Protecting ourselves and others does not violate ahimsa (non-violence) . Practicing ahimsa means we take responsibility for our own harmful behavior and attempt to stop the harm caused by others.
Additionally, nonviolence INCLUDES how we speak; not only to others but to ourselves.
I love this story:
“There is a famous story about ahimsa told in the Vedas, the vast collection of ancient philosophical teachings from India. A certain sadhu, or wandering monk, would make a yearly circuit of villages in order to teach. One day as he entered a village he saw a large and menacing snake who was terrorizing the people. The sadhu spoke to the snake and taught him about ahimsa. The following year when the sadhu made his visit to the village, he again saw the snake. How changed he was. This once magnificent creature was skinny and bruised. The sadhu asked the snake what had happened. He replied that he had taken the teaching of ahimsa to heart and had stopped terrorizing the village. But because he was no longer menacing, the children now threw rocks and taunted him, and he was afraid to leave his hiding place to hunt. The sadhu shook his head. “I did advise against violence,” he said to the snake, “but I never told you not to hiss.” cc: Yoga Journal
The other day (like many days), I was trying to get my son to take a nap. He was tired, getting over a cold and he NEEDED a nap. *I NEEDED* a nap. Just 30 minutes, just a quick power nap.
EVERY 5 minutes, the door is flung open “I have to pee, I have to poop, I have a nail that is scratching me, how many more minutes do I have to be in here, what’s for dinner, can I play with the dogs, can I watch ABC Mouse, I need you to snuggle me, I need you to read me books, I need some milk, can I have some cheeeeeeeeeese?”
Needless to say, I wasn’t going to get a nap. And about the 5th time the door flung open and another “something” was said, I shouted “LUCAS, YOU NEED TO TAKE A NAP!” And then, I felt horrible. Why did I shout? Why do I do that? I hate that! I am such a bad mom, I am a horrible person! UGH!
This “ticker tape” of yuck just flows through my head. It’s amazing to me how little grace, compassion and empathy I have for myself. I am quick to give it to others but rarely to myself.
Marshall Rosenberg is an amazing author, speaker and founder of Non-Violent Communication. He talks about how unmet needs are typically the reason for ugly words and behavior. And when we can get to the point of identifying that unmet need, communicating that unmet need, acknowledging that unmet need, we are better able to communicate with others AND ourselves… in a kind way.
So, I apologized to Lucas for raising my voice and said “Lucas, Mommy needs a nap. So, you can do one of two things: you can play quietly in your room or you can lie down with Mommy. It’s your choice.” I felt better, Lucas felt better and I got 3.5 minutes of my 30- minute nap.
Here are a 3 things to ponder:
1. Be aware of how you talk to yourself. Are you kind, compassionate and empathetic?
2. What needs are not being met in your life? How do you handle this? Do you withdraw, eat too much, drink too much, binge on Netflix, lose your cool? (all not kind, except for maybe the Netflix.)
3. Can you communicate your needs? (either to the person that is involved or just simply write it down. This is super powerful, trust me.)
T-Is it True
H-Is it Helpful
I- Is it Inspiring
N-Is it Necessary
K-Is it Kind
Remember that any type of change or evolving takes practice. It’s truly never ending, any of it. You will have many situations that will arise that you will have the opportunity to get that practice, even if you don’t want it. For today, just be a witness to it all. Witness your interactions with others, witness how you “talk” to yourself, witness how you react to what others say to you, witness how your heart and your body and your Soul react to all of it.
You are not required to do anything. Just witness.