Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field.
I'll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase each other
doesn't make any sense.
- (Sufi Poet Rumi)

Monday, March 5, 2012

No One Is Unproductive

In yesterday's "Dear Abby" column there was woman who described herself as retired and in search of herself. She didn't know whether to take a part time job, go to school, or volunteer. She was experiencing guilt and a sense of unworthiness because she was "unproductive."

Here is how I would have replied to her letter using NVC consciousness.  What might you have said?

No one is “unproductive.” We each just choose different strategies to meet our needs for ease, rest, fun, security, and protection (and many other needs).  No one is old. No one is retired. These labels tend to go with expectations of how we should act.  So I’m going to ask you to think of what needs are alive in you now.

Let me help get you started.  From what you write I am seeing how much you value contribution, as well as stimulation.  You however want more ease and rest than your previous full time job allowed. Is that right? 

You can have people guess your needs, like I just did, or you can do this yourself.  One way to get at needs is to see what labels you are using.  For instance, I’d like to ask you where your sense of guilt and worthlessness comes from when you think of the phrase “not being productive.”  I am guessing that you have some “should” statements going on in your mind, such as “I should not be lazy.”  “Good people work hard.”  These should statements can disconnect us from life energy and keep us from coming up with creative ways to meet our needs. So we need to get at the needs behind “not being productive.” 

So pick up a pen and paper, and write down all the needs you can think of that are met when you imagine yourself being “productive.”  You might list connection to people, contribution, respect, and nurturing.  Now also imagine all the needs that are being met when you are not working as hard as in your last job.  You might list rest, ease, fun, and learning? 

Take a look at all those needs you wrote and lift up the 2-3 that seem to resonate the most for you right now.  Thinking of these needs, can you think of ways to meet these needs?  The goal is to meet needs that are alive in you, and not the needs of some should statement, such as I should be active or busy. 

My guess is that life is trying to come through you very strongly, and you are rearing to meet those needs to connect to life as much as possible.  Just listen to life as it expresses itself in the various emotions you have, and try to translate any self judgment into a language of needs.

Find your needs and you will find yourself.

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