Nonviolent Communication teaches us that what other people say or do is not the cause of our anger. What people say or do might be the stimulus but the true cause of our anger is our own thoughts of blame and judgment (what we are telling ourselves).

If we are able to separate the stimulus from the cause, we can realize that we can be triggered (stimulus) but we can choose how to respond (the cause).

So often we hear people and especially parents say things like “ You make me so mad when you do that.” The truth is that they make themselves mad – they choose to be triggered by the other. They blame the other, when in fact they did not take responsibility for their own feelings and needs.

Before I started studying and practicing NVC I must admit that I sometimes used the strategy of blame to get my needs met. So often it was when I was rushed and believed I had to be somewhere on time. I needed some co-operation and ease (universal needs) and I wasn’t getting it. My three kids were running around throwing toys at one another. I can remember my mother using this strategy and I thought it was the way to get your need met- a way to discipline the kids. However, I knew when an adult used “you make me feel” directed at me, I felt angry and resentful.

Marshall said “The cause of anger lies in our thinking- in thoughts of blame and judgment” If instead we sense into our feelings and look at what we are needing (our unmet universal needs), we can find strategies to meet our needs in ways which help us understand and deal with our anger in a non-violent way.