around you? Who wouldn’t? This book, by Thom Bond, does just that.
Over a course of 52 chapters – conveniently a year’s worth of weeks – The Compassion Book1, is full of ideas, theoretical background, practical advice, and sufficient exercises to get you started. Based on the philosophy and practice of Nonviolent Communication (NVC), introduced to the world by Marshall Rosenberg, this book is a welcome addition to the growing body of resources for the learning of NVC.
Bond helps us understand the basis of NVC, which could simply be summarised in 3 tenets:
- All our actions are taken in order to satisfy needs.
- If our needs are met, then “good” feelings arise: joy, happiness, satisfaction, relief…
- If our needs are not met, then “bad” feelings arise: resentment, sadness, disgust…, up to and including anger.
Bond shows how this understanding leads to greater compassion, not only for others, but also towards ourselves. We can, according to Bond, move beyond the constraining dualities we were taught: should/shouldn’t, right/wrong, good/evil. These, and others, often burden our thoughts and hence our actions.
He also helps us to understand that our feelings, once we become attuned to them, are helpful messengers – they point us to our underlying needs. The, acknowledging our needs, we are better able to act with self-compassion, self-awareness, and communicate with others in more helpful and satisfying ways.
Working through each chapter, and undertaking the exercises in each, allowed me to gain a greater understanding of my feelings and needs, how these are connected, and how I can have more satisfying connections with others.
Many of my needs were met by reading, and working through this book: clarity, understanding, awareness, learning, acceptance, and self-respect come to mind.
There is just one need I would have liked to have been more satisfied: the need for greater challenge in the examples given. Many of Bond’s examples are on the “easy” to “middling” end of the spectrum of difficulty in encounters. I would like to hear of examples where NVC is applied to the “difficult” end of the spectrum of interactions: e.g. dealing with bullies (at school and in the workforce), racist abuse, all the way through to international conflict. (These may be the stuff of another book).
My challenge then, is to understand the principles from Bond’s simple examples and discover how to apply these principles in the more “difficult” situations.
These 500 or so words have been unable to fully justify this book. You’ll just have to buy it, or enrol in Thom Bond’s year-long online course.
Thank you Thom Bond.
1. Thom Bond, The Compassion Book, One Human Publishing, Orange Lake, New York, 2017