As a facilitator in Nonviolent Communication (NVC), I was excited to join the Inner Activist’s Conscious Use of Power workshop back in November 2014. I wanted to learn new ways to help people become everyday conflict heroes, and I got plenty of inspiration from the workshop’s participants and our facilitators, Gary, Camille, and Natasha.
In my work with NVC, I've seen time and again how hard it is to stay in conflict - to "conflict well" - with a commitment to self-responsibility and to empathy. Contrary to the expectations of many people who join my groups, the heart of nonviolence for me is turning toward the heat of tension and difference, rather than turning away.
Here are 4 super-hero moves I learned from the Inner Activist:
- Turn into Fluid: Process Work (one of the main approaches used by the workshop’s facilitators) talks about a "fluid" level of reality below the surface layer of static roles, identities, and bodies. Getting fluid means loosening our own boundaries, being able to see things through each other's eyes, and not getting stuck in one position.
- Use Your X-ray Vision: Ever had a conflict where you just knew there was more going on than met the eye? Process Work helps us see the unseen, and name them: the "ghosts" behind the actions, the nonverbal cues, the daydreams, images and flickers of awareness just on the edge of our sight. Naming these brings in the influences of systems, culture, and the subconscious, and helps people understand why a conflict seems to have a life of its own.
- Flame On: Conflict gets explosive when we try to bottle it. So why not let it get hotter for awhile? During Building Conscious Use of Power we practiced finding hotspots in conflict, and bringing them to the surface - but containing them, slowing them down, but also letting them burn. This allows emotions to run their course and important as well as challenging truths to surface.
- Join a League of Mutants: I've truly never been among such a mixed and varied workshop group. It was a swirl of religion, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, gender, jobs, roles, and class - kudos to the Inner Activist for their real commitment to diversity. Being among that much diversity is a powerful experience of where we have power and rank, and where we don't.
Big thanks to the facilitators and the Inner Activist for their courage to experiment, their reaching beyond the known, and their commitment to integrated leadership. Up, up, and away….
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