Authenticity and Error Detection – October 2012
I spent 10 days of last month attending an International Intensive Training put on by the Center for Nonviolent Communication in Albuquerque, trying to balance my desire to participate with integrity, and to receive what was there to learn, with my mind-blowing impatience at wanting Interpersonal Neurobiology to take center stage in the world of NVC – so loving the clarity, ease and resonance that comes with an understanding of where we are in our brains and bodies, and what our intentions are. I held the resulting tension in my gut, as a ball of fire with an endless supply of gasoline, as long as I was awake. Part of what I was doing was trying to figure out how to bring these seemingly incompatible strategies together into one course of action.
Like water star-grass in the river, we are beings living in the currents of time: we are anchored by our bodies in the present; we are swayed by both known and invisible currents from the past; and we are always anticipating the future. And our anticipation is complex – we continually run our possible actions and words through our error detector, our anterior cingulate. Sometimes we can get stuck in the running of possibilities, over and over and over again, without finding a way to proceed that works with all the variables we are expecting. The resulting paralysis can look like we don’t care, or like we are stupid, or like we aren’t paying attention, while inside it feels like fiery anxiety and hopelessness, and we grind ourselves into exhaustion.
What can we do when we find ourselves here? It helps to recognize our patterns. And when we base our self-understanding and compassion on our somatic experience, receiving empathy with resonance, and getting feelings and needs named, we start to transform the deep implicit traffic jam of our longings into comprehension and clarity. Over the course of my time at the IIT, as I built up the experience of being held with care, and as the people there found me some opportunities to share my passion, the fiery ball in my stomach calmed, and I started to recognize the gifts of my own intensity and of my longings.