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NVC & Mental Illness

Someone recently asked if it is good to do NVC with someone who is mentally ill.  Of course this an incredibly complex question.  Finding a shared definition of mentally ill might be useful, but is, perhaps, beyond the scope of this article.  For our purposes here I will reframe the gem reader's question this way:  "How do you connect with someone who's mental/emotional reality seems to block connection with you in a way that you don't know how to transmute?"

This question assumes that you want connection with this person.  Noticing whether you really want to try to connect is a very important first step.  If you are not acting from a choice to connect, then you are likely acting from some sense of duty or obligation.  This only adds to the suffering of all involved.

With any relationship, when you know you want to create connection you start first in your own heart.  You allow yourself to feel your caring and appreciation for this person.  

This moves us out of idea of "doing NVC" and into living NVC.  From the perspective of living NVC as a consciousness, the question, "Should I do NVC with this person or that person?" doesn't exist.  It's like asking if you should live from wisdom and compassion.  The answer is yes as often as you possibly can.

It's easy to lose track of the purpose of NVC.  The purpose of NVC is to create a quality of connection in which all needs can be honored and met.  You might have some goal oriented conditioning that influences you to leave out the connection part.  In this case, NVC becomes a strategy for getting a specific result rather than a consciousness of connection that opens you to a world of possibilities.

Practice
This week choose a specific event or time period in which you are working to live NVC consciousness rather than do NVC.  During this focused time tune into your own feelings and needs and those of the people around you.  Let your expression flow naturally from this place of focus.

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7 Responses

  1. Oct 26, 2012
    Paula

    I work at a day treatment program with clients who have severe and persistent mental challenges. I have used NVC and related concepts in my psychoeducation, social skills, and coping skills groups, and people have responded very positively to it.

  2. Oct 26, 2012
    Ayesha Candice Cruz

    LaShelle,
    This is an exquisite sharing and I would like to make it available to my friends. It not only addresses our own humanity with the idea of separateness vs. sameness regarding 'mental illness' and also holds out a streamlined way to encapsulate NVC. Thank you.
    I live in Cambridge, MA. now but learned NVC in Portland, OR., where I lived for many years. I am grateful to be connected to you and your wisdom and NVC.

  3. Oct 26, 2012
    Gene Wilcox

    Thank you. I especially resonated with the "living" NVC in contrast to "doing" NVC. While my desire is to connect I think often I get lost in the "doing." Thanks LaShelle.

    Your friend,
    Gene

  4. Oct 26, 2012
    Tam An Tran

    As a student currently in-training to be an alcohol and drug addiction counselor; yet now may switch to mental health counseling, and one who is also a Peer Support Specialist, I am convinced that using NVC with anyone IS effective and possible! Furthermore, Motivational Interviewing, similar in idea and purpose anyway to NVC, is not the most currently used approached in the 'secular' world. At the same time, meditation is increasisngly being used with addicts and dual or multiple diagnosis clients. Used correctly by the counselor, it has proven again and again to be effective towards recovery.

    In answer to the question: Should I use NVC, I agree totally with LaShelle that it is essential and effective with everyone! I am convinced it is effective with everyone no matte how one defines 'mental illness.' My concern is that by labelling people, we demonstrate our ignorance. Please view each person as someone who is precious and the worse than oneself!

    Tam An

  5. Oct 27, 2012

    Thank you for these gentle reminders

  6. Oct 28, 2012

    Thank you all for taking the time to share and for being a part living compassion.

  7. May 08, 2016

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