Healing & Reconciliation Process
(courtesy of the work of Aya Caspi)
- Empathic Connection: Invite the other person to share their pain however they express it. Connect empathically with the present pain in the other person, opening your heart to them without
defensiveness. Maintain this focus as much as you can until the person is complete and expresses a desire to hear what arises in you. (You may ask them if they are complete and would like to hear how you feel).
- Expression: Self-responsibility / acknowledgement – Acknowledge how your choices might have contributed to the other person’s experience, without taking any responsibility for their experience or self blame.
- Expression: Mourning – Focus on expressing what needs of yours were not met by the action you took. As much as you can, connect deeply with your unmet needs so you can share yourself without defensiveness Check how the person feels when you are done, and see if they are interested in and ready for the next step.
- Expression: Understanding for your action – Some of the pain we experience when other’s actions don’t meet our needs has to do with bewilderment about how someone could possibly act that way. There is a deep need for understanding and re-opening our hearts to another’s humanity even when they have acted in ways that were painful for us. This step is intended to meet this need for understanding of the feelings and needs that led you to take the actions that contributed to pain for the other person. Focus on contributing to the other person, not on wanting to justify or even receive their understanding or forgiveness. You are still focused on the other person even though you are sharing your own pain. Therefore, again, the more you can connect with your own humanity (the needs that led you to do what you did), the more you’ll be able to speak without defensiveness, and with full compassion and care for both of you.
- Agreements / Requests – Explore with the other person what you can do or say differently in the future to act in ways that are caring for all.
See also: NVC Mediation
A Powerful Model for Healing and Reconciling Conflict
To be a human being is to regularly be in conflict with oneself and others. Since we are biological beings, we are not able to be inside another person’s experience, which means that each of us has our unique frame of reference on the world. Brain scientists tell us that our experience shapes how the mind perceives the world. We all know this intuitively. In a simple example, you and I can go to a movie together, and you might be impassioned while I might be bored. The difference lies in each of us, not in the movie. In a similar vein, scientists also suggest that, in ways that are not yet fully known, the brain in effect has several conversations happening simultaneously in the process of producing what we experience as a unified consciousness of a present situation. Thus, both inside our minds and with other people we are immersed in conversations that contain differing perspectives, and conflicts inherently arise.
I have found NVC mediation to be an effective means of reconciling these differing perspectives, so much so that I have taken it on as an all-encompassing life practice. The same skills apply whether I am working on a conflict within my own head, a conflict between myself and another person, or a conflict between two or more people, or whether I am seeking to return to presence in the process of the every day occurrences of my life. Taking on the practice of NVC mediation means to constantly hone and expand the capacity to contribute to the reconciliation and healing of conflict. In this article, I’ll explain the basic premise and process of NVC mediation and where it came from, then go into detail on a number of characteristics of this form that I find make it a particularly potent model… (continues)