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  • Writer's pictureJuliana

Spring Cleaning... For Your Head

Spring is here, which for many means spring cleaning - the often therapeutic purge/scrub throughout one's home and possessions. Maybe every spring you clean your room, car, office, closet, etc. When you finish, you probably get feelings of satisfaction and joy from needs met around order, structure, and maybe even peace and ease. Clutter can be distracting and overwhelming, and sometimes even infuriating. We clear the physical clutter in our lives to have space, and ultimately, peace, but what about the clutter in our heads?

Okay hear me out... You are likely human, which means you have likely knowingly or unknowingly filled your head with some things that don't meet any of your needs. I'm talking about things like blame, harsh assessments, and stories. Not only do we not need these things, but like mold in our homes, they tend to fester, grow, and cause harm.

I'll give you an example. Maybe you have a story (common NVC term for judgment about someone that isn't necessarily based in reality but something you have thought of in your mind) that your boss is lazy and inconsiderate. You repeat this story in your head every time they ask you to do something. Then you vent to your co-workers about it, and they start agreeing with you and sharing their thoughts and judgments as well. In that moment, maybe there's some satisfaction in the camaraderie of it all - the knowledge that someone else is also suffering in a similar way.

But let's think about what is actually happening in that scenario.

My guess is that 9 times out of 10, no one is truly processing their feelings and needs around the situation; no one is solving any problems; and I'm almost certain that no one is thinking about the needs of your boss. Instead, what's happening is the stories and judgments are being fueled by each other. They start to grow and become stronger, more powerful within you. You end up becoming angrier, and that can sometimes mean less rational. Now, you are living in a place of irritation and upset that is growing in intensity every day, even when, objectively, your boss hasn't done anything specifically to intensify that anger. You did it yourself.

We create our own realities. Yes, there are external things that happen around us that are out of our control. Of course. However, we can choose to see them for exactly what they are (observationally), or we can choose to make assessments about them, judge them, and create stories in our heads that then dictate our internal realities.

Can you relate to this? Maybe it's not your boss. Maybe it's your mother-in-law, or your teenager, or a politician, or heck - a song on the radio even. Whatever or whoever it is has as much power over you as you allow it to have space in your mind. So maybe it's time for some spring cleaning up there.

What does this look like? Well, in nonviolent communication (NVC), there are a plethora of tools for this very thing. Actually, almost every aspect of NVC is in service of this kind of "spring head cleaning". For example, NVC focuses on observations rather than evaluations and judgments, meaning it cuts out all the stories and fluff and leaves you with what is actually real. Additionally, NVC helps one to find clarity on their feelings and needs. This clarity alone can often quell intensity around a situation, but even if not, it is the foundation of any effective problem solving. There are also tools like enemy image processing, which gives clarity as well as creates space for compassion for other. Ultimately, NVC gives us the tools to see the world for exactly what it is, have awareness of how we react to it, and then replace blame and judgment with empathy and compassion for self and others.

This practice can free up so much space in one's mind, clearing it of animosity and stories, and bring one a similar sense of peace and ease that they experience from cleaning their home. Now, please note the word "practice". While I have a judgment that NVC borders the realm of pure magic, I will warn that it doesn't necessarily accomplish all that I'm spouting overnight. This is a practice that takes time, dedication, and ideally guidance. Luckily, there are sources out there (and right here!) that can help. The Bigbie Method's Intro to Nonviolent Communication course is an 8-week course that fosters a deeper awareness around all of these things, as well as a true understanding of the intention, framework, and power of NVC. If you want to give yourself the gift of a clean mind this spring, you can check it out for yourself here.

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