Yesterday I decided to start a new project: for 30 days, I will practice nonviolent communication (NVC) on social media. NVC is based on the framework presented by Marshall Rosenberg in his book Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life. I’ll explain below how this is related to self-confidence, but first a brief summary of NVC.
This practice can involve any aspect of the NVC framework. It is essentially a way of practicing empathy through language, and it consists of four components:
- Observation without evaluations.
- Expression of feelings related to observation.
- Expression of met or unmet needs and desires that lead to these feelings.
- Concrete request for action that will help meet these needs/desires.
There are two parts to this, and one needs to participate in at least one of these parts to participate in NVC:
- Expression of our own observations, feelings, needs/desires, and requests.
- Listening for the observations, feelings, needs/desires, and requests of others without evaluating them.
So what does this have to do with self-confidence? A lot. NVC can be practiced with oneself as with another, because we can speak violently to ourselves as well. Of course, how NVC impacts our relationships with others also greatly affects our self-confidence. For this is a language of affirmation: of affirming our reality, our experiences, our existence, and of working to fulfill all our needs. What can be more confidence-inspiring than that?
Example of NVC with myself: I sometimes think, “I’m not very smart.” (Observation.) I feel increasingly anxious as I travel down this mental path; my confidence dwindles. (Feeling.) Because I am needing self-acceptance and self-worth. (Needs.) Request to myself: can I try to focus on observations instead of evaluations of myself in the future? Answer from myself: I’m afraid it will be extremely difficult, but I will try.
A Language of Life
After all, I’m currently working on becoming fully fluent in French, and that is something I’ve long considered extremely difficult as well. But I no longer consider it an insurmountable task to do so independently, and without even visiting a Francophone country. Indeed, I am working on doing just this now that I have found a means that I believe will get me there.
I studied French for four years independently in high school, and then stopped for an even longer period of time. This year I discovered that I could enormously and quickly improve my listening comprehension by listening to French (mostly via radio) day in and day out, either actively or passively in the background. And that this greatly improves my speaking, writing, and reading skills, allows me to learn French with setting aside time for it specifically, and is a form of immersion. I’m actually now convinced that the primary way that children learn their native language is via listening, and thus it is a most natural way to learn a foreign language.
Nevertheless, I expect it will take me at least a solid 6 months or so of this type of immersion before my listening comprehension is fluent. It will make about 11 years since I first started studying French that I finally achieve fluency, assuming this happens. While not insurmountable, this is still a massive task. To become fluent in a foreign language is itself foreign to me, and the enormity of it still strikes me.
As NVC is a kind of language – to a large extent, foreign – I’ve begun to look at it similarly. I’ll start by studying and practicing the basics, practicing online (same as I did with French). Just as I can’t expect someone to just come and teach me French in a class or two, or to read a French lesson book, and suddenly be at a high level, I can’t expect that I would achieve the same just from reading Rosenberg’s book and going to a couple of NVC meetings. It’s an investment, like any other language.
Once I’ve practiced the basics on my own for at least 30 days, then I’ll be much more prepared to start using it when conflicts arise. Or at least to practice with people without necessarily having to crack open the book every time. I fully expect to still be a beginner in NVC at the end of the month, but I will have a foundation I didn’t have before.
In the past, I’ve found myself talking about how I need to use NVC instead of actually using it, because I’d never practiced it before the conflict arose. This happened in my last sexual relationship. Let me tell you, my partner did not like this and expressed a lot of resistance to the NVC framework as an idea. It’s this relationship falling apart (due mostly to insufficient communication, especially NVC) that has primarily inspired this new project to work on NVC. This was my first long-term sexual relationship, and I am horrified of the idea of having the same communication problem in my next committed relationship. In order to feel confident going into another relationship, I think I really must work on this.
But also, I realize that an enormous barrier to my continued development of self-confidence is in my infrequent use of NVC in speaking to myself and others. I really consider this to be a language of life, because I feel so alive when it is put effectively into practice.
Shout-out to Avid for hanging out with me this week and expressing great interest in practicing NVC with me (which we did a little bit, book in hand), as this has also been a great impetus for this project.
I plan on using Twitter as well as blogging and maybe Facebook for this project.
I’ll count yesterday as Day 1 as I practiced a bit on my primary Twitter account: @purityismyth.
If anyone wants to join me, I’ll be hashtagging some of my Tweets #nvc.
I may write some NVC posts in French also, especially if I end up buying Rosenberg’s book in French. That way I can learn both languages at once!
J’écrirai peut-être quelques affiches sur CNV en français, surtout si je décide d’acheter le livre de Rosenberg en français. De cette façon, je pourrais apprendre tous les deux en même temps !
For You / À Vous
I’ve got an exercise for anyone who wants to participate and needs a prompt. Say,
how do you feel about this post (or blog)? What do you observe, free of evaluation, that leads to this feeling?
What need or want is or isn’t being fulfilled, resulting in this feeling?
If you have any requests to fulfill this need or want, share below or via Twitter!