Nonviolent communication is very useful in understanding our scarcity beliefs in relation to money; money is only a strategy to meet other needs. Perhaps you have noticed scarcity (there isn’t enough or there is lack) beliefs you hold around money? Do you panic when you see bills or do you worry that you ‘should’ be saving more or spending less? Does a complaint from a colleague at work scare you into worrying about your job security?
NVC and abundance
One of the important principles of nonviolent communication that I really connect to around money is its its focus on abundance (or sufficiency if you don’t like the word abundance). There are a variety of ways to meet needs and when we connect with our underlying needs, a shift happens that connects us to this abundance of strategies. When we are focused on a particular strategy to meet a need (For ex:my husband should listen to me – if I have a need to be heard), we are in scarcity mode because the truth is there are 7.4 billion people in the world, including myself that could potentially meet my need. To understand the difference between needs and strategies, click here. A key assumption of Nonviolent communication, which links to this principle, created by Inbal Kashtan and Miki Kashtan around scarcity is listed below:
Our world offers abundant resources for meeting needs: When human beings are committed to valuing everyone’s needs and have regained their skills for fostering connection and their creativity about sharing resources, we can overcome our current crisis of imagination and find ways to attend to everyone’s basic needs.
More about scarcity
Around scarcity, I have a powerful example to share from childhood. I was a young girl- maybe 8 or 9 and we were visiting Bihar, one of the poorest states in India, back in the ’80’s. We drove this rattly old jeep into a village and visited the parents of our two nannies. We had to creep into their hut; they had little food to offer us. Yet, they scrambled around and gave us 2 boiled eggs to eat. They were excited to share and looked so pleased as we ate. Looking back, I realise now that they had such an abundant mindset. There are many wealthy people who would be afraid to share if food was hard to come by but they were generous.
Scarcity is a fear driven mindset and stems from our belief that we are separate from others. This makes us want to compete from a fearful, contracted place. From countless conversations with many people around money, (thanks to my profession as a financial adviser), I am certain that it has little correlation to the money or actual resources we have. A great example of the abundant or sufficiency mindset would be Mother Theresa or Sir Stephen Hawking who created/create much in the world but we would view them from a ‘normal’ lens as not having access to resources.
A global pilgrimage without money
Recently, I met Satish Kumar, a former monk and long-term peace and environment activist, at an Awakin gathering in London. Inspired in his early 20’s by British peace activist Bertrand Russell, Satish embarked on an 8,000-mile peace pilgrimage through deserts, mountains, storms and snow. Carrying no money (I repeat, no money at all) and depending on the kindness and hospitality of strangers, they walked from India to America, via Moscow, London and Paris, to deliver a humble packet of ‘peace tea’ to the then leaders of the world’s four nuclear powers. Mr. Kumar explained that he had learned to be fearless and to have trust and faith in the kindness of strangers; there were days, he said, with a twinkle in his eye, he slept under a “million star” hotel, (the sky) however he clearly thrived from this life changing experience. It was inspiring for everyone present to hear about his journey with no money, his highly optimistic outlook on life and his huge faith in the goodness of human kind.
Again, although he had no money (a strategy to help meet his needs), he was creative enough to find other ways to meet his needs which I imagine were for contribution, physical well-being and support. Again, once we connect to our needs, we have greater clarity to get these met by making requests or via strategies such as asking strangers to house and feed us, if need be.
Uncovering the ‘shoulds’
A few years ago, I discovered I had many ‘shoulds’ in relation to money and my work ethic. Some were that I ‘should’ work all the hours possible and I ‘should always’ excel at everything. I realised how unhappy I was working more hours than I really wanted to; my identity seemed to be so connected to my success at work and when work fulfillment eventually started to feel empty and words of praise started to feel hollow, I decided to think of how I could change this.
Digging deeper, I connected with my need to contribute, to really believe in what I offered and to enjoy autonomy and freedom with my work, realising that a job in a global bank with closely monitored activity and output was not for me. I decided to work for myself and explore ways of doing that; eventually I realised that I could actually work with the skills I had as a financial adviser for myself;it was one of the best decisions I ever made! I now have a conscious work ethic; I still ocassionally work long hours but I am in full choice when I do. I am much happier with the balance between work and life and I get to have choice about the clients I work with. I want to keep remaining conscious of the choice I have -to move towards what I want ( freedom, work with integrity, to contribute and autonomy) and what is important to me rather than operating from my old, static beliefs or acting out of guilt, obligation or people pleasing behaviour.
Work with your own scarcity beliefs
Nonviolent communication is about digging deeper – beyond thoughts to what is underneath – feelings and needs. And being creative with the strategies we use to meet our needs, so we can help make our lives more wonderful. It is also so much more…If you are keen to explore more about NVC, please watch Marshall Rosenberg’s workshop on YouTube or buy NonViolent Communication, A Language of Life
If you are curious, here is a ted talk featuring Mr. Satish Kumar, titled Soil, Soul and Society
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