, for instance – possibilities to adopt children and move to another country as a legal spouse. The triggering sentences in the debate had gone something along the line of: if gender-neutral marriage would be possible then why not lukumääräneutraali (neutrality in relation to number of spouses getting married) or lajineutraali (species-neutral) marriages?

As it was said by one person: it’s very easy to label poly as something similar to ‘students fucking around’ and not as something that many people do not disclose to family, friends or at work – love that is kept secret and hidden – because of fear of repercussions for not fitting the normative way of how to organize intimate relations.

There’s a lot of shame – stigma – and negative attitudes towards persons who figure they might just be open to committing to more than one intimate relation at a time, with all persons involved aware and consenting.

I came late to the meeting, and entered in the introduction round, each person in the circle taking turns saying something about themselves and why they were there.

After this, one person who had been sitting up the night before, doing the boring necessary paper work, was now stuck with the responsibility of going through the paragraphs for the sake of transparency. There were some minor comments here and there on grammar or questions on procedure (for instance, who has access to members lists). The person reading the paragraphs was standing up, and fairly quickly moving through the paper – banging her hand in the air as a club every now and then: “Decided! Agreed!”

After this we were told we were free to go and do as we please. I felt exhausted by this type of meeting: Bureaucracy, no human contact, clearly some persons speaking more and others not at all. Did everybody understand what was happening? I for one wasn’t.. but I’ve gotten used to it, and have somehow just accepted – resigned to – that this is the way we make ‘history’.

A person made an effort to gather the people that stayed after the meeting, to come closer to hear one another, and then as well suggesting to have a round, and making efforts to explain why she would like to have a round (to make sure that everyone gets space to speak and get heard – one person who had been speaking much during the meeting was agreeing with this, saying that it helps her in knowing that she’s not taking too much space). We had a round on what polyamory meant to us, interspersed with spontaneous discussion. It made the coming to Turku feel more like I was there as a human and not just as someone to sign a piece of paper.

I am thoroughly bored with this kind of meeting-culture, and I know that I do not wish to sit through another disconnecting interaction like this, and will therefore, here, list a concrete suggestion on how things can be done differently 🙂

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Jälkiviisaus – Rewind.. Meeting starts:

– Getting to know one another: First people walk around in the space, looking at one another, seeing who’s there. Then stop to ask someone you don’t know a question, talk with this person for a few minutes – Repeat this maybe three times, with a new question with every new person. The questions can be about anything, ask someone to make a suggestion to the group. (Examples: “If you had a radio show what would it be about?” “What’s your biggest fear?” “How did you feel when you woke up this morning? What did you eat?”Anything! It can be all related to poly – or not at all. Anything. Just for people to interact and get to know one another.)

– Sit down in a circle, do a quick introduction round: What’s your name – where do you come from – why are you here? Expectations?

– Talk with the person you’re sitting next to for a couple of minutes: “Why create a registered association?” After this ask in the large group for a few persons to say some ‘pros’ and ‘cons’ 🙂 “Why?” “Why not?”

– Then people getting into groups of 3 or 4 and reading through the suggested draft for the ry. Take 15-20 minutes, reading it together, asking questions, making comments and so on. Or talk about whatever, if there’s time over for that..

– Go through the draft with the whole group, piece by piece, and by now there might be more questions and comments coming out. After each paragraph, ask if someone would like to ask some clarifying questions (“Is something unclear?”) and then check if there are any comments or objections.

If doing the whole consensus thing, then it would be cool to ask people to signal by raising their hands if they: “Approve” “Don’t care” “Object”. This way it’s easier to see how many are actually FOR what is being ‘decided’, even though the decisions made might just be a formality for the sake of legality within a bureaucratic system that nobody understands anyways.. There could also be someone there counting the ‘votes’, to make it clear, for others who weren’t there, what ‘weight’ the decisions have.

– And after this the thing that happened at the meeting. Asking for persons to become members of the board, and all the other positions ‘needed’. I have no idea how to make this more inclusive – possibly with a list of tasks clearly described, and if the ry will continue that there are efforts made to rotate the tasks so we don’t end up with the same persons doing the same thing year after year – possibly have a period where the person doing some specific thing, updates the person who’s supposed to take over the task, so they don’t have to ‘re-invent the wheel’ when they get started, and also not making it necessary for people to already have heaps of ‘experience’ before trying something out within the ‘organization’.

– Ending the meeting with persons talking in smaller groups on whatever subjects that feel important or current for the persons present at the meeting, rotate the groups, so that more people get to interact.

– Have a quick feedback circle in a large group: “Thoughts, feelings? What worked for you, what didn’t? Anything else in general?”

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It scares me how easy something that is meant to give structure and support, turns into a faceless Entity, where we no longer ask ourselves: “What do I want? What is important to me?” and start acting and working for what’s ‘best’ for the Entity – Making efforts not to ‘get in the way’ of what’s ‘important’ for the ‘organization’; the ‘goal’; the ‘true purpose’. Many times, when a large group of people start acting in this way – and I’ve seen it happen time and time again – we end up with most persons feeling confused and disconnected. We now have a ry, and with this, there is a wish to spread awareness and make an impact. Apart from that, if we don’t yet know what we want – I guess it’s okay to say that out loud, and hopefully there’s a willingness to try out many different ideas and ways of going about things. Failure and things not working out being just as okay and enriching – something to learn from – as what works well and what we would like to keep and repeat.

I’m one of those people who feel ‘fake’ at poly-meetings, since I don’t function very well in any kind of relations (work, personal, personal, work — life..), and the only intimate relation I’ve had that wasn’t a hetero-couple-relation or ‘students fucking around’, was the kind of irresponsible confusing inexperienced ‘poly’ where many persons ended up being hurt. There was no awareness of what was going on, and consent was missing on many levels (sexual, emotional, relational).

My poly-experience was not a pleasant one, I never understood what I was to this person, but at least I’ve learnt some of net-effect and how people sleeping and having sex, relating and sharing and speaking of love with one another, is just as much a part of everyday power relations as any other relation (work, school, organizational) and that ridding oneself of these power relations does not come by labeling oneself ‘poly’ or a relation as ‘open’ or ‘free’. In the same way as a nation state does not become democratic, just and equal by labeling itself a Democracy. Ridding oneself of power relations comes by working through, and becoming aware of all our internalized patterns and speaking and reflecting openly on what hinders and helps in sorting out all the fears around speaking about feelings and needs in relation to one another.

It was said at the meeting that a person being interviewed on the subject of poly, having spoken the usual things about how important it is with Communication-Communication-Communication within these relations, and then saying to the other participants that this is not true for her personal relation, and that she’s just had to trust that the partner would say if something does not feel okay.

The same basic injustices that exist in couple relations [for example: EMC] exist also within poly relations. In wanting to share this beautiful idea with others, of how loving many without guilt and shame would be (and IS!) possible, I somehow fear that the Image of poly will take over the Reality of poly: We don’t yet exist within a community that has means to deal with violence within (child abuse, battery, sexualized abuse). In order to love freely and truly we need to know that our basic need for safety is cared for and that we won’t be left alone when ‘love’ has disappeared. This is the type of discussion that I would like to take part in – finding ways to care for one another when the promise of love fails to materialize, and how to heal what’s broken, how to heal and transform the hurt that is all around.

Says I, with mental problems, alcohol problems. With immense fears of getting ‘close’ to other human beings. Enormous difficulties in learning to trust. For me: Love, attraction, caring is not a beautiful fountain of joy to dive into, it’s more like losing myself and then finding myself again, walking on thin crackling ice, not really knowing where to go – and very difficult and confusing to talk about. Human relations in general are hard. Dizzying, difficult, frustrating, confusing. Triggering as hell.

I would like – love – to learn and experience how to make poly into a safe practice. I still don’t know how, and I doubt that I would feel safe until there’s a community around me ready to take action and care and heal, instead of deny and point fingers of blame and put labels like “jealous” “vengeance seeking” “crazy bitch” when trying to speak of harm done in ‘poly’ relations.

What is poly? What is love? What is responsible non-monogamy? Who gets to define these things in the relations? How are they defined? I’m sure there are many answers to these questions. I would like to find more persons feeling as lost as I do, willing to work towards something beyond propaganda and pretty words. I would like to feel a sense of meaning and belonging, I hope that this text is not yet another outpour of despair – there’s been plenty of those on this blog – I’m hoping that this can be received as a step towards Connection.

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Disconnection. Don’t Drink and Dial:

+358503540595 Vad som kunde ha varit. (4.11.2010 night)

+36704568197 Vad och varför? (11.11.2010 night)

+358503540595 Kärlek för kärleks skull. (11.11.2010 night)

+358503540595 Jag var full, och kommer inte ens ihåg att jag skrev det förra meddelandet “Vad som..” Med andra ord: sinnessjukt fyllesnack. (11.11.2010 night)

+36704568197 Are you Milla? (11.11.2010 day)

+358503540595 Yes. Who is asking? (11.11.2010 day)

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+36704568197 Daniel. You recently sent drunken messages in swedish and i dont know where to put them (11.11.2010 afternoon)

+358503540595 One drunken msg, two sober. If you want help with clarity on my part, just ask. If you need clarity on your part (why you ask me questions in swedish, why you express your confusion to me, in relation to some messages sent) well, ask yourself. I’m as clueless as you about your confusion. (11.11.2010 afternoon)

+36704568197 Im clear about my part: i thought at first it was some other swedish person thats why swedish and i express confusion cause there are unsettled issues between us. What about u? (11.11.2010 afternoon)

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Milla.. too confused and hurt to respond. Flashbacks of a love torn apart, remembering feeling dirty, vulnerable, scared. Alone. Continuing with what I was doing before, tearing up old flesh-wounds when deleting old messages from the phone:

+358503540595 Hello Dani. Please publish this stalking: When will ‘accountability’ be a part of your vocabulary and ‘feminist’ anti-sexist practice? /Milla (11.11.2009)

Daniel then and now too hurt and confused to respond? Or then as now, clear on her part: There are unsettled issues between us.

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After some time I sent this message:

+358503540595 Im confused scared and hurt about the unsettled issues between us. In a lot of pain, difficult to get over the hurt. Flashbacks daily. I would like to understand what happened, to be at peace. Heal. (11.11.2010 evening)

+358503540595 What’s your response to hearing that? (11.11.2010 evening)

+36704568197 I feel empathy but distanced from u I want to be responsible im not sure what am i responsible for exactly and what can i do (11.11.2010 evening)

+358503540595 You could say why you call my reality distorted, and as well say why you avoided, ditched so many meetings and why you didnt want to deal with the stuff i brought up. I dont understand that behavior.  (11.11.2010 evening)

This conversation continues here: “two persons talking