Giving and receiving

It took me a reading of Marshall Rosenberg's Nonviolent Communication to realise the background of some things I've been feeling about myself for quite some time yet been unable to pinpoint.

One thing about me that people tend to be puzzled about is a capacity to give, usually unconditionally. Whether it's about listening, comforting or material things, I find comfort in the simple ability to improve someone's life. Make no mistake, there's a healthy amount of selfishness there since the act is its own gratification.

It's quite close to something that Ruth Bebermeyer once wrote:

I never feel more given to than when you take from me -
when you understand the joy I feel giving to you
and when you know my giving isn't done to put you in my debt.

NVC (non-violent communication) goes about altering the level of consciousness required to separate an entrenched ego from the self. Part of the process involves

  • observations
  • feelings
  • needs
  • requests

these ideas are wrapped into the concrete actions we observe that affect us, the feelings we have in relation to what we observe, the needs/values/etc that shape those feelings and finally the actions we take to enrich our lives.

These actions should involve a level of harmony where we also observe the feelings and needs of those around and act accordingly. This is part of a level of communication which can be non-verbal: learning to read those feelings and act without putting the self above everything else.

Lifting the blinds of the ego really does open up the world to a richer set of possible actions that can help the lives of those around and, by extension, of the self.

And here lies my problem. While I have no expectations of a 'transaction' (NVC does emphasise a lot the lack of a quid-pro-quo), I do hang on a need for reciprocity which is rarely (if ever) there.

When those moments (which could be fairly described as disappointment) accumulate, I do have a tendency to lash back and cause harm through a degree of violent communication. Unfortunately this accumulation tends to happen around the people closest to me (as those tend to spend more time around me thus giving me the opportunity of expression) ... which leaves me with the choice to put a bit of distance every now and then and recover my self from this state of disappointment ... a distance with could be emotional, physical or even both.

It's interesting to see the reflection of a deep need in this manner.