Non-violent communication

What a very strange time to be British. I’m heartbroken by the events of this recent week.

I went to bed on Thursday night confident that reason would prevail and that the majority of the British public would listen to the experts and intellectuals who made a clear, reasoned case for remaining in the EU. Obviously the country would choose to remain in the peaceful, collaborative relationship with its neighbouring countries. That the majority of the country would opt to vote with the far-right based on their blatant propaganda not so far removed from the Nazis’ was unthinkable. And yet…the Nazis were voted in, and my country has now voted to self-destruct.

So much confusion now and a lot of emotions. It’s going to take a long time to digest what this means and where this leaves us.

My initial response to the news was reactive to say the least. I went into a panic and, having got the pragmatic business of emailing the Spanish embassy to renew my Spanish passport out of the way, proceeded to indulge myself in a lot of ego-rage. A lot of judgement, finger pointing and despair.

I’m reading a book at the moment called ‘Change your questions change your life’ which is coming in rather useful. What a fortunate case of serendipity that I happen to have just turned to the following page in the book as this all kicked off. A useful map to navigate  the murky waters of my own mind right now.

choicemapRegardless what the situation is, we’re constantly facing things that impact us mentally and emotionally.  Although it’s easy to feel powerless and reactive, we can choose how we respond to these situations by choosing the sort of questions we ask.  We can choose between going into judger mindset or learner mindset.

Judger mindset

Unhelpful questions that lead us down a narrow alley into the judger state of mind are things like:

Why are they so stupid?

What’s wrong with people?

Why bother/what’s the point?

Whose fault is it?

You can see from the picture where this gets us: The ‘Judger Pit’. Irresistible as it feels to head in this direction, it’s not much fun down there. Questions that lead us down into the judger pit make us feel pessimistic, depleted, depressed and like victims. We really want to get ourselves out of there as quickly as possible. Ideally we don’t want to go there at all, but realistically we’re all ‘recovering judgers’.  So don’t waste time beating yourself up for falling into this, just change your questions to open your mind up again and get yourself out onto the positive road of the learner mindset. I’m finding this extremely challenging right now, but it’s useful to be aware of this map, for whenever I’m ready to come out of my judger pit.

Learner mindset

Learner mindset questions include:

What happened?

What am I longing for right now?

Are my current actions going to get me that?

What can we learn here?

What are other people thinking, feeling and wanting?

What are my choices right now?

How might this be good?

What’s useful about this?

These questions help us experience more openness and lightness, more energy and optimism, which will ultimately help us get better results.

We all ask ourselves questions from both mindsets. With awareness, we have the capacity to choose at any moment which questions will frame and shape our thinking, listening, speaking, and relating.

Notice the sort of questions you’re asking and try switching from judger to learner to see how you feel. I’ll be doing my best in the coming weeks to pull myself into learner mindset. But for now, my heart’s not quite done grieving what we’ve lost. 

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Author: Sam Vale Noya

Yoga instructor currently living and teaching in Reading, UK.