The best moment is always now!

Published: Monday 1st February 2021.
Interview with Pernille Plantener (Coach and NVC Trainer*)
Angelina: Pernille, you work with people from all over the world, how do you discover the beauty within someone during a session?

Pernille: Yes, if you are talking about all over the world it is really the experience of our shared humanity. Whether people come from India, Thailand, the EU or the US, we are all human beings and we have so much in common. That is the beautiful thing.

Angelina: Why did you choose to study people and their needs? Why do you believe that needs are so important in our life?

Pernille: Because it is the common denominator between us. All human beings share the same basic needs. We have physical needs for shelter food and drink and we also share needs with one another such as respect, acceptance, appreciation, acknowledgment, understanding and so forth. And once we meet each other’s needs, we get a real sense of being deeply connected, not just to individuals but to everybody in a broader sense.

Angelina: So, the point is when you work on people needs it promotes the true connection with yourself and other people?

Pernille: Yes, needs are ways to understand ourselves and each other. The way we connect to our needs and the needs of others is through our feelings. Whether they are happy feelings such as contentment, and joy, or whether they are negative feelings like anger, depression, or fear, they all point to needs, being met or not. This is the way to understand each other, to be curious about the feelings we have and to find the needs hiding behind our feelings.

Angelina: What would you tell people who say that they do not have any needs and live their life without being aware of their needs and feelings?

Pernille: That is one of the things that really concerns me when it happens. I see people who live their life thinking that the only way to be safe is to eliminate their needs. So, what I say to those people is that I really want to be with them and give them the experience of having company. I also let them know that I understand why they may have chosen to think that way, being the best strategy for them but that it shuts down some important aspect of being human. This usually builds trust which shows that there are feelings inside them. It is especially important because feelings are worth it, they give us the experience of living our life. It is like the difference between listening to a concert from the concert hall and listening to the concert from inside the arena. If we do not have feelings, we do not really experience the fullness of life.

Angelina: It is so beautiful how you talk about it. What do you recommend to people who are experiencing difficult moments in their life and do not see any hope?

Pernille: Oh dear, what I think is important is for them to find one person whom they can trust, who is able to really listen to them, and be with them through whatever pain or hardship they are experiencing without any agenda to change it for them. Because the paradox is that when we accept what we feel and who we are we can change it. But the first step is always to fully acknowledge and feel where we stand.

Angelina: What is the best source of power. How can we feel, discover our power? Do you believe that everybody has inner strength?

Pernille: I think power resides in the freedom we have to choose how we react to what happens in our life. Not what happens when somebody is doing something we really do not like and we just react automatically, shutting down, or blaming other people. If we become aware of what triggered our reaction following what someone did, and then we notice that we have the choice about how we want to think about it before acting, it is claiming the freedom to change our life and it is very powerful.

Angelina: Yes, so we do not have to change other people, we just must change our attitude to understand their situation?

Pernille: Yes, that is the first step and that might lead to asking other people if they would change something in particular. But it comes from a much more powerful place if there is a sense of choice rather than us demanding it. I guess everybody knows how it feels when someone tells us to do something. It can easily create a distance. But when people have a more mature approach and ask kindly if they would discuss it, it is much more likely that it will happen.

Angelina: What happens when people discover what they really need? Have you experienced this when a client for the first time discovers what he needs?

Pernille: It can be quite an overwhelming experience at the beginning but very quickly people realise that they can get some results straight away. Just tasting the sweetness of getting to know themselves and taking care of their own feelings and needs. That allows them to care of other people feelings and needs. Like a mum who sees her children angry or fearful just kisses them in a mature manner. This is how we are with ourselves and with others so it benefits both us and the people around us.

Angelina: Do you think that some people are afraid to meet their needs because they think that t will be wrong, that they would disappear?

Pernille: Yes, they can be afraid that other people will not like them if they start to concentrate on their own feelings and needs. This is an experience they probably have had in their childhood. Perhaps they had parents who did not have the capacity to take care of their own needs and feelings, so the children had to act as grownups, on an emotional level. But if someone met their needs, the benefit would have been for them as well as the people in the family and around them.

Angelina: When you work with people, what is the hardest moment in your journey?

Pernille: For me or for the people?

Angelina: For your clients and for you as well.

Pernille: For me it is not hard. For my clients it is the moment when they realise how much they have sacrificed and how huge the costs have been to them. At the beginning they do not have the skills to change this, so they have to be on this process a little a bit longer before the changes start to operate. The journey brings a lot of grief. Grief about what has been missed, about what they wish to have done differently. Grieving is an important practice. It is saying goodbye to our dreams, goodbye to things we hoped for and never got.

Angelina: You know it sounds like some kind of transformation from kid to adult. When you have to say goodbye to some items or issues in your life….

Pernille: Yes, it is true, and it is about growing into maturity in some way. Even though I would like to moderate this because people are very mature and grown-up even if they chose to live in the sacrifice of their own needs and feelings. So, it is not that kind of maturity, it is more like growing to the potential of humans, a potential of gentleness towards ourselves and gentleness towards others.

Angelina: Sometimes people do not have a connection with themselves for a long, long time. How can we rebuild some connections with our inner world?

Pernille: This is a very important question. THE BEST MOMENT IS ALWAYS NOW. We cannot change what happened in the past, but now we can. What do we feel in this moment? This might be a very difficult question. We can ask ourselves; do we feel our chest expanding or contracting? If our chest is contracting, something is not good for us, we have some needs that have not being met. Gradually it builds a sense of own inner life and we become conscious about it and find some words to communicate with the world.

* Nonviolent Communication (abbreviated NVC, also called Compassionate Communication or Collaborative Communication) is a communication process developed by Marshall Rosenberg beginning in the 1960s. It focuses on three aspects of communication: self-empathy (defined as a deep and compassionate awareness of one's own inner experience), empathy (defined as an understanding of the heart in which we see the beauty in the other person), and honest self-expression (defined as expressing oneself authentically in a way that is likely to inspire compassion in others).