The Lightning Bug, the Lightning, & NVC: A Language of Life

Ok, I admit it: I’m a word nerd.

I love words because they take me deeper into my experience. They provide me with handholds when I’m struggling to explore the landscape inside me. They create bridges between your inner world and mine, carrying the energy of my experience to you so that you can taste it and come into luminous, resonant connection with me … and vice versa.

Words really matter. The childhood saying, “sticks and stones will break my bones but words can never hurt me” is simply not true: research has now shown that a physical blow and a verbal one alarm our nervous systems and affect our brains in the same ways.

But of course, our tender hearts already knew that.

Lightning_lightning bug_Mark TwainNonviolent/Compassionate Communication truly is a language, a way of expressing what’s true for us in a way that creates deeper, more authentic connection with ourselves, with others, and perhaps above all with Life Itself.

Want to see for yourself? Try this out: close your eyes, connect with how your body is feeling, and then say each of these, pausing a few moments to really notice and experience how your body feels after each one:

“I’m delighted.”

“I’m feeling delighted.”

“I’m feeling delight.”

What did you notice? Which phrase did you enjoy the most?

Now try these, again connecting with how your body feels, and taking some time to really notice and experience any changes in how your body feels after each one:

“I’m frustrated.”

“I’m feeling frustrated.”

“I’m feeling frustration.”

What did you notice this time? Which phrase felt best to you?

Most people find themselves liking the middle phrases better than the first ones, and experience significantly more relaxation, lightness, ease, and flow with the last phrases, even in the set that is expressing “negative” emotion.

What you just experienced is what happens when we use language in a way that allows more life energy to move through us. This is the essence of what NVC is teaching: that how we express ourselves matters. Even when we’re just talking to ourselves.

The first phrase (“I’m delighted/frustrated”) uses English in a way that says something has been done to us, and that our experience is static or ongoing. I AM [fill in the blank] says that I’m this way all the time; it labels me and tells my brain that this experience is all there is. Both of these slow or stop the flow of Life energy — can you feel it?

lightning_bugThe second phrase (“I’m feeling delighted/frustrated”) lets go of this labeling and some of this linguistic permanence, and acknowledges a bit more that what we’re experiencing is a momentary experience, rather than what we ARE. But, it still suggests that something has been done to us. The first one allows more energy to flow, while the second one still limits that flow somewhat. Can you feel it?

The third phrase (“I’m feeling delight/frustration”) focuses our attention on the present-moment experience arising within us, allowing all the Life energy to flow freely. Can you feel it?

If we long to expand your capacity for resonant empathy — the kind that opens people’s hearts and lets more Life energy in, creating that delicious experience of attunement and being held in a warm, compassionate embrace — one way we can do this is to compassionately notice which way we’re using language, and then simply say it over again “with feeling” and “without the -ED” (for example, “I’m feeling annoyance” instead of “I’m annoyED“).

Remember to be kind to yourself as you practice! Making ourself (or anyone else) wrong dramatically slows the learning process and actually adversely affects our physical health (increases alarm, suppresses the immune system, etc.).

There is a world of ever-more-luminous connection waiting for us, as we explore the landscape within and between us. Please share what you’re discovering, as you play with the enlivening power of lightning-right words!

Blessings on us all,





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