When People Just Seem “Crazy”…How Can We Make Sense of It?

(Note: NVC is an abbreviation for Nonviolent Communication, a fluid, ever-evolving language process created by Dr. Marshall Rosenberg. It is also sometimes referred to as Compassionate Communication, and is based on universal human feelings and needs, the giving of empathy and making humble requests rather than demands. For information on services offered by Steve Pollack, please visit www.mediation-usa.net)

Crazy, like the word “sick,” has been co-opted and adapted by younger generations to mean all sorts of things. It can mean “fantastic” or “amazing.” But the older, traditional sense of the word carries a strong note of judgment, similar to words like twisted, deranged or damaged. The implied judgment is that a crazy person has suffered emotional or psychological damage for years and may be beyond help. The common belief is that it’s impossible for us to connect with a “crazy” person in a meaningful way.

A quick litmus test to see if there is some implied judgment inherent in a word is very easy: just imagine someone using that word to describe you.

For instance, if someone tells you you’re crazy, twisted, deranged or damaged, do you feel irritated or hurt? If so, there is probably some judgment in that word.

It is very tempting to just pass people or situations off as crazy. Remember, in NVC there is no right or wrong, so it’s not wrong to use judgmental words; it is just less likely to help you and others to connect and effectively meet mutual needs.

We use words like crazy because we’ve been conditioned and programmed for decades, since childhood, to write people off in this way. Once we judge them in this cursory way, we’ve explained their behavior which we don’t understand. It’s a convenient way to avoid trying to understand a person’s feelings, unmet needs, and chosen actions or strategies.

It gives a sense of relief, I suppose, for the moment. It is quick and easy, an automatic knee-jerk response to express some of the confusion and frustration we may be feeling.

For those who are longing for their own spiritual consciousness to grow and evolve, it may be helpful to ask what kind of energy are we creating or putting out there when we judge people or situations as crazy?

We call people crazy when our need for information and understanding of those people are not being met. But we don’t have to stay confused, annoyed, frustrated or disgusted…and we certainly have alternative choices other than to judge.

An NVC approach to this can help us move beyond those painful feelings. Each time you call someone or something crazy, see what you are feeling and needing. If the unmet need is for understanding, see if there are ways you can ask questions to get more information that empowers you to understand others in a more compassionate way. Even if you just do some creative brainstorming about what may have happened to the “crazy” person, what pain they’ve been through, what unfulfilled needs they may have…this can all bring us to a more compassionate consciousness.

We can break the flippant habit of judging others as crazy or insane by looking at the feelings and needs of everyone concerned in any given situation.

For information on services offered by Steve Pollack, please visit www.mediation-usa.net

Visiting the Miami area? You can attend Steve’s NVC Support Group by leaving your rsvp here: www.nvccoachmiami.com

About swpollack

I’m an independent mediator and collaborative communication coach who can help you to co-create greater ease, connection and mutual understanding in your personal and professional relationships. As a non-traditional specialist, my aim is to get concrete results for my clients in a fraction of the time usually required by traditional therapy and counseling. Please visit my business website: www.mediation-usa.net . The emotion-based coaching work I do is deeply therapeutic, yet I am neither a psychologist nor a psychotherapist. Instead I work with a holistic, empathic process called compassionate, nonviolent communication. I also facilitate ongoing support groups for people who want to learn this organic process of nonjudgmental communication to help build bridges of connection, harmony, collaboration and understanding. For more about my Build Compassionate Relationships meetup group, visit: www.nvccoachmiami.com . I’ve been offering these services to the public since 2000 in the greater Miami and Fort Lauderdale area, as well as by phone and through Skype conferencing. . Nonviolent Communication is a process developed by Dr. Marshall Rosenberg. It’s based on a very pure, nonjudgmental language of feelings, needs and requests. I’ve found this to be a powerful tool in my mediation work which involves bringing two or more people together despite a painful history of conflict.
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