I wake up in the morning, and begin to feel body pain, sinus pain, low energy. During the day the sinus pain increases, and by the evening it has reached a point that it is quite intense. Oh shit. Tomorrow I am facilitating a two-day introductory training. I hope it has cleared by the morning.
At 2.00 am, I wake up. I can’t breathe through my nose and my mouth is as dry the last Belgian summer. I drift in and out of sleep for the next few hours. Crawling out of bed at 05.50 am, I feel exhausted. My head feels full. There is pressure and more pain. It is all over my body now. Do I call in sick, or do I go?
I take a moment to connect to the needs that I will be fulfilling by going: Contribution, support, sharing, reliability, care, collaboration and safety. From this energy, it is an easy choice. I’m going. I am moving more slowly, feeling hazy, and connected to my needs, I am content with my choice.
An hour later, I am on the train. Feeling relaxed and enjoying the trip. After the second train change and waiting in the cold for some time, I begin to doubt my decision. My body is beginning to burn. “Care, care for others?” I ask myself “What about care for myself??” I take a moment to look inside. I see a part of me resisting these feelings. Judging these feelings. Wanting things to be different. Thinking thoughts like “I can’t do it, and I shouldn’t have done this”. I’m needing rest!! “How am I going to rest today when I am offering a training? All day!!”
I could choose to call it off. Call in sick. Turn around. Go home. Sleep. Rest. I have learnt in NVC that I have the power to choose, and the question arises” Where is my choice? Is it in the choice to go, or not to go, or is it somewhere else?”
I remind myself that there is another choice available to me. The real power to choose lies in how I choose to meet myself, how I react to my inner experience. Do I meet my inner world with judgement and resistance, or do I meet my inner world with care and compassion? To truly listen without judgement. Not even judging my judging. Just being with. I take some time to just feel what I am feeling. Listen to the resistance. Self-empathy. Listening to and being with what is alive in this moment. Not trying to change anything. The beauty of my longing for rest and self-care becomes apparent. I can be connected to the fullness of these needs without having to make any external changes. I get in touch with the life energy that is always present regardless of the physical sensations that I am experiencing. I had just lost contact with them by believing the judgements that were arising.
This is a moment to moment choice that I can make. It takes awareness and presence to constantly be available to listen to what lives in me, and to allow whatever arises to have space to be heard. I could have stayed at home and resisted feeling unwell. I would have suffered. My power does not lie in what I choose to do, but rather in how I choose to be. When I choose to welcome all that arises in me with open arms and ears, then I am free.
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Nic Burnand and Sarah Dekker are CNVC certified trainers in Nonviolent Communication.