by Miki Kashtan
One of the biggest treasures I have is a diary that my mother kept about me when I was a child. Most of the entries are from when I was about 5. I love it, in large part, because I so completely recognize myself in that girl. One of the entries describes a conversation I had with my mother in which I wanted to bring together all the prime ministers of the world so as to stop war. I couldn’t understand why war continued. In another entry, I asked my mother why we had to pay money to get our groceries; why wouldn’t everyone just be able to go to the store and get what they need.
The questions related to these two stories continue to reverberate throughout my life, along with others. I have enormous passion for finding ways to transform how we live on this planet to reduce and transform violence; to create a world that works for all; to have relationships that nourish us; to have workplaces where workers, bosses, and communities thrive. The list goes on and on. And I know that I am not alone in wanting to create this change.
Since 1995, I have been using Nonviolent Communication (NVC) as my guiding compass for reflecting on my inner life, my relationships, the world around me, and the larger questions that are always on my mind, never far from front and center. Using this lens, I have a different experience inside, I relate differently to people, and I think differently about the world. Starting in 1996, I have been sharing what I have learned with others. Initially, I was working with individuals, and seeing changes in their lives and relationships. Later, I started teaching what I know, and saw others get excited, learn, and create shifts in their lives. A few years ago I started writing some of what I have learned. With the advent of blogs I became interested in sharing what I think and learn and experience with more people than might read my articles or come to workshops of mine. I still had to work through internal blocks. Despite the feedback from others, I had (and continue to have) doubts about why others would want to hear what I am thinking. But the passion overcame the doubt, and I am launching this blog.
What I hope to do here is share what I learn and explore as it’s happening. For example, today, while teaching people in the BayNVC Leadership Program about how to give feedback, I became aware of the parallel between how feedback loops are blocked both systemically and interpersonally. That is something I would write about, so that more than the 30 people in the group could reflect on the absence of feedback in our lives and in our systems. Perhaps in this way I could contribute to creating a culture of open-feedback, where we all learn how to give feedback (see the article on the BayNVC website), and how to be more open to receiving feedback from others.
I might also write about how to bring more empathy to the public conversation about political issues, so that town hall meetings can be opportunities for expanded understanding and working towards solutions that transcend polarized positions. Or about how to work internally to transform habits of blame and criticism so that we can have more harmonious relationships.
So many of us live with a sense of resignation, both personally and beyond; of having to just make do with a life that is, ultimately, not satisfying. My hope is to ignite a sense of possibility in those who read this blog. Perhaps this will show up as a growing willingness to open one’s heart to others in times of conflict. Perhaps it will translate into more self-acceptance, or more capacity to reach for vulnerability. Whatever form it takes, I wish for a way to contribute and to inspire a sense of meaning, purpose, and power in your own life.
My first entry is about the practice of gratitude. You can read about that next.