Fun fighting: learning to enjoy each other’s pain

What I wouldn’t give to have this one wish granted: for every guy I ever date to attend non-violent (compassionate) communication workshops with me. The workshop environment is important because having others there to mediate and hold the space makes a HUGE difference.

Why do some guys resist?
1. They see it as a chore.
2. They are scared to talk about “feelings.”
3. They think it carries a stigma, that it’s like a 12-step group.
4. They don’t think they need it.

Believe me, they all need it. Every single one. No matter how good a guy’s “game” already is, being proficient in NVC would make it better. In fact, I don’t know one single person on this planet who wouldn’t benefit.

But I’m not here to be self-righteous about that … Mostly, I want guys to realize how much fun they are missing out on. I want them to see that fighting, and dark emotions that nobody wants to face (like anger, shame, guilt, etc.), can become a way to bond and explore and can even be humorous … once we replace judgment with compassion.

I have seen what NVC can do for relationships — bring them to life in the most magical ways. I know a couple (they are NVC teachers) who actually enjoy their fights. Maybe not in every moment while it’s happening. But they have learned to appreciate how much more deeply they can connect by loving each other’s anger and sadness. The truth is that anger, when we bond over it with someone else, can become downright entertaining. The thoughts we think when angry can, when brought to the light of day, seem beyond ridiculous.

Once we start laughing again, we are healing.

A guy (someone who is very dear to me) told me today that he thinks I am “emotionally weak” because I pay so much attention to my feelings. I could take that personally, but I don’t. If I empathize with what he’s saying, I would guess this: he feels frustrated because some of my actions when I’m paying close attention to my feelings don’t meet his needs for predictability and connection and trust. Perhaps he’ll read this and let me know if that guess is anywhere near the mark.

Seriously, I would give just about anything for him to attend a two-day non-violent communication (NVC) workshop with me. Why? Because just as he wants to contribute to my well-being with the email he sent me today, so I would like to contribute to his by experiencing with him how much NVC can enhance communication. Regardless of what happens in our connection with each other. Just for the two-day adventure of it. If nothing else, it’d be a *really* cool experience for him to bring to his business.

Tonight, I was re-reading the chapter in Kelly Bryson’s book Don’t Be Nice Be Real. The chapter is called “From Fighting Fair to Fun Fighting.” It shows us how fighting can actually be GOOD for relationships. Kelly points out that no one can agree on what “fair” actually means, so he shifts the focus to dialogue that can get both people’s needs met. Here’s a great quote:

“If you want to keep the wild in your wild man, keep encouraging him to keep setting himself free.”

I really like that one, because I like my wild men.

Here are some other things Kelly says:

“Relationships are like Chinese finger puzzles. … The key to getting out of the Chinese finger puzzle is the same key as getting out of the polarized power struggle in a loving relationship. It is useful to push toward the middle instead of pulling toward your own ends. When you find yourself struggling toward one of the polar ends of an apparent conflict of needs, the strain of the power struggle can be decreased by pushing back toward the middle, as counter intuitive as this is. As furiously as I might try to get my point across or have my needs heard, if I use the same amount of energy to show understanding for the other’s position, I will ease the power struggle and move us toward resolution. I choose to fight toward life, toward the connection with each other, which is the common life-force that sustains and connects us. This helps protect us from getting caught up in a fight to the death.”

Kelly teaches that “[w]hen blaming is going on,” we can help both ourself and the other person if we are able to see that blaming is actually “a request for empathy, healing and reconnection.” Wow, that sure shifts our focus!

He explains that so often when people come to him in despair because they can’t seem to get their needs met in a relationship, it turns out that they are not really engaging each other in the type of deep, needs-based conversation that might resolve their seeming conflicts.

As one of many concrete examples, Kelly also talks about the basic human needs that are at play when couples discuss monogamous versus non-monogamous relationships. And how, if couples talk in the language of needs (such as security, connection, freedom, adventure, etc.) rather than getting attached to particular strategies, they can usually find something that will make both of them happy.

He gives lots of cool examples, of how we can turn conflicts around into deeper and more fulfilling connections with everyone in our life.

It’s really a great book. I hope everyone will read it.

About the Author:

Erika Awakening is a Harvard Law School graduate and former practicing attorney. She left the rat race to become a location-independent entrepreneur, holistic life coach, blogger, speaker, healer, and Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT tapping) expert. Erika Awakening is one of the world's foremost experts on eradicating limiting beliefs and lifestyle design on your own terms. Learn more about Erika Awakening

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  1. Great comments :-)

    Daria, the Bay Area is a bit of a non-violent communication mecca. Some of my favorite websites:

  2. jennifer says:

    From my perspective, "emotional weakness" would not indicated by noticing or attending to one's feelings but rather reacting or suppressing emotions. Emotional strength – the ability to truthfully acknowledge one's feelings & respond skillfully.

    Partnering & relating to others always has some current of emotion, even "business" partnerships. My

  3. Where can we attend these workshops? Which one do you recommend… ?

  4. Anonymous says:

    “What I wouldn’t give to have this one wish granted: for every guy I ever date to attend non-violent (compassionate) communication workshops with me.”

    Dammit Erika. You’re already making me pay for every dinner. What am I a millionaire?

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