When others become ”Its”
In Nonviolent Communication (NVC) we talk about the kind of thinking and language that gets in the way of compassion, that disconnect us from life.
One subtle and pervasive form of disconnected thinking and behavior is regarding others as "its". That is, objects that either meet your needs or get in the way of you meeting your needs.
This sounds a little harsh, but I've caught myself in this consciousness in subtle ways.
In traffic, "Come on, get out of the way dude, could you make that turn a little slower?!"
Or at the store, ever been at the store feeling tired and grumpy and just wanting to get your food and go home? Does an "it" ring up your groceries, and an "it" fill your grocery bag?
What about in your close relationships? Do you find yourself getting angry and resentful when your loved one doesn't do what you think they should?
I have caught myself in "it" consciousness in all of these situations. At such times, I've noticed how dead I felt inside. I've noticed that I had put little blinders and became attached to some immediate outcome.
The result of attachment combined with the mind state that turns sentient beings into objects that either serve your needs or interfere with your needs is violence as we define it in NVC. It is a disconnection from life. If not caught, it gives rise to irritation, resentment, anger, hostility, and then cruelty.
So where do you start when you have caught yourself slipping into "it" consciousness?
Create a mantra that brings you back to the values you want to live by. Mine is "I want to live in and enjoy this moment". This phrase releases me from attachment which, in part, has to do with putting off enjoyment for some future moment when I think I will get what I am imagining will bring me happiness.
Another mantra I use is, "Am I living from Loving-Kindness?"
Loving-kindness is an aspiration, attitude, and behavior of caring for the well-being of oneself and others. It's the consciousness in which you see others as people, like yourself – wanting to be happy, wanting aliveness and freedom from suffering and you wish that for them.
Identifying and honoring the feelings and needs in yourself helps you see the feelings and needs in others and remember that all people are coming from the same place.
Of course the trick is your ability to pay attention to your thoughts, feelings, needs, and behavior moment by moment. The more you can do this the more you can ask and answer the questions -
"Am I living the life I want to live right now? Am I on automatic pilot or am I am making decisions moment by moment from my heart's deepest values and longing."
This week, create a mantra or question that will bring you back to your heart. Find a way to remember it several times a day. Use a watch alarm, smatter your house, car, and office with post it notes, write it on your hand, whatever works to bring your back to the here and now and your ability to create the life you
want moment by moment.