We had such a heartfelt response to Lisa’s story regarding the shame she felt about her anger that we decided to do a follow-up blog post. Lisa used The No-Fault Zone® Game as I had suggested and she has agreed to share photos of her mat and her description of the process she went through with the cards.
Using The No-Fault Zone® Game To Increase Self-Awareness
You don’t always have to do The No-Fault Zone® Game with someone. We can learn much about ourselves by using the cards to connect with our feelings and needs in any personal situation.
Lisa took some time by herself and got out her No-Fault Zone® Game. She wasn’t feeling angry at that moment but she allowed herself to remember a recent situation that had made her angry. She had come home exhausted from work to a messy house and a sink full of dirty dishes, left there by her daughters. She had lost her temper and yelled at her children after which she felt massive shame. Lisa decided to focus her time using the mat and cards to better understand her harsh reaction to herself after her outburst, rather than the specific situation with her daughters.
Lisa considered the thermometer on the bottom of the mat and rated herself as hot. Even just thinking about the situation brought up a physical reaction in her again! She looked through the Choices Cards and laid down ones that she felt were options for her in that situation.
Some were obvious, like getting angry or judging and blaming others. Those were reactions she knew well! She also recognized that sometimes she withdraws and shuts down when she gets angry, perhaps because she feels overwhelmed by the emotions the situation has triggered.
Two choices she had never considered were to Check her Feeling Thermometer at that moment and to Connect With her Feelings and Needs. Becoming aware of the level of her anger made her feel like she was observing it rather than being overwhelmed in it. This gave her a sense of emotional distance and space, which better allowed her to perceive her feelings and needs in the situation. I recommended that Lisa follow the SLOW steps the next time she felt emotionally overwhelmed.
Next, Lisa picked up the Feelings Cards and made her selection.
Obviously she was furious and frustrated at her daughter’s actions. She was tense and irritated. She realized that much of that tension was actually from her job which she was not enjoying. (That might need another session with The No-Fault Zone® Game!)
Lisa also acknowledged her disappointment and sadness that she was feeling so angry again. She also felt discouraged that even though she had been growing so much personally, she had still lost her temper. She felt scared that it was always going to be this way and overwhelmed and helpless that she might never be able to change. At that point, Lisa also became conscious that she felt very lonely in her anger. When she thought more about this, she understood that her shame and remorse after losing her temper caused her to judge herself harshly. That in turn made her feel unworthy and then she isolated herself from others.
Lisa was already feeling calmer and more hopeful because she was, for the first time, beginning to understand herself and why she reacted the way she did.
She was ready to think about her needs and after looking through the cards, Lisa made her selection.
Lisa longed for a sense of peace and clarity. She wanted a sense of connection with her daughters but she discovered that she also needed it with herself. She was surprised to notice that she also needed to be kind to herself, she wanted to understand and accept herself, to offer herself love and empathy. How different this was to what she normally gave herself - harsh criticism and judgment. Lisa recognised that she also needed to request help and support as she continued her personal growth journey.
Action Leads To Clarity
As Lisa looked over her mat and the cards laid before her, she felt a deep sense of calm and a stirring of hope. She was starting to understand herself in a profound way. At that moment it wasn’t even about the angry outburst any longer. Lisa felt deep empathy for herself. She understood for the first time what she had read in Nonviolent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg - that it’s never really about the situation, it’s about our unmet needs that are crying out to us for attention.
Lisa made the decision to honour those needs and offer herself compassion and patience as she worked towards understanding her emotions. As Lisa made that choice, she felt the remnants of her anger dissolve away and tears of relief and joy filled her eyes.
*Lisa’s name has been changed to protect her privacy