A Language of Life

February 20, 2018 | By More

by Rachelle Lamb


February 7th marks three years since the death of Dr. Marshall Rosenberg, author of the highly acclaimed best seller Nonviolent Communication: A Language Of Life. Rosenberg’s seminal work continues to be utilized as a powerful tool to help people effectively resolve conflict, and yet it was also his dream that NVC be a tool for social change.

After almost 20 years of offering NVC trainings and coaching, it would be naïve of me to say that it’s an easy sell to focus on the social change dimensions of NVC. And that is because we in modern society are maily concerned with our own lives and relationships. We want to fix and mend what’s not working. We are less interested in the bigger picture, especially if it means making changes that are uncomfortable. It’s understandable and unfortunate.

One of the things that set a physician apart from his or her peers is an ability to make accurate diagnoses. When the patient seeks relief from an ailment, does the physician view the body as a machine? If so, medication will be prescribed to treat the symptoms on the basis of physical symptoms. For example, anti-depressants for depression or blood pressure medication for hypertension. OR .. does the physician view the body and soul as belonging to a larger living landscape that influences and impacts the health of the individual? If so, the physician will question the patient about his or her life in various areas in order to make a more holistic diagnosis. Food choices, exercise, lifestyle, relationships, work environment and stress levels will likely be discussed.

Most of what ails us is broader than our symptoms. The loss of connection that prevails in so many areas of our lives can be attributed largely to the loss of connection between ourselves and the earth, and also to the loss of village. It could be said that we have become so accustomed to unnatural ways of living that we don’t really know what we need in order to lead healthy lives and cultivate healthy relationships. Would we even recognize genuine healthy connection and belonging if we saw or it? Worse still, would we even want it?

Writer D.H. Lawrence wrote: “Oh what a catastrophe, what a maiming of love when it was made a personal, merely personal feeling, taken away from the rising and setting of the sun, and cut off from the magic connection of the solstice and equinox. This is what is the matter with us. We are bleeding at the roots, because we are cut off from the earth and sun and stars, and love is a grinning mockery, because, poor blossom, we plucked it from its stem on the tree of life and expected it to keep on blooming in our civilised vase on the table.”

Let’s recognize that questions like how do I get my child to cooperate, or how do I get my partner to open up, or how do I deal with anger are best approached holistically. Interdependence and interconnection IS the way of life. This means that our conduct with each other and the words we speak do not occur in isolation but are rooted in forces larger than what we see.

For me, teaching NVC in these troubled times has become an exploration into the larger socio-cultural narrative that facilitates disconnection. It’s all too easy to conclude that our spouse or child or friend is at fault when tensions rise. Fortunately an expanded approach doesn’t diminish the importance of taking a solid look at what transpires between people and developing skills to better navigate relationships. It’s hugely relevant and core to what I teach. However I have found that people become much more discerning, generous, compassionate and resourceful when they explore the larger landscapes in which their lives and relationships unfold at the same time that they develop those skills.

Lastly, a gift for you dear reader. Something I wrote a few years ago inspired by a desire to lay a garland at the feet of a new year. 2018 is still young and Valentine’s day is not far off. Drink in ..

May you fall madly in love this year .. in love with someone who unhinges your tired trajectory, in love with a spouse of several years who might be aching for lightning, in love with demanding children and crazy relatives .. in love with the particular pedigree of genius insanity that has perhaps claimed you in spite of your reluctance .. and certainly in love with an animal, a cloud, a redwood, the wild .. these at least once a day. May you fall in love with this fragile jewel of a world, with hard work, real learning, just causes, petitioning and prayers. May you fall in love with wonder itself, with the grand mystery, with all that feeds you in order that you may live .. and with the responsibility that that confers. May you fall in love with heartbreak and seeing how it’s stitched into everything. May you fall in love with the natural order of things and with tears, tenderness and humility. May this be a magnificent year for you. May you fall deeply, madly, hopelessly, inextinguishably in love ..

Rachelle Lamb’s lifelong interest in human development, relationship dynamics and the roles that culture and ecology play in people’s lives, along with her ability to skillfully pave the way for transformational dialogue between people consistently produces powerful learning experiences for individuals and audiences. She lives in Victoria BC. Learn more: www.RachelleLamb.com

Category: Articles, Counselling & Coaching

Comments are closed.