Friday, March 02, 2007

Interdependence

I can't live without you. Well, not you, specifically, but people in general. I'm completely vulnerable. I need other people to survive. Life would be miserable without the attention, respect, and kindness of other people.

I am so grateful to all the people who have met my needs in so many ways. There's no way I could ever repay all that kindness, so I'll continue to make myself available to serve the needs of others. Truth be told, I find serving others to be extremely satisfying work. In fact, it is the source of my deepest joy.

When I think this through, it makes it easier to ask for those things that I need. Because it's unlikely that I'm the only person who enjoys serving others. I've met lots of people who seem to get as much from voluntary service as I do. Requesting what I need from anybody who enjoys service is a kindness. A request is a gift.

Of course, there's a huge gap between a request and a demand. Like me, everybody I know needs autonomy, the sense of controlling one's own life. To respect that need when I ask, I must be willing to hear "no" as an answer. Nobody owes me anything. I certainly don't want to force anybody to do my will.

Luckily, there are a lot of good people who are happy to serve others. So whenever one person can't comfortably meet my needs, I can always ask somebody else. When I ask, I always try to preface my request with the understanding that I don't want anybody to do anything for me unless doing it brings them joy.

So even though I am completely vulnerable, I'm supremely confidant that my needs will be met and I will continue to find opportunities to joyously serve. That confidence makes it easier for me to express my needs without seeming needy. I can freely choose to be with others.

Thanks to Marshall Rosenberg for sharing the principles of Nonviolent Communication expressed above. It really works!

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