Weekly Family Meetings

family-meeting    In the hustle bustle of modern family living, it’s easy to literally forget to talk to the people we love.  It’s common for mothers and fathers to go days, weeks, months without sitting down to really share what is going on in their lives, discuss important matters, and connect in a deep way.  Children are often being shuttled around and rarely get the chance to have the issues, experiences and ideas they are living with heard in the family unit as well.

A practice which can help to create more communication, closeness and a sense of smooth operating for families is the weekly family meeting.  My neighbor does this with her family each Sunday evening from 5-6pm.  She has a large piece of paper taped to the fridge with “Family Meeting Topics” written at the top of it where throughout the week when an issue, topic or need arises for anyone in the family, they can jot it down so it is sure to be discussed on Sunday evening.

At the meeting, each family member is given a certain amount of time (5-10 minutes) with a timer to speak what is on their mind, share how they are feeling, make requests of other family members that are specific and address needs which have arised.  One week, Sally may ask Jonah to be sure to put the toilet seat down so that when she wakes up groggy in the morning, she doesn’t nearly fall in.  Dad may ask the kids to be sure to clean up their toys before he gets home so he doesn’t have one more long task to complete at the end of a long day.  Mom may ask Dad to be sure he picks up groceries this week because she has a Moms Night Out.  Those are the practical requests.

Each family member also is invited to share anything that is happening in their world that has strong feelings attached.  For instance, Sally shares that a friend she really counts on has started to flake on her and she is feeling nervous and sad.  Jonah explains that he has his heart set on making the baseball team but has been disappointed at his own performance at tryouts.  The rest of the family listens wholeheartedly, without trying to fix anything, just to hear what their sister, brother or parent is going through and to offer compassionate awareness.  If the family member wants feedback or input, he or she will ask.  Mom and Dad also share what is really going on for them emotionally:  a difficult encounter with a boss, a friend who is sick with cancer, concerns over an aging parent’s health.  This way, part of the family culture is being created in openness, vulnerability, trust, truth and authenticity.

If you find yourself wishing your family felt more like a unit with close ties than it does currently, and your youngest child is verbal, this could be a structure to start incorporating into your family’s weekly life.  It’s a ritual that has meaning, fosters closeness and opens up the family unit to work together, be aware of one another and accept each others’ experiences wholeheartedly.  And it can be a lot of fun!

Non-Violent Communication Can Save Your Marriage!

nvc-tree-of-lifeDo you find yourself having yelling matches with your spouse, in front of or within earshot of your kids, frequently enough that you and your spouse know it’s time for a change?

Most of the time when couples yell in fights, it’s because either one or both of the people in the couple have strong feelings which arise because a deep-seated need is not being met.

For instance, let’s say that a woman asks her spouse daily that before he go watch television after dinner, he clean up the counter and dishes there after she has done the cooking.  The cooking partner has to ask several times, nagging, and the frustration builds up.   More often than not, the evening erupts into a yelling match over dishes.  But we all know it’s not about dishes.  What it is about is the fact that the irritated partner feels ignored, disrespected, unheard, dismissed, unloved, and has needs for cooperation, consideration and equality that are not being met.

This is how Non-Violent Communication (NVC) works:  first off, the person who wants to communicate her feelings starts off by identifying the moment/behavior/action of the person she is communicating with which most causes her to feel these strong feelings, in an objective way.  In this case, it’s the moment when her partner gets up from the table and goes to the couch instead of spending some time clearing and cleaning up after dinner.

In NVC, you start off a conversation with this identifying action.  You say, “When I see you get up from the table to watch television without clearing dishes or cleaning up…”  This wording has the feel of looking through a camera lens.  You simply communicate what you see, without judgment or hard criticism.

The next step is to clearly identify how this behavior/action makes you feel, and to be specific.  Rather than saying it makes you mad, say it makes me feel dismissed, ignored and disrespected – much stronger and more specific feelings which land with more clarity and emotional strength for the person listening.

Then you add to the statement of communication:  “When I see you get up from the table to watch television without clearing dishes or cleaning up, I feel ignored, disrespected and dismissed…”

Then you identify the underlying need that is not being met, and which is causing the strong feelings to erupt:  “When I see you get up from the table without clearing dishes or cleaning up, I feel ignored, disrespected and dismissed because I need cooperation, equality and consideration…”

The last part of the statement is a request.  After you explain what happened and how it makes you feel, what needs are underlying the strong feelings, you request if the person would be willing to act in a new way to correct course and prevent this hurt in future.

A final NVC statement would look like this:  “When you get up from the table and start watching television without clearing dishes or cleaning up, I feel ignored, disrespected and dismissed because I need cooperation, equality and consideration.  In future, would you be willing to help me to clear the table and clean the dishes and countertops before you turn on the television?”

This is very clear, it is not accusatory, it is not said while yelling.  It is straightforward, specific and proactive in what it communicates and requests gently a new action/behavior which is supportive and appropriate.

So the next time you and your spouse are veering towards a yelling match, stop, take a deep breath, and try this NVC methodology out:  describe the action objectively, state the feelings that arise when this action occurs, what the underlying unmet need is, and what if he or she would be willing to act differently in future so this hurt/feelings can be avoided.

You may be surprised at your spouse’s willingness to change when you approach him/her with calm, clarity, specificity, vulnerability, proactivity and gentleness.

Wishing you all the best as you consider using NVC to redesign your marital communication!

What’s Your Type?

nine personality types on blackboardThe Enneagram is a robust system of personality, self-awareness and personal growth. As parents, we are challenged daily to grow ourselves into our best selves so as to meet the developing needs of our children in a peaceful and loving manner. The Enneagram can offer a path out of ineffective parenting patterns such as reacting to children with shortness, yelling and using punishments.  Once you identify your core personality type, it can be studied, practiced and incorporated into one’s behaviors to show up for our children and the rest of our lives with more grace and effectiveness.

The Enneagram is different from more commonly known personality typing tools, like the Meyer’s Briggs, because it provides more than a static snapshot or box that people fit into in terms of their tendencies and behaviors.

The Enneagram is an ancient personality system which aims to capture the 9 personality types present in the human family. The types include The Reformer (1), The Giver (2), The Achiever (3), The Individualist (4), The Investigator (5), The Loyalist (6), The Enthusiast (7), The Challenger (8) and The Peacemaker (9). The names of the personality types come from the ways in which each type attempts to make its mark on the world, and respond to its need for love and recognition. Each type behaves in specific ways to gain approval and earn the love that we all seek as human beings, starting from a young age.

In addition to providing a current view of how a person is behaving, the Enneagram system is built upon the idea that personalities, and people, evolve over time. The more a person knows about him/herself and his/her behaviors, takes conscious action to untangle misconceived ideas about love and belonging, and becomes fully self-accepting, self-realized and effective in the world, the more each type evolves to become their highest self.

I came across the Enneagram many years ago when I was having challenges in a relationship and at work, with people who often seemed to speak a different language than I did in their behaviors and assumptions.

At that time, my father had just passed away and I had just begun the arduous journey of becoming an inner city public high school teacher. I was under stress and was typed as an Enneagram 4 — the Individualist. I was withdrawn, focused on how different I was from others, and often assumed that no one else saw the same issues and problems that I saw in the same ways.

I came to realize when I began my coaching program two years ago, that I had been mis-typed. Each Enneagram personality not only has a type that we evolve to, but also a type that we go to under stress. I am actually an Enneagram Type 1, the Reformer. The Reformer is concerned with doing the right thing, serving people, and is very values and ethics-based with decision-making.

All personality types have wonderful qualities, but they also have patterns which can create problems, especially around self-criticism and perfectionism.

It is my self-development work to evolve to a Type 7, The Enthusiast, to overcome my patterns and assumptions about people and how to go about gaining love. In fact, when one evolves to their highest self/type using the Enneagram system as a tool, life no longer is about approval and seeking love from the outside, but rather about being true to oneself, living from a place of deep authenticity, integration, peace and flow.

 

What’s Your Type?

The Enneagram is different from more commonly known personality typing tools, like the Meyer’s Briggs, used in traditional work environments, because it provides more than a static snapshot or box that people fit into in terms of their tendencies and behaviors.

The Enneagram is an ancient personality system which aims to capture the 9 personality types present in the human family. The types include The Reformer (1), The Giver (2), The Achiever (3), The Individualist (4), The Investigator (5), The Loyalist (6), The Enthusiast (7), The Challenger (8) and The Peacemaker (9). The names of the personality types come from the ways in which each type attempts to make its mark on the world, and respond to its need for love and recognition. Each type behaves in specific ways to gain approval and earn the love that we all seek as human beings, starting from a young age.

In addition to providing a current view of how a person is behaving, the Enneagram system is built upon the idea that personalities, and people, evolve over time. The more a person knows about him/herself and his/her behaviors, takes conscious action to untangle misconceived ideas about love and belonging, to become more fully self-accepting, self-realized and effective in the world, the more each type evolves to become their highest self.

I came across the Enneagram many years ago when I was figuring out what was causing challenges in a relationship and at work, in my dealings with other people, who often seemed to speak a different language than I did in their behaviors and assumptions.

At that time, my father had just passed away and I had just begun the arduous journey of becoming an inner city public high school teacher, so I was under stress and was typed as an Enneagram 4, the Individualist. I was withdrawn, focused on how different I was from others, how unique, and often assumed that no one else saw the same issues and problems that I saw in the same ways.

I came to realize when I began my coaching program two years ago, that I had been mis-typed during that time. Each Enneagram type not only has a type that they evolve to, but also a type that they go to under stress.

I am actually an Enneagram Type 1, the Reformer, who was under stress when I started teaching and behaved an awful lot like a Type 4. The Type 1, Reformer, is concerned with doing the right thing, serving people, and is very values and ethics-based in their decision making. It is absolutely the accurate type which describes my core values and behaviors; type 1 (and all types) has its wonderful qualities as well as patterns which can create problems, especially around self-criticism and perfectionism.

It is my self-development work to evolve to a Type 7, The Enthusiast, to overcome my patterns and assumptions about people and how to go about gaining love. In fact, when one evolves to their highest self/type, using the Enneagram system as a tool, life no longer is about approval and seeking love from the outside, but rather about being true to oneself, living from a place of deep authenticity, integration, peace and flow.

If you are curious to understand yourself, your behaviors under stress, how you can consciously act in order to evolve, assumptions which lead to patterns in relationships, communication and work-related issues, give me a call today for a free consultation! I provide my clients with Enneagram assessments and provide coaching programs which help to make this such an invaluable tool for self growth and realization.

I hope to hear from you soon!

All My Best,
Kiran

Being Your Own Kind of Good Mom

Today I’m working from home because my daughter had a fever yesterday and couldn’t go to her nanny share today. I also have a sitter here playing with her while I meet with clients, write, study and go to appointments that are on my calendar. Being a mompreneur with my own business has allowed me the flexibility to be the kind of Mom I need to be on days like this. Sometimes I feel disorganized in the midst of juggling work, child care and my daughter’s calls for me. At others, I feel guilty when I compare myself to an ideal of being with my daughter all day every day, having no work outside of caring for my family. And most of the time, I feel thankful for the freedom to define my own motherhood journey as it feels right and balanced for me. Continue Reading