One of the great blessings we've had is sharing NVC at one of the homeless shelters in Santa Barbara. One of the residents, Ward, shared some of his experience with us.........."That first night I came to class, I could have sat in the class and been grumpy and irritated cause 'they're making me do this'. Then I realized I just might get something out of it." Ward came to sessions and participated actively.
That was many months ago so it was fun to see Ward recently and hear how much he gained from the sessions. He said the thing that most impacted him was the idea that "the other person has needs".
He shared the following experience with us...........an 86 woman in his neighbourhood needed some assitance and being a handyman, he offered to help. Imagine his surprise when, instead of receiving appreciation for his offer, the woman launched into a stream of jackals!
Ward says "I could feel my triggers coming up and knew I was in fight or flight mode and I'm not the 'flight' type." He could feel his teeth clenching and wondered to himself "Am I going to hit this 86 year old woman?"
He took a breath, then asked himself "what am I doing?" The thought that came was "this is a test!" Just pausing long enough to connect with himself in this way gave him the space to get to "I wonder what her needs are? I bet she's feeling scared and helpless & wanting support, understanding and help"
As soon as he had the wondering about her needs, he noticed that he felt sadness and compassion for her. As this shift was taking place in Ward, the woman shifted her behavior and thanked him for his offer of assistance. The woman's caregiver was astonished and asked Ward what he did to cause such a shift in the woman's behavior!
How profound it is to breathe, take a moment and remind ourselves that this person in front of us has needs as well. Imagine the kind of world we'd co-create if each of us practiced this only once a day!