Tomorrow I travel to Seattle, and then on to Vancouver Island for my final step in Nonviolent Communication Certification as a Trainer. I wonder now what it means to be "certified?" In some ways there is a contradiction here - to use labels to categorize oneself or others can shut down an openness to learn about the other and to listen to them. Isn't Compassionate Communication all about not using labels or categorizing people? Perhaps, except when labels, positions, or categories can meet needs. What we long for in our lives is choice - and to have total choice this means that we can opt for judging others to meet needs. In my case, to be a "Certified Trainer" opens up doorways to support others within Unitarian Universalism and peace and multispecies activism, and this means a lot to me. I long for harmony, choice, and beauty and if being labeled as a "Trainer" helps others feel supported and have confidence in compassionate communication, then I will gladly wear that label. Perhaps I'm a bit certifiably crazy to dream of such a world where choice, interdependence, peace, and autonomy are the hallmarks of relationships. How about you?
What labels do you use on yourself? What needs are met by being "certified" as a parent, teacher, student, or spouse?