Everything we do, we choose to do.
~ Marshall Rosenberg (1934 – 2015)
“Really!? There is nothing we have to do!”
This was my reaction when I first heard Marshall assert his belief that there are no “have-to’s” in life. At that point more than 20 years ago, there were a wide range of things I perceived I “had to” do: Buy groceries, go to my job, search out better jobs, and more. It wasn’t clear to me that, by seeing these things as “have-to’s,” I was not owning the autonomy that made me the master of my ship. Inadvertently, I was giving up my personal power — the power I wanted to channel to create a better world.
“Have-to” energy is stifling. When we live the delusion of “have-to” and choose to give up our power, our energy sinks and apathy sets in. Over the years, I have practiced what Marshall preached about converting “have-to’s” to “choose-to’s” by re-framing my perceptions: I chose to buy groceries because I wanted well-being and health; I chose to go to my job because I longed for financial stability and contribution to other’s well-being; and I chose to search out better jobs because I desired more fun, ease, teamwork, and even more contribution to other’s well-being.
Snared by a “Have-to”; Freed by Empathy
Last week I was having difficulty working on the curriculum for my upcoming training for meditators. Without fully acknowledging it, I was stuck. I felt concerned as I really wanted to focus my energy on my training preparations and, at the same time, I wasn’t sure why I was in this state.
Thankfully, I raised my concern to my wife, Katie, at our twice-weekly Snexion (i.e. connection session or family meeting). The dialogue facilitated by her caring presence led to clarity (Yay!). I had the insight that my low level of energy around developing the curriculum was a product of a delusion — I was snared by a “have-to”!
Until then, I was operating based on this thought: Because Katie and I had a number of 15-minute walking and sitting meditations in our training for meditators in 2015, I had to offer this meditation time in my upcoming training. Living this delusion meant I had to redo a 12-hour curriculum I had used successfully to include these new meditation periods — Yuck!
This insight had a powerful effect: It liberated my energy so I could get to work! Since that meeting with Katie, I have been focused like a laser beam on the curriculum. Rather than adding in the meditation times, I created a page in the training manual listing the resonances between Compassionate Communication and mindfulness meditation. With my energy loosed, I have had a great time putting the curriculum and materials together!
I’m so grateful to Katie and Compassionate Communication for giving me an alternative to “have-to’s” and freeing my abundant energy to create a world where everyone embodies their natural capacity to Communicate with Heart