Practicing Nonviolence in My Mother Tongue Isn’t So Easy

If you think you’re enlightened, go spend a week with your family.

Ram Dass

Well, I spent a month with mine, and I realized that I was far from enlightened. There’s something about going back to your roots — and in this case, my hometown, my mother tongue, and my culture also fit into Ram Dass’ equation — that really puts life in perspective.

Actually, I never thought I was enlightened, but I did think that I had done some good work on the life-alienating ways with which I used to communicate. You see, for about two years now, apart from my job as a teacher educator, I have been facilitating a group that meets bi-monthly to practice the conflict resolution process called Nonviolent Communication (NVC). Prior to that, I had been doing my own personal studies and had attended many weekend workshops at the NVC center in Seoul. With this experience, I thought I had made strong progress with the basic components of NVC which are:

1. express yourself honestly via observation, feelings, needs and request;

2. listen empathically via observation, feelings, needs and request.

But after a few days in my hometown of Clare, Nova Scotia, I had very little patience to listen, and words of judgment, frustration, and guilt took hold of my mind, and with disappointed ease, trickled from my lips. This was a familiar tone that seemed to be revisiting me during my séjour.

I think this familiar, yet unnerving, tone is somehow connected to my mother-tongue. This area of Nova Scotia is the only place I can use my first language, the French-Acadian dialect unique to my hometown. The last time I used this language full time was when I was 17 years old. Since then I’ve made my life blending into the world of Anglophones.

Perhaps speaking Acadian brings me back to my teenage days: days when I thought everyone should understand me; days when I had the least patience and understanding for others.

telling it like it is :P

I can hypothesize many other reasons why this tone — in sound and in speech — came easily to me: it could be the “should (devoir)” dialogue I often heard around me;

Ej t’avais dit que c’allais prendre 9 heures. On aurait dut décoller plus tôt à matin. – I told you that it was going to take 9 hours. We should have left earlier this morning.

Tu devrais aller les visiter avant c’est trop tard. – You should go visite them before it’s too late.

maybe it’s the Catholic guilt; perhaps it’s the dark, sarcastic, cynical humor we use in our daily discourse; and it most probably is that I don’t know how NVC fits into all of this.

This experience was enough to make me doubt my NVC progress; enough to make me wonder if I should keep facilitating. It was enough for me to postpone our group until further notice.

But the beauty of this personal conflict is that it shed a light. What I have learned is that I have a deeply rooted need to cultivate patience. I need to slow down and listen. If I don’t do this, I’ll never be able to practice the NVC components in class or at home.

To make sure I’ve done my work, once I’ve practiced patience for a while, I’ll take Ram Dass’s advice and go back to my hometown for another month to really see how much I’ve progressed :P

PS. Thank you for reading such a late entry.

Related articles


6 thoughts on “Practicing Nonviolence in My Mother Tongue Isn’t So Easy

  1. J’entend mes mots dans tes commentaires dont ta constatations des influences qui t’entour sont reel. C’est ma maniere de faire un point ou de faire a celle ou celui qui m’ecoute de realiser qu’il y aura pu avoir une autre solution plus facile si nous avions proceder d’une autre maniere. Bonne lecture! Merci


    1. J’apprécie beaucoup cela que tu as pris le temps de lire, de réfléchir et d’écrire tes pensées sure ce poste. Je comprends que quand tu t’exprime avec le verbe ‘devoir’, c’est parce que tu essayes de prendre garde à tes besoins. Peut-être c’est un besoin relié au temps, ou peut-être c’est relié au besoin de maintenir un sentiment de communauté. Ce sont des besoin très normale, et s’exprimer comme cela c’est très commun. Comprendre des besoins c’est quelque chose que ma pratique de NVC m’aide à découvrir. Si on peut voir que chaque fois que quelqu’un s’exprime c’est parce qu’il à un besoin (need), la c’est beaucoup plus facile d’écouter avec emapthie. À ce point il y a beaucoup moins de conflit. Mais c’est une pratique qui est difficile quand tu as appris toute une différente manière. Comme mon article l’explique, quand les habitudes sont plus primal (culture, famille, amis…), c’est beaucoup plus difficile de pratiquer.

      Je suis très contente qu’on peut commencer ce dialogue. Je pense qu’on pourrait développer une connexion même plus forte si on pense comment nos mots sont compris par quelqu’un d’autre. C’est pas facile, mais quand c’est réussi, c’est très beau.

      Et merci pour t’avoir abonné à mes deux blogs!


  2. Hi Josette,
    J’espère que tout va bien avec toi.
    La prochaine fois que tu t’en viens, fais de la méditation…just blank it all out! C’est ça que moi je fais! lol
    Prends toi garde!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s