by a prisoner in Monroe
I’ve been imprisoned several times. Every time I got out, I held onto the same friends and the same behavior, always landing back in prison. But this time is different: I now have a wonderful wife and children who come to visit me every week.
Because I am tired of living my life in prison, I decided to enroll in every available class to help me turn my life around. I started to attend NVC workshops, and when I began to practice the new insights, I began to change. Here’s an example of how I have changed.
Recently I had a heated argument with another inmate. Tempers flared and anger reached such a pitch that we were screaming at each other. When he shoved me I flew backwards onto the ground, sliding on my butt several feet before coming to a halt. In a state of fury I leapt up, intent on smashing him. In the split second it took to push myself off the ground, however, a most amazing thing happened.
In NVC we are encouraged to connect with our deep needs and values. We train ourselves to constantly come back to our hearts. In just that split second of getting off the ground, my wife, my children, my visits, and my future flashed before my eyes. My fists stayed at my side.
That was amazing because all my life I’ve moved with the energy of those fists. My pride was crushed. There were half a dozen men watching; they had seen my humiliating slide. I was sure that everyone thought of me as a weakling.
I walked out, head down, straight to the track and ran six laps, with tears swelling. I hated what had happened, and I questioned my choice of not fighting. But after a while I felt at peace and realized that I had taken the first step in my new life.
Within a week, five of the six guys who had witnessed the fight expressed their approval of my behavior. What surprised me even more: the man who had shoved me came up and extended his hand in friendship.