On My Mind #4

I have been MIA for quite a while, but now I’m finally back with some input on kindness, nonviolent communication, being opinionated, the feeling of inadequacy, and last but not least, the concept of mindful stress. Read on and let me know what you think!

Being kind to ourselves and others

NVC: A Language of Life, 3rd Edition by Marshall B. Rosenberg, PhD

Reading “Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life” by Dr Marshall Rosenberg has been an eye-opening experience for me. Thanks to Giang for the great recommendation ♥️ I always tried to treat others kindly, yet at times it was hard to determine which concrete actions would promote kindness. Nonviolent communication offered me exactly the tools that I needed. I realized how we are quick to judge, and how our judgment can imply violent communication. I also learned that violence does not need to be obvious to the eyes, such as fights or quarrels. In fact, even the most peaceful-sounding conversations can inflict immense pain on both counterparts.

Since reading the book, I found myself constantly replaying the conversations I’ve had with others in my mind. More often than not, I could always find a more constructive way of expression for what I’ve said. It is one thing to know the right thing, and another to actually do the right thing. I tried not to beat myself up for my unfavourable expressions. Yet, when I took the time to be mindful of what I wanted to say, I felt inadequate as a dialogue partner, because I took so long to navigate the feelings and needs of my partner. Also, being a self-critical person, I instantly felt bad whenever I could grasp what my dialogue partner felt or needed.

Moreover, practising nonviolent communication also pushes me to express my feelings. I am naturally reserved about sharing my inner thoughts with others, partly because it’s chaotic inside my mind, partly because I don’t want to make it about me. I realized that this way of thinking is rather counter-productive because it often leaves me and my dialogue partners with unsatisfactory conversations. It’s no wonder that I often felt misunderstood or misheard.

I love how nonviolent communication can be easily applied in real-world situations. Even though it’s not intuitive at first, I believe that being a mindful conversation partner would not only foster better relationships, but it would also help me discover myself through social contexts.

Having opinions & feeling inadequate

Somewhere between my teenage years and adulthood, I lost my self-confidence in voicing my opinions. It felt like the more life experience I’ve gathered, the less black-and-white my worldview becomes. Everything could be put in the grey zone. Nothing is inherently good nor inherently bad. I believe this way of seeing things has mostly been beneficial for me since it helped me find a balanced stance. However, I’m becoming more aware of the side effects – I find it hard to make up my mind even about trivial things.

This probably explains why I was able to resonate so much with Herman, the protagonist in a short film called “Herman the German“. My situation is by far in no way as dramatic as his, but we do share the same “fear”. Indecisiveness plagues my intellectuality, it impairs my logic, making me feel inadequate. I ask myself if I associate having opinions with being quick to judge because oftentimes, people who have strong opinions are the first to voice their concerns. It’s important to stress here that I admire these people a lot, and often times I see this as a positive trait in people, as long as these opinions stay constructive. I wish I were that opinionated.

I’m training to be more subjective through mental debates. Whenever a matter occupies my mind now, I’d try to get to the bottom of it, instead of habitually finding a neutral standpoint and brush it off. In the meantime, nevertheless, I don’t want to put any unnecessary pressure on my psyche. Thus, these debates will continue to happen in my mind only, until I feel more comfortable with voicing my thoughts.

Mindful stress

Could there be such a thing as mindful stress? To me, it means sustaining a “healthy” level of stress in daily life, enough to make one take initiative for one’s own life. In this light, stress isn’t necessarily bad. It depends largely on how one reacts to stress. In daily conversations, we often speak of stress as the culprit of our emotional distress. It implies that we give up our power to an intangible factor as if we cannot decide the course of our lives. Well, it’s probably true that we cannot predict our future. However, would we rather live in misery or would we live more happily with an illusory sense of control?

I believe that being mindful of stressful events does not make it any less stressful, yet this realisation could serve as a stepping stone towards acceptance. Accepting that stress is inevitable neutralises its stigma. By incorporating relaxation or stress-relieving activities into our lives, we could strive towards a mental-physical equilibrium.

The level of stress is certainly fluid because it depends on what is happening in our life. When there is a lot going on in our private life, even a small misunderstanding at work can add tremendous stress to our psychological wellbeing. What I find more interesting is, however, our perception of stress when everything is going well in both professional and private life. The Evolution trained our mind to look for suspicious patterns, to the point where we sometimes feel like things are just too good to be true. We seem to be unable to fully enjoy something, let alone to completely relax. This is where I propose the concept of mindful stress. Harmless, yet effective doses of stress that could help people feel like they are in control, yet not serious enough incite any threats.

So how can we move forward with this proposition in mind? This may sound ridiculous, but imagine looking at your life as being at the beach. When you’re sunbathing on the shore, you may notice the danger of UV rays on your skin, which could cause annoying sunburns, yet bring you a great tan. As you come to acceptance, you learn to appreciate the warmth of the sun more, as well as the fact that you are lucky enough to be there at that moment. After all, you have sacrificed a great deal! When you’re swimming in the water and got caught in an undercurrent, it’s a life-threatening danger now! How stressful, but this stressor ensures that you will keep swimming for your life until the very last breath. On both extremes, stress has proven to be beneficial for you, as soon as you learn to acknowledge that you can’t live without it.

Does it make any sense for you? Do you also need a certain amount of stress in your life? I’m curious about how it is for you, let me know in the comments.

That’s all for now, over and out,
P

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