What’s Different about Vika & the Thriving Life Approach

merry-go-roundrSince I was very young (6 or 8 years old), I’ve had a deep belief that we’re meant to thrive — to feel connected, safe (confident our needs will be met), and happy. So for me, it’s not a matter of IF we can get what we most deeply (authentically) long for; it’s a matter of learning HOW.

If Life is designed to support my thriving, then what is my part, that I need to play, to cultivate and manifest that?  As a result, I’m always inquiring into and noticing what works and what doesn’t work, and I’m comfortable making up my own way of understanding or doing things, if how everyone else is doing something doesn’t seem to work.

I do this with NVC, as well as with everything else. Here are a few specific examples:

  • In The Book (NVC: A Language of Life), Marshall teaches that “natural giving” is the goal of our practice. I have a different perspective; I believe that “natural giving” is just one of the things that arise in us, when we’re THRIVING.  When we’re thriving, we feel happy … and our “natural” tendency to be generous, kind, patient, playful, creative, etc. also spontaneously arise in us.  (And heaven knows, as a recovering helpaholic, learning how to “give more” — naturally or otherwise — was the very last thing I was looking for, when I first encountered NVC.) So, for me, the focus is on fostering our own and others’ THRIVING, not natural giving.
  • I prefer not to use the standard “NVC formula” for making empathy guesses (“are you feeling X because you’reV_Nov2016_12 needing Y?”) even when teaching basic NVC.  Instead, I encourage guessing ALL of our own or others’ feelings, and then guessing ALL of our own or others’ needs.  I do this because I really want to support all of us in connecting to what’s most deeply true or alive for us in this moment, and that’s not something we THINK “up in our heads,” it’s something we FEEL with our bodies.Also, the truth is we don’t often have just one feeling at a time, or one need a time, so many feelings can “map on to” one need, and one feeling can “map on to” many needs. I just don’t find value in the one-on-one mapping or in the intellectual “figuring out” that that stimulates in me. I find a lot of value in discovering and connecting fully what I’m feeling and needing.And when we connect fully with the felt sense of our experience, I noticing our aliveness and energy and clarity and inspiration all increase — all of which seem to me to be what make up our limitless, gracious, authentic power.  What could be more worth cultivating than that?
  • I like to distinguish between physical safety (which is definitely a need) and emotional safety, which I call a “pointer need.”  What “safety” is really about is having a calm, relaxed nervous system — a nervous system that doesn’t think we’re in danger.  If our nervous system is alarmed, that means we have one or more needs that either aren’t being met right now, or that we’re not confident they’ll be met in the future. So, in order to meet our need for emotional safety, we have to find out which specific needs aren’t being met/might not be met.  There’s no way to directly meet a “need” for emotional safety without identifying and picking strategies that are effective at meeting other needs.
  • V in NassauIf you’re wanting to “learn NVC,” I like beginning with what you already know and what’s going on in your life, right now, that’s important to you, and then weaving NVC into and out of those real-life, current situations and longings.  You already know a lot about being human in your past and present environment, especially about what you want, and about what doesn’t work for you.  You’re probably here because you want to start finding some things that actually work for your right-now, real, everyday life.  And that is my specialty.
  • The Thriving Life approach (developed over 42 years of study and research) also deeply values and cultivates everyone’s personal authenticity and transparency — including mine and my Thriving Life certification students’,  because I believe openly acknowledging our genuine shared humanity — from our “warts and farts and ugly parts” to all that’s magnificent in each of us, and everything in between — is essential to the creation of a safe, resonant, compassionate space in which real transformation and healing can happen.

Most of all I long to offer all of us (including me) a sense of safety, belonging, freedom, openness, clarity, ease, and empowerment, and so I feel a lot of delight and fulfillment every time someone tells me they find the way I teach and “do” NVC much more accessible and easy to apply than what they’ve experienced before.

I also feel delight and fulfillment when someone tells me the personal authenticity and transparency I bring to all of my work is one of the most powerful and helpful parts of what I offer.  (I also feel a lot of sadness, that people tell me this is still very rare among leaders, facilitators, and educators.)  Comments like this leave me with a sense that I’m fulfilling on what I’m most deeply committed to.V_Feb2016_V2r

Perhaps the thing I love most about NVC is the encouragement to live from what’s alive!  I believe our inner sense of what feels most right to us is wisest, most powerful guide, and for me learning NVC is, more than anything else, about learning how to feel what’s alive, and practicing living from that with others who share the same commitment.

And so, if it feels alive for you, I’d be delighted to have you “dip your toe in” and see if our Thriving Life community might just be the “home of your heart” that you’ve been looking for all your life. For many of us, that is exactly what our community is.

Blessings on us all,

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