Ownership as a road to freedom

Owning who you are and what you want. What you feel, think, imagine, desire, intuit.

As a tool it has been a profound teaching to me. In Circling ‘owning your experience’ is pretty much rule number one, based on Non-Violent Communication. Taking full responsibility of your view of the world is the starting point to creating more depth in your relationships, and in yourself.

It seems obvious. And it is nice when I am doing well, but as soon as I get triggered, am grumpy, when I do not want to consider another’s perspective, that is where the true teaching starts.

It is easy to say: “I like this”. “O, yes, I want that candy”. “I imagine you are having fun”. It is a lot harder when I am going into the territory of: “I imagine you are angry with me”. I judge you to be stupid”, “I feel pain / despair / fear”, “I am uncomfortable, I want to withdraw”, and so on..

The tender territory.

And how owning my experience has been teaching me, over and over again, is that as soon as I start thinking: “O but she…”, “She is always…”, “He always does…” (fill in the blanks with your favourite judgement), I stop and consider what my experience in that moment is.

Rather often kicking and screaming, because right at that moment I do not want to look at my own experience and take radical responsibility. Because I actually feel pain, or disgust, or frustration, or that I do not belong. It is way easier to judge somebody else in those moments than to have to feel these things in myself.

And yet, when I get to it: that is where the magic happens.

I acknowledge, sometimes with shame or guilt, what I feel, what I imagine or judge. And as soon as I do that, a veil lifts. I see clearer. I have spoken truth about my experience and there is nothing else to say, except, “ah that was my truth”. It is better, less busy in my head. I have ‘simply’ owned my experience.

It creates freedom; because a truly owned experience is simply true – for you. And that opens the gateway to hearing the impact that has on the other person, and to true intimacy.

I was reminded about this topic this week, both because my friend Josh Stein is diving deep into this territory from a Circling perspective (and I love him for doing that, as it is much needed in my opinion), and because I got triggered by two people that I respect dearly that did not behave as I imagined they would. I felt disappointed in them. I had expectations they did not live up to (which always sucks).

And for a few days I grumbled. ‘”I cannot believe she did not do that and said that”. “Ugh, I think I do not want contact anymore” (the classic withdrawal). The process felt painful. Because I knew I was not being honest to myself, and that nagging feeling (you know which one I mean) kept persisting: “Hmm, what is going on here? What is really true for you?” And finally I could admit in one case that I was simply sad. About what had happened. And that I wished we could have stayed in better connection. I could tell this person I valued our relationship. And that was it. It was not perfect, but I felt better.

I felt relief and a sense of completion. I felt closer to myself. And at ease with my experience. It makes such a difference.

In my upcoming Circling Facilitation Training we will go deep into the topic of true ownership; both of your shadow and your light. Because truly owning all of you will bring you into deeper intimacy with yourself, and you will become a more powerful leader because of it. If you are an experienced Circler and want to step up your personal leadership through the practise of Circling Facilitation, this course might be for you.

And of course, if you have any questions, about this topic or about this training, I’d be happy to connect with you.


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Coach, trainer & lover of all things human and relational. Supporting you in finding a deeper connection to yourself & others, so you can truly lead, wherever you are.

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