I was raised in a very reasonable household. We operated spectacularly from the neck up. We were smart and funny. Our household was all about learning and doing what made sense.

Early on, I was identified as “the dramatic one.” It was later in life that I realized that meant “the emotional one.” Emotions? They were signs of immaturity. I thought my parents didn’t have them and that I would grow out of them.

No amount of watching Star Trek could convince me that human emotions were preferable to Mr. Spock’s cool logic.

I studied psychology in college because I thought it would teach me how to escape from emotion. A in my early 20s, I joined the 12 step group Emotions Anonymous, still trying to find a way to become solely reasonable.

I started to realize that everyone has emotions and a large number of us don’t know how to respond to them. I’ve been learning about how to live with passion in my emotional human body ever since.

I’ve made progress, thank goodness, but I still have trouble talking about my emotions as though I have a right to have them.

In everyday life, I don’t communicate clearly. As a writer, I know lots of words and I love to play with them. When it comes to saying what I feel and asking for what I want, I fail.

This month, my theme is the kind promise “I will reinvent whimsically.” I have decided to concentrate on reinventing my verbal communication style.

I’ve been reading about nonviolent communication (NVC). It’s a simple four step process that enables people to speak more clearly with each other.

I talk about…

  1. what I observe (see, hear, remember, imagine) that does or does not contribute to my well-being
  2. How I feel (Emotion or sensation, rather than thought)
  3. What I need or value
  4. The concrete actions I would like taken

I speak without expressing blame or criticism and I receive how you are without hearing blame or criticism.

The Center for Nonviolent Communication has lists of feelings and needs available on their website.

As I listen to someone else, I’ve been challenging myself to respond by letting them know what I hear about their feelings and needs. Of course, I want to get better at talking about my own feelings and needs.

I hereby give myself permission to be awkward, make mistakes and practice, practice, practice.