June 27, 2012 § Leave a Comment
AKA How to Name Your Needs in a Way that is Loving, Respectful, and Empathetic
In our own humanness, we have a tendency to express ourselves on a day to day basis that is violent, combative, and pushes others away.
There are so many ways to communicate in this life that it’s sometimes difficult to know what the best way is, if any. After being married to Mr. Trever O’Brien for over four years, I know that communication is extremely important and something we often try to work on. It’s definitely been the key to our “success.”
Looking back at my own personal mapping–that is, all of my life during childhood–I’ve been watching adults model communication styles that are power, manipulation, struggle, ego, control, and blame among others.
All and all, these communication styles fall under Violence.
They hurt the mind, body, soul, and spirit. That hurt causes an endless amount of issues as we grow up. Yep. We all have issues. That doesn’t mean we can’t heal those hurts by meeting our current needs.
That’s the glorious thing: Our needs can be communicated through Nonviolent Communication (NVC) in a way that is beneficial to meeting those needs.
We miss the mark with each other and step into violent communication when we don’t name our specific need. Without that specific goal in mind, without it being out on the table, we are destroying our relationships and connection with one another rather than building them up.
Let’s put it this way: We have to know somewhere deep down inside that using aggression by flipping someone off while driving will never get our needs met or cause us to feel any happier. And in the end, that’s the hope that each one of us desires.
To get our needs met.
We need to get back to the root of simply knowing the real need of our hearts and naming it. It’s as simple as that. Forget the “I feel” statements. You really just need the trash taken out. I need the trash taken out, would you mind ________________ . (Watching the kids while I do it, taking it out for me before you have a shower, helping me take it down because I have two bags now.)
Where do you start?
• Work through any underlying mind clutter.
• Get to the root of the anger and/or depression.
• Be clear about your own needs before expressing them in a violent manner.
• Make sure you’re regulated (here’s some great tips on self-regulating)
Now you’re ready to define and name your need. As simple as this task may seem, it makes a world of difference in your every day life. It’s a practice of mindfulness, of walking in light. Name that need. You’ll be the better person for it.
February 22, 2012 § 1 Comment
My little sister just turned the Big 18. Now she can legally vote and buy cigs. And it got me a thinking–we’re never really ready for the next year. What’s weird is we have no idea what it will feel like. We make assumptions about growing up and getting older, yet we have no idea what the truth is until we get there:
We feel the same.
When you’re younger you think that when you get to a certain age, say 30 or 40, that it’ll feel this way or that. That somehow life will feel different. That you’ll know more than you did on your 28th birthday than you did the day before. But it’s not so.
When a 55-year-old tells me they don’t feel any different, I’m finally starting to believe them. Because it really doesn’t feel any different. Change and growth are such subtle progressions, that you can’t measure them by any means. And age is certainly no indicator of such change and growth.
So you just roll with it. It’s a number. It’s a bodily state that effects your physicality more so than anything else. Yet in our society, there are tons of pressures, spoken and not, to be at certain life stages when you hit a date on the calendar.
When you reach 18, it feels as if the world is telling you to be graduated from high school, to know what you want to do with the rest of your life, and to have a plan.
At 30, it’s like they expect you to have it all together. The job, the car, the significant other, perhaps even the kids.
Once you get to 40 it’s like some unspoken expectation that you have to feel old. That half your life is over, so you’d better be acting like it.
But can I just say, let’s throw these cockamamie ideas straight out the window? They’re ridiculous. And untrue, to say the least. There’s nothing that says you have to be at this place or that. It’s for you to decide. It’s for you to accept.
I know getting older isn’t the funnest thing in the whole world. At least it’s not the same as when you were seven going on eight and couldn’t wait for the “big bike” on your birthday. However, if you look at it as simply time passing–because that’s what it is–and not a way to measure your achievements, success, or lack there of, perhaps you’ll be able to embrace the joy of your birth!
Happy Birthday, Itzel! I love you, lady. I hope you can embrace eighteen with the same passion, energy, and excitement that you’ve done with all the years before.
January 27, 2012 § Leave a Comment
My friend was going through some rough times, so I replied to her with this and I thought it might be insightful to others:
The reality is: We’re all broken. We have all had parents that have raised us in homes that have not given us the tools to cope with life. Period. What I mean by “cope” is having the ability to properly deal with problems, situations, relationships, issues, shame/guilt (both different), and conflict that arise throughout our life.
If our parents didn’t know how to cope with things like finances, relational issues (with one another, with family, with friends, with coworkers with strangers), guilt from past experiences (pre-relationships to their marriage, abuse from their family), and so on then we won’t know how to either. Many of our parents were outcomes of baby-boomers or post-baby-boomers, which has been called a “generation of righteousness.” That is, our parents have attempted to put a higher power back in the home after the war(s).
The problem is that they didn’t know exactly how to do so, because they were coming from broken depression-period families that didn’t know how to cope either with the same things that we’re dealing with. Basically, it’s a cycle that will only continue from generation to generation unless we do something about it.
We have to learn (from counselors, self-help books, good teaching, etc.) how to cope. Our generation, unlike our parents, has been called “the generation of hope”. Why? We’re hopeful. We continually believe that there’s something better out there (hence all of our experiences with broken relationships). We insist that life is not what our parents taught us, religion isn’t what they said it was, and wealth, power, fame isn’t what it’s all about. It’s not because we’re cursed, shameful, guilty, bad, trapped, messed-up, dirty, defiled, sinful, unrighteous, or any other distorted pessimistic perspective.
We will continue to believe that we deserve the best (whether it is subconscious or not) and strive to find it with all the hope in the world. Break the cycle of a broken generation, be the generation of hope. You have not failed, you have only discovered the truth.
Additionally, as a mother six years after writing this, I can tell you that this is my hope to pass on to my children. My parenting style is to give Audrey the tools that she needs to cope, make decisions, and problem solve. That’s basically it. If I can do just those things, I will feel like I’ve created a human being that knows how to deal and can conquer anything. Because if you think about it, all of life is centered upon those things. Everything is a new something to cope with, decide upon, or problem solve whether it’s what to wear when you wake up in the morning or who to date or where to move. And I’m hopeful that with the years of counseling and learning, I can do that. I can leave her with more skills than I had going into adulthood. So we may be broken, but we can choose to be hopeful.
Originally posted: January 11, 2005
Photo: I have high hopes for my little generation.
December 28, 2011 § Leave a Comment
When I was a teenager, I was in love with reading Self Help books. I could go through a book written with the intention to get you take some action in hours. I would go crazy over the idea of being able to grow and learn through my own personal self-realization. It felt empowering, decisive, and actionable. Plus, I believed I was actually good at it.
Personal growth through self-paced Self Help has always been my best mode of learning. Books, manuals, websites, and blogs give me a feeling of control and happiness like no other. So it’s no surprise that even at fourteen, I was asking for books authored by writers like Cloud & Townsend, Dr. Laura, and–thanks to my grandma–Dr. Phil.
Yet all that change can be scary.
To indulge in Self Help is to say, “Self, let’s get some things in order and make a few updates to the way you’re seeing, doing, believing, and so on.” With no one else there to hold your hand, you dive right in, journal and all, to discover the issues in your past that could be holding you back from staying in the present.
It isn’t comfortable. But the renewing is delicious and freeing. So I’m all for it, even if it’s difficult. And although I haven’t read any Self Help paper backs recently, it’s interesting to note how impacting it has been on my life.
I’m constantly open to learning and growth. I listen to others with the hope to gain more understanding, read blogs and other online materials to have a broader perspective, and attempt to live life with an openness to other points of view.
Perhaps it’s a mentality that you can begin to adopt. Here’s a few of my favorites over the past decade or so:
Photo: Me and my happy family.
October 21, 2011 § 5 Comments
I don’t ever want to do something that gives me a superiority complex. I’ve been there. And I vividly remember what it feels like. I was often called “prideful” or “cocky” during my adolescent, teenage, and young adult years, but it was almost always because I was trying to compensate for something.
That “something” at the time happened to be my own desire to reach a state of maturity where I actually felt like I knew what I was doing. Like I had the coping skills to manage my thoughts, feelings, and actions. I would often overcompensate the appearance of maturity with a brazen, know-it-all fortitude.
It wasn’t at all helpful in many of my relationships. I can see why. No one likes a know-it-all. No one appreciates someone who goes around acting like something they’re not. And that’s what it comes down to. Instead of just being in the moment where life had placed me, I wanted to be beyond that. I literally can picture myself driving in the backseat of the car at age eight, wishing my adult years into existence and hoping that the large soda I was drinking was making me look cool. Silly, I know. But then again, that’s how a child’s mind works.
It’s taken me years to discover that I don’t have to “act” a certain way to be treated one way or another. I just need to accept myself for who I am, superior or not. Ha! Really though, I struggled with wanting to feel better than others so that I could make whatever was tearing me up inside with fear and self-doubt go away.
Something about engagement, marriage, motherhood and the struggle of it all has allowed me to simply relax in myself. I’m allowed to be introverted and become overwhelmed at parties. I’m allowed to worry about finances, make mistakes, and figure out what’s best for our family. I’m allowed to enjoy being a mom and the domestic life of cooking and cleaning. I’m allowed to be poor, have days where I accomplish nothing, finish all but the last bit of tea, and wear silly holiday slippers that Trever bought me years ago.
Maturity isn’t feeling superior or knowing everything. It’s allowing yourself to be you.
Community Discussion: How are you feeling about you? Are you feeling inferior? Superior? Do you like your level of maturity and where you’re at in life?
Photo: 24 Weeks and counting…
August 29, 2011 § 4 Comments
Trever and I were both raised in Christian homes. With Christian belief systems. And Christian values. And loads and loads of weekly Christian activities. One prevalent activity that Trever would bring up quite often with anxiety and fear at the beginning of our relationship was “evangelism.”
At some point in his youth, the evangelism of his family religion left him feeling nervous about talking to anyone about anything spiritual or close to it. Years ago we had a conversation that went something like this,
“I hate evangelizing! It makes me feel so awkward and on the spot. I’m afraid I won’t be able to answer all of their questions or know all the right responses.”
We’ve all been here before, regardless the conversation we’re fearing. Here’s the thing: We all evangelize.
“You’re a great evangelist, Trev. You evangelize every day!”
“I am? I do?”
It took him a few moments to grasp what I was getting at. He is one of the greatest evangelists I’ve ever met. He’s unabashed, smart, witty, intelligent, resourceful, encouraging, wise, and, when it comes down to it, very persuasive. It just took someone else to point that out for him to see it from a different perspective.
“You don’t have to evangelize about your religion or spirituality to be an evangelist. That’s just a term that numerous groups have adopted to express the definition.”
That’s the truth of it. Evangelism is everywhere and in every thing. It’s simple self-promotion in the littlest things we say, do, wear, and present by who we are. It oozes out of us, both positive and negative, regardless of what we intend. That’s the importance of making actionable thoughts and sharing those beliefs with others in a non-confrontational and beautiful way. Your creativity is just that opportunity. It speaks volumes of what you are evangelizing about.
To this day, Trever evangelizes about his discovery of micronutrients in veggies and how his wife makes him eat well, his love of oil paints, having a natural homebirth, following your passions and being creative, and the awesomeness of being a dad among others. The guy is always sharing his love and perspective with others in a passionate and authentic way. Sometimes I catch him in the act and he blushes and smiles, “What? Am I doing it again?” That’s his natural pastoral side that comes out when he’s with people. His first love. Okay, maybe third. Wait. Fourth. Ha!
Photo: Trever and Audrey sitting on a bench at Disneyland. Evangelizing.
August 12, 2011 § 2 Comments
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my life it’s that I have to believe in me before anyone else does. Period. I have to believe in my goals, my campaign, and my heart before you can see what I really want and what I’m going for.
If you think about it, this works whether a persons goal is worthy or not–because we’ve all known individuals who have created horrific goals with crazy outcomes that had a following…just read the headlines of today’s news. Let’s just hope they don’t read this post. I think they already know this little secret.
Furthermore, I desire to make my passions and intentions clear to those around me. I long to be an individual with purpose however I might grow through the ebb and flow of life.
I believe that’s natural and to think I will forever have the same vision would be to remain static and not allow myself to dream and filter it through my new found perspectives. I’m afraid of becoming stale more than I am of spider bites or food poisoning, two very real possibilities.
Just as it takes me to really love myself to love you, I have to truly believe in my own success to help cheer you on in your endeavors. That’s why personal development is so essential to every day life. Knowing thyself and being thine owns biggest fan allows your cup to overflow and create room to do so for others.
So today I choose to believe in my own success and I hope you will join me in this positive outlook. I truly believe that while we can’t fulfill all our fifteen year olds heart desired, we can do something even greater: we can succeed in the real world. And that, my friend, is quite an accomplishment.
Community Discussion: Do you believe in your own success? What would you like to accomplish that would make you feel successful in 2011? How has your view of yourself effected your success? (Chime in however you feel comfortable in the comments below on the topic of “success”!)
August 3, 2011 § Leave a Comment
Growing up my mother always told me to “think before you speak.” And for good reason: I was horrible at it. I would get myself into all sorts of trouble by saying what was on my mind to whomever I was speaking to. That’s right. It didn’t matter if the person was a peer, an adult, a parent, a teacher, a coach…I had zero tongue discrimination. Every last person would feel the lash whenever I felt so inclined and I didn’t feel one ounce bad about it. I had no shame.
A huge part of that was the fact that what I saw at home was too much shame all the time. You held in your thoughts, you put on a façade, you covered up your true feelings with lashes of anger or a false emotional neutralism. By the time I was out in the real world, I was ready to rumble. I’m more than certain my mother had moments of “I can’t take this girl anywhere!” on countless occasions. I’m sure I’ll get payback somehow, in one form or another.
When I interacted with others, I was ready to bring on the real, the raw, the unedited. Sounds like a reality show before they even aired. I wanted to offer the most authentic self my eight or twelve or fifteen year old soul could muster! And I wasn’t about to mess around with it. When you got Jenny, you got me. Not the pseudo me. You got the gut-reaction version of whatever I had going on inside of me and I’m sure my childhood friends can attest to that.
Therein lies the problem: the gut reaction side of us is so extremely valid, precious, and even sacred. It is the core that must be cherished and sought after. To give you a visual: often it’s the small child inside of you, screaming to get out. The one that knows what’s up, but has some growing to do. The gut reaction you needs to be treaded on lightly.
When something occurs in your life–a friend calls you and gives you a bit of harsh news, you get into a car accident, you lose your job–you have an immediate reaction. That reaction is important to note. It can lead to the unfolding of much truth that is hidden inside of you, truth that is covered in lies and/or a faulty childlike perspective. Regardless of where the reaction is initially stemming from (you may feel inclined to ignore it, work through and uncover it, or act on it), you should listen to your mama all these years later. Heed her advice and think before you speak or act upon whatever you may be feeling.
This has come up for me quite a few times in the past month: a repeating pattern of a beautiful opportunity that I have been able to take up life on. I have a situation, it brings up old stuff from the past, I choose to work through it rather than carrying it around with me into other situations, and definitely before saying or acting upon the one in which I am initially reacting to. Now, I’ll be honest, I don’t always do this. I wish I did. I have gotten a gabillion times better at doing so since my adolescence. That’s a whole lot.
I can’t tell you how thankful I am for not doing and saying things that would make me look as immature and unhealthy as I feel at times. I’ve not only held my tongue (mama would be proud!), I’ve dealt with both the issue in my mind and the one at stake before me in the present day. You know, the time period they call “reality.”
It’s your choice in the end: either act a fool like you did growing up or listen to your gut reaction and think before you speak.