Marshall Rosenberg taught me that all communication boils down to us saying either “please” or “thank you”.

Seems like most of what “we” post on Facebook or other social media is more the “Thank you” side rather than the “please” side. We celebrate life events, travel experiences, friendships, encounters, workshops, insights, etc.

Exceptions seem to be around health crises we or family members experience, and occasionally other requests for support. I enjoy that balance.

Here comes a “please”.

The other day, I had quite a shock.  Waking up in Shanghai after a restful sleep, my peace shattered when I received an extortion attempt in my email. Someone had hijacked an account name, email address and password, and used that information to attempt to get me to pay a bitcoin ransom to avoid having potentially embarrassing information posted to all my Facebook friends.

It included a convincing and psychologically skillful and manipulative message that sent my nervous system into overdrive, even though my rational mind doubted the ability of the “extorter” to fulfill their threat. My emotional mind responded with anxiety and fear, my body got shaky, my mind raced. I felt such surprise at the emotional reaction!

I sat with my needs-for respect, for choice, for care, to be seen, for love…for clarity about actions I could take to protect myself. I felt all alone. Jori slept peacefully by my side, completely, blissfully unaware of how I had hijacked myself. I did not want to wake her up. I did not want her to freak out like I was freaking out!

My heart finally said, “take action…take any action even if it may or may not help!”

I started changing passwords to online accounts. (This project consumed me for the better part of the day. Who knew how many passwords I had and how potentially linked some accounts are! (I learned “never use the same password twice!”)

I did research to find out what I was up against. I gave myself lots of empathy. I got empathy from Jori, although it took me awhile to be willing to ask.

That was another surprise. (My need in not asking for support was protecting Jori and myself. I had the story that if this was so upsetting for me, it would be upsetting for her, too. If she was upset, then I would be distracted from caring for my own needs. What a tangled web we can weave!)

In my research, I discovered that this kind of threat is common with data breaches. I offer you this information in the hopes it can support your choicefulness if something like this ever happens to you.

https://www.ic3.gov/media/2016/160601.aspx

I hope it doesn’t!

I feel sad thinking that we share the planet with brothers and sisters so desperate to find ways to get their needs met that they would try extortion. It’s a humbling experience to be on the other side of what I interpret as a “power over” intimidation. There is also something surprisingly connecting about our shared vulnerability. Who among us does not have something embarrassing or shameful that we would prefer to be kept private?

It awakens compassion in me for all of our brothers and sisters who receive direct and indirect threats to life, wellbeing or rights everyday. It inspires me to keep working on awakening myself and supporting others to the power of needs-based strategies to find ways to contribute to one another in mutual ways. This update is a strategy to care for all of us.

How is it for you to read this?

Warm aloha from Yantai, China