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The best moment is always NOW!

Interview with Pernille Plantener (coach and NVC Trainer*)




A: Pernille you work with people from all over the world, how do you discover the beauty within someone during a session?

P: Yes, if you are talking about all over the world it’s really this experience of our shared humanity. Whether people come from India, Thailand, EU or US we are all human beings and we have so much in common.  That is the beautiful thing.

A: Why did you chose work with needs?  Why do you believe that needs are so important in our life?

P: It’s because it is the common denominators between us.  All human beings share the same basic needs. We have physical needs for shelter, food and drink and we also share needs with one another that we can meet together, such as respect, acceptance, appreciation, acknowledgement, understanding and so forth  Once we connect with needs in each other, that’s when we get a real sense of being deeply connected, not just to individuals but to everybody in a broader sense.

A: So the point is when you work with your needs, that promotes the true connection with yourself and the other people?

P. Yes, the needs are ways to understand ourselves and each other.  The way we are connected to our needs and the needs of others, that’s through our feelings.  Feelings whether they are happy as contentment and joy, or whether they are negative like anger or depression or fear, it all points to needs and whether they are being met or not being met.  That is the way to understand each other, to be curious about the feelings we are having and then to find  the needs behind which the feeling points to.

A: What do you recommend to people who claim that they don’t have needs and they live day after day without awareness of their needs and feelings?

P. That is one of the things that really touches me when it happens.  I see people who have had this experience throughout their life that the only way to be safe is to eliminate themselves.  So what I do when I met  people who have had this experience is that I really want to be with them and give them this experience of having company and I let them know that I understand that they have chosen the way, the best strategy which works the best for them which is to shut down some really important aspect of being human.  This way usually builds trust so what comes out of it is actually that there are feelings inside.  It’s also very important because feelings are really worth it, they give us the experience of living our life.  It’s like a difference between reading the notes on a sheet of paper from sitting in the concert hall and listening to the concert.  If we don’t have feelings, we don’t really experiences a fullness of life.

A: It’s so beautiful how you talk about it. What do you recommend to people who are in the very hard moments in their life and they don’t see any hope?

P. O dear, so what I find to be really important is that they find one person whom they have trust in, who is able to really listen and be with them through whatever pain or hardship they are experiencing, without any agenda to change it for them.  The paradox is when we accept what we feel and who we are in the moment, we become able to change .  The first step is always to fully be acknowledged and feel what we stand in the middle of.

A: What is the best source of power? How we can feel our power? How we can discover our power?  Do you believe that everybody has inner strength?

P: I think the power resides in having the freedom to choose your reaction to what happens in your life, instead of what happens when somebody is doing something to you that you really don’t like and you just react automatically, shutting down, or blaming other person.  If you become aware about what  is triggered inside of you when this person does this or that, then you notice that actually you have choice about how you think of the situation and then after thinking about the situation, how you react.  That is really claiming the freedom to change your life and it is very powerful.

A: Yes, so we don’t have to change other people, we have to only change our attitude to understanding their situation?

P: Yes, that the first step and that might lead to ask other people if they will change something in particular, but it comes from a much more powerful place, if there is the sense of choice rather than we demand it.  I guess everybody knows how it is when someone tells us to do something. That is something that easily creates a distance, but when people come from a mature place in themselves and they ask kindly if we would discuss how this could be done differently, then it is much more likely that it would be happening.

A: What happens when people have discovered what they really need? Do you have in your experience this moment when a client discovered this need for the first time ?

P. It can be a quite overwhelming experience, in the beginning but very fast people notice that they have results right away when they have embarked on this journey.  Just to taste the sweetness of getting to know yourself and to take care about her own feelings and needs and that allowed them to care for other people feelings and needs.  Like a careful mum who sees her children and they might be desperate, or angry or fearful and she just kisses them in a mature manner, that is how we step into this way of being with ourselves as well as with other people. So it benefits ourselves and people around us as well.

A: Do you see that some people are very afraid and they don’t want to meet their needs because they think that will be something wrong, that they disappear?

P: Yes, they are afraid that other people will not like them if they will start to concentrate on their own feelings and needs and this is an experience they probably have had in their childhood.  they had a parent who didn’t have space inside to take care of his own needs and feelings, so the children have to act as grown ups, at an emotional level.  But if this person meet his needs, the benefits will be for him and the people in the family and around him.

A: When you work with people, what is the hardest moment in this journey, in this way to yourself?

P: For me or for this person?

A: For your client and for you as well.

P: For me it’s not hardJ For the client is the moment when he sees how much he has sacrificed and how huge the costs have been for him  and in the beginning he doesn’t have the skills to change it.  So they have to be on this process a little a bit longer before the changes will start.  The journey goes really through a lot of grief.  Grief about what has been, that we wish would have been differently.  Grief is a really important practice.  It is some kind of say goodbye to your dream, goodbye to something that we used to hope for and we never got.

A: You know it’s sounds like a some kind transformation from kids to adult person.  When you have to say goodbye to some items, issues in our life….

P; Yes it’s a truth and it’s really growing into maturity in some way.  Even though I would like to moderate this because people are very mature and grown up even if they chose to live in the sacrifices of their own needs and feelings. So it isn’t that kind of maturity, it’s more like growing to the potential of humans, a potential of gentleness to ourselves and gentleness to others.

A; Sometimes people don’t have connection with for themselves for a long, long time. How we can rebuilt our connections with our inner world.

P: This is very important question. THE BEST MOMENT IS ALWAYS NOW We can not change what happened before, but now what do I feel in this moment? And this might be a very difficult question.  So we can ask ourselves, do I have hot feet or cold feet?  Do I feel that my chest is expanding or is it contracting?  If my chest is contracting, something isn’t good for me, some need of mine that isn’t met and then gradually build a sense of my own inner life and become conscious about it and also find some words for it to communicate with the world.

* Nonviolent Communication (abbreviated NVC, also called Compassionate Communication or Collaborative Communication) is a communication process developed by Marshall Rosenberg beginning in the 1960s. It focuses on three aspects of communication: self-empathy (defined as a deep and compassionate awareness of one's own inner experience), empathy (defined as an understanding of the heart in which we see the beauty in the other person), and honest self-expression (defined as expressing oneself authentically in a way that is likely to inspire compassion in others).

** Edited byJoanne Ashby


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