I like to keep a gratitude journal, and the other day I was looking back over one of my very first journals that I started right after I first started learning nonviolent communication. I decided to share it with you today. It’s called reflecting on times that felt tough.
What I used to do was use what is called OFNR, observation, feeling, need and request. I did my best to reflect on each one of those steps. I really wanted to have more ease, peace and harmony, especially in relationship with my youngest son. I find it fascinating to go back and see where I was all those years ago.
O - My observation was: I really wanted to go to church this morning with my family...I tried to help Rylan get ready for Sunday School and it went downhill fast. I get so tired of needing to wait. I'm confused how to help him move forward out of being stuck. He uses such a loud voice, calls names progressively more violent, then explodes. Out of frustration I mirror him which escalates the...
Do you take the time to reflect on your relationship with your loved ones? What influences our feelings, perceptions, and behaviors as evolving human beings? Are you consciously creating a nurturing environment where safety and trust influence the activation of genes and sculpt the structure of the brain?
The genes that children inherit influence their development and shape the inborn characteristics of their nervous systems. Their experiences also directly shape their development and influence which genes are activated. Relationships that provide contingency (responses to other's signals with a quality, intensity, and timing which clearly reflect the signals that were sent), especially when emotions are heightened, offer our loved ones repeated experiences where they feel connected, understood and protected.
I noticed when homeschooling my son, Rylan, that rather than sharing a mutual sense of interest and wonder as we focused on learning, Rylan would shut down...
Do you have a close friend you enjoy spending time with? I remember when my close friend, Jenn, was planning to come visit us after we’d moved with her two boys, Mason, who was 8, and Isaac who was 6. I was so excited to connect with her in person and just to hang out together again.
I also remembered some of Mason and Rylan's relational growing pains and a little anxiety crept into my awareness. My window of tolerance felt really stretched when I perceived disharmony between our sons. It found it painful and confusing how to stay self-connected when the unexpected happened, especially when I was looking forward to what I’d planned and it would get interrupted.
I put a lot of thought into how I might engage with the boys differently if something unexpected happened. I recognized a post-hearsal opportunity for myself. A post-hearsal enables us to shape our experience of ourselves in the world by using conscious, reflective, autobiographical...
Have you ever wanted something so badly it hurt? Wanted it so badly it consumes all your thoughts throughout the day as you picture what it would look like over and over in your mind - so that you don't even notice or appreciate where you are? Well, I learned that's where I spent a lot of my energy in my life with my son, Rylan, and I hadn’t realized it.
Let me share a story with you. I remember when Rylan led me with closed eyes to his bedroom door. He threw the door wide open so I could see as he said. "Surprise, Mommy! You can look now!"
"Wow, Rylan!" I exclaimed with utter amazement, I'm feeling slightly stunned here, you've cleaned and organized your bedroom completely by yourself, AND, you are super happy about it! This is a delightful surprise!"
"You know," I paused to look into his eyes, "I want to acknowledge right here, right now, just how big it is that you cleaned and organized your room today independently. As a matter of fact," I continued, "I...
I remember when Rylan told me about his fears in the night. He said, ”I just get so scared! If I wake up and you aren't there I think you are dead!"
"I'm hearing just how scared you feel when you wake up and think I'm dead because you can't see me," I reflected, "you really like it when you know I'm okay and you aren't alone?" I guessed.
"Yeah," Rylan's eyes widened as he continued, "but I get so scared my stomach hurts and it terrifies me! I want it to stop and I don't know what to do."
"So you feel so scared your stomach hurts and it's terrifying? You really want it to stop; yet don't know what to do? I'm guessing you might like some support and new tools maybe?" I reflected with an empathy guess.
Rylan nodded and leaned towards me slightly. Taking in his nonverbal cues, I drew in a deep breath to ground myself, then asked, "Do you remember the tapping (Emotional Freedom Technique) we did together when you were six...
How do you foster relationship within yourself and with others? What is your first thought upon waking or before falling asleep at the end of the day? Do you greet yourself with kindness upon waking, taking the time to imagine your upcoming day with curiosity? At the end of the day, do you take time to reflect and celebrate the moments that went well and to mourn and repair those moments that were difficult? How do you greet your loved ones "Good morning" and say "Good night" before they go to bed?
I have been intentional to take time every morning and night to reflect and ponder these questions surrounding relationships and discovered with some delight and fascination how this practice unfolded in my relationship with my youngest son.
I remember waking up as a child hearing my Dad downstairs singing, "Oh what a beautiful morning, oh what a beautiful day..." and as I came down the stairs he would greet me with a cheerful smile, "Good morning,...
Stress is insidious. As aware as our culture may seem to be about stress interrupting our ability to enjoy life, I wonder how many people truly understand the importance of attuning to the emotional subtleties of stress in order for it to dissipate.
My husband and I noticed that when our son, Rylan, started kindergarten at age five, he would cling to me when separating. When I returned, he initially greeted me with desperate relief until we were on our way home. Then in the car he expressed loud, angry outbursts of energy, and I needed to pull over to the side of the road to gently hold and soothe him repeatedly. I remember feeling shock, shame, and confusion in my own body, mystified by the perplexing rages my son experienced when transitioning.
Over time I learned that when we perceive danger in our environment, the way a child does when separating from a parent, the lack of safety amps up a gradual stress response that affects the whole body....
Birthday celebrations. What images come to mind reading those words just now? Do you remember looking forward to celebrating your special day as a child, or are there clouded memories of disappointment? For years our son, Rylan, began anticipating his birthday celebration right after the Christmas holidays. Typically when that magical day arrived, his nervous system was wound so tight with expectations, the slightest disappointment would trigger the aroused sympathetic branch of his system into acute distress.
As distress levels build up in children, a hormonal chain reaction is set in motion and their bodies are primed for action. High levels of stress hormones wash over the brain and body, and there is a withdrawal of the chemicals that promote feelings of well-being, the pain circuits in the brain are activated, just as they would be if the child were hurt physically.
I remember previous years when upon hearing that his friend could not come to...
How do you respond to signals of irritation or stress from someone you barely know? Do you notice a different reaction if the signals are from someone you feel close to? What about when they come from your child? The ways a parent interacts with their child can have a dramatic impact on how the child's brain forges connections to adapt to the environment they find themselves in.
I remember when I shared my own internal responses after I saw a furrow between my youngest daughter's eyes several years ago. Let me take you on a little journey now, and share how things unfolded a little later on that day in relationship with her.
After we returned home from an outing with the grandkids, and we put the them down for their naps, I noticed a subtle shift in my daughter's stance. She was standing tall, with her shoulders braced back, and the furrow had returned to crease her brow. "What's up?" I asked as I sat on the couch.
"Why aren't you putting...
What kind of relationship do you currently have with your child? When you think about your relationship, what happens in your body? Do you experience an opening within or a sense of contraction?
I remember when one of my daughters and I spent a whole day together caring for my three youngest grandchildren. We got to take them on an outing for one of their friend's birthday parties. During lunch the children asked me for more Cheetos. When I gave one to them, I noticed a furrow between my daughter's eyes as she watched me.
My internal alarm system rang a muted danger signal, and I noticed my heart rate increased, my chests tightened, and tension began to form at the base of my neck. With intention, I slowed down my inner experience, welcomed the sensations. I breathed into them as I acknowledged to myself that when I am being watched closely I feel nervous, uncertain and worried - so very much wanting relaxation, to have fun, closeness and a shared joy,...