This Being Human

I first heard this poem around 1998, before I came across NVC. I remember thinking something like, “Yeah, right!  I am so far away from that. And there’s no way I’m EVER going to meet them at the door laughing*.”

NVC gave me what I needed to learn how to truly welcome all that I feel, because it showed me how ALL my feelings are guiding me towards thriving. 

As I’ve traveled on my decades-long journey towards real authenticity, NVC has shown me that my “negative” feelings — especially the most uncomfortable, painful ones — are inviting me to receive the treasure that’s hiding behind their often scary masks: the long-unmet Life-needs that their pain is asking me to turn towards, and finally meet with awareness, compassion, and self-valuing.

Will I listen to my most painful feelings, that are asking — begging — me to come and put my arms around them, to welcome them and the things I most long for into my life?

The answer now is: yes, most of the time. (Nope, still not all the time. There’s still no cure for being human.) I still don’t meet them at the door laughing. But now when I hear them knocking, I get whatever support I need so that I can welcome even my most difficult feelings with an open, glad heart, because …

I know that something truly wonderful is waiting for me, if I will only put my arms around my shame, my depression, my resentment, my malice, and find a way to acknowledge and honor the TOTALLY LEGITIMATE Life-needs their presence tells me have gone unmet for far too long.  

That tender embracing, deep honoring, and fiercely gentle aligning has never yet failed me. And over the decades it has brought me a profound security, and a vast and transforming peace.

But I didn’t do it alone. In fact, it’s only been within the circle of authentic, resonant, compassionate community that it’s become relatively easy to work through my most difficult, charged feelings and unwittingly distorted perceptions.

Actually, it turns out that because of how our brains are wired — because of what it means to be a social species — we can only learn how to embrace our full humanity and become All That We Are … when our experience is “caught” and warmly mirrored by at least one other person.  (Years of experience suggest that something magical happens with 5 to 8 people in the circle.)

In our Thriving Life community we create safe, respectful, mindful spaces where we can, with compassion and dignity, and even humor!, tell the whole truth about what lies inside and between us…

in a way that allows us to live in alignment with our deepest values, and to connect with the authenticity that creates genuine belonging and intimacy.

I hope you’ll join me on this greatest of all human adventures:  the journey toward wholeness and fulfillment that our most uncomfortable feelings are the doorway to.

Blessings on us all. No exceptions.






The Guest House
This being human is a guesthouse.
Every morning, a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
[They] may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door [gladly]* and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

— Jellaludin Rumi, translation by Coleman Barks, [adjustment by Vika]


* Rather than “gladly,” Coleman Barks translates this as “laughing.”  And I want my own heart to open as far as it can, when I read this poem.  So, I’ve changed “laughing” to “gladly,” to support me in that.  It works for me.

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