It all started yesterday evening, when I noticed my dog was upset with me, and continued to be this morning. You can label her as a drama queen, if you want to. When she acts like this, I usually pet her the same way I do every day, no changes on my part. By doing that, I try to constantly remind, not just the dog, but the whole family I don’t like to feed dramas, hoping they will feel discouraged to turn events into stories we all create in our heads, transforming them in a bigger drama than they really are.
For some reason, this morning I decided to stop for a minute and pay attention to the dog’s drama. In my mind, I went back through what happened yesterday and sensed she could be upset because she was left alone at home for a couple of hours, while each one of us in the family were out in our own activities, which is usual, except that this time there was a thunderstorm, and she had no one to run to when she heard thunder. Then, analyzing this from a logical point of view, I thought, “How could my dog communicate about this with me and solve the issue?” Well, she can’t do much (until she decides to let go of the grudge herself!) unless we communicate telepathically. I won’t go into this here, because I want to focus on something else: How can we humans, completely capable of communicating in more than one hundred ways (languages from different countries, dialects, body language, etc.), let the world know about our feelings and needs in a way that supports healthy coexistence?
There have been way too many events when people, who had been holding grudges, anger, or fear for too long, decided one day to go out and (sometimes randomly) let it all out in a harmful way to other people. Is this the best way to let others know how we are feeling? Not in my opinion. So, I stopped and thought about what I could do to make a difference, because we all know if we keep doing something in a certain way, the same results will keep coming; we will only get a different result if we choose to act in a different way.
A few months ago, I started to study (mostly superficially) a different way of communication; it is called NVC – non-violent communication. I have tested it a couple of times; it does work, but I will be honest and share that it is quite challenging to keep doing it every time you talk. However, it has very good points that help us shape our conversations and interactions with others in a much better way. For instance, NVC talks about acknowledging other people’s feelings before opening your mouth to reply to what they said. This alone makes a huge difference, and even the person you are talking to can feel it and may soften just by sensing he or she was finally heard. Another very good point behind NVC tactics is guessing which feelings and needs triggered the other person to say or act the way he or she did. It is clear to me that some people have trouble communicating and finding safe ways to let their feelings be known by others. And some events that seem unjustifiable and trigger anger and fear in so many might have come from a place of not knowing how to express oneself. So, I try to consider other people’s intentions behind their words/actions; sometimes I don’t guess them correctly, but, just by having the intention of empathizing and caring for the other person, there is a big chance of affecting him or her in a positive way. People do want to feel heard, nonetheless when they can’t find a healthy way to express it, their chances of being heard decrease even more. It is important to teach people how to express their feelings in a way they will have at least a chance to be heard. As humans mature and learn to relate to different people throughout their lives, many tend to learn how to deal with different individuals. So, that part is best covered in real life, dealing with real people.
Back to how I can make a difference, I feel I can help by teaching kids how to transform all that powerful energy anger builds inside us into positive things or at least to be let out in safe ways. I decided to offer in my yoga classes this week ways to express feelings, specifically those which make us want to yell or stomp our feet. I showed the kids how babies act because they haven’t yet learned how to talk, so we all turned into babies for a few minutes. Next, I emphasized to them that by now they surely can organize their words to let others know what they need/feel. However, I added, if they feel too angry or upset to talk, they could work on those feelings first until they become more manageable so they could find a logical way to put words correctly and respectfully into a sentence to be told to the world. I offered the kids breathing techniques to calm them down, followed by a quick talk about ways to express oneself making your audience more likely to listen to you.
Talking about this subject in my yoga classes – to kids first, and maybe extend it to the teens class – is a way to start. And since they are responsible for the future of our planet, planting seeds in them about treating others with respect and compassion seems like a promising thing to do. That’s a way to envision a brighter future in my opinion.