Why Do We Have Feelings; By Jim Manske

Imagine it was your job to operate a complex piece of machinery, for example being the pilot of an aircraft. As the pilot, you have clarity on your role, and you have been well trained to perform it.
And then, imagine you volunteer to fly a new kind of an airplane as a test pilot. This new plane is considered to be the state of the art, with the capacity of efficiently whisking passengers and freight from one location to another with a single crew member, a pilot.
When you climb into the cockpit for your first training flight, you sit in the cockpit, strapped into your seat with a spectacular view out of the windscreen. Everything seems so sleek and modern. At first, the simplicity of the design stimulates excitement and you look forward to trying this new machine!
You see the various control systems, like familiar pedals and steering devices, lots of switches and knobs.
But, something is missing.  There are no instruments, no display, not even a clock! You look for basic information like, “is there fuel in the tank?” or “which direction are we pointing toward.” You learn nothing.
No doubt, you leave the cockpit and say, “I can’t fly this! There’s no feedback! There’s no information about the state of various systems required to operate a complex piece of machinery like this!”
——
Obviously, that’s not a workable scenario. To operate an airplane, or a car, or even a simple piece of machinery like a toaster, we need instruments that give us feedback about the state of the machine. Likewise with our bodies, we require information that lets us know the state of the organism that we inhabit. That’s the function of feelings.
Feelings (sensations and emotions) give us the information we need to manage our bodies and our relationships. The feelings of hunger or thirst let us know we need sustenance, and the feeling fullness lets us know we have had enough. Feeling uncomfortably stuffed lets us know we ate or drank more than our body could easily process.
Likewise, a feeling of loneliness tells us we are hungry for connection. Every feeling sends us a signal about the state of our needs. We need our feelings to address our Needs! Our Needs actually create our feelings! Our feelings may be influenced by the outside world, but the cause is inside us, our Needs.
Once we understand the reason that we have feelings, it becomes easier to own them. We come to understand that the sensations and emotions we generate exist to support us in sustaining our lives, and once we succeed in that, we can move toward thriving.  We can learn to appreciate the full range of sensations and emotions we experience as human, grateful for the information they provide and the guidance they give us about our movement toward fulfilling our Needs.

Being Present with Feelings; by Jim Manske

 

I remember the first time I saw a kaleidoscope. I felt awed by the ever-changing, unique patterns that materialized and disappeared as I manipulated it. I felt entranced by the beauty and complexity, joyfully astonished at the seemingly infinite variety of temporary pattern and color. I still feel excited when I see kaleidoscopes!

When I started teaching NVC, I used a kaleidoscope as a metaphor for the ever-changing, dynamic nature of our human responses, our feelings. When something happens in the world, it stimulates us in our bodies. Something arises within us, our subjective experience of physical sensations and emotions. These signals give us vital information about the current state of our needs.

Developing an ever-increasing awareness of feelings, as well as a vocabulary to describe how we feel, supports both self-connection and connecting with others. We can develop descriptions of our inner landscape to support us in understanding our own needs and communicating our requests to others. This expanded inner awareness also supports us in empathy as we realize that feelings can be pointers to Needs.

We generally experience pleasurable feelings as easy to be with (e.g. happy, content, satisfied, relaxed); but, painful feelings can be challenging! Learning to stay present and observational during painful emotions stretches our capacity and goes against the grain of a deeply habitual reaction to automatically move away from pain. This seems like a common experience among all people and other living beings. Sometimes it even saves us from more pain to move away! This deeply adaptive response is hooked to our very survival!

It’s easy for me to connect to the fear of experiencing certain feelings in myself or others. For example, it’s still a challenge for me to stay present in the face of anger directed toward me or the suffering of someone I’m close to because of my habitual fearful or sympathetic reactions. I’m learning to increase my presence to that kind of strong emotion by sharpening my intention to observe what is happening and to connect to the meaning of the feeling. I’m also learning to coach myself to stay present by gently challenging the assumption that experiencing a feeling can permanently damage me or others.

Once, I had developed an expectation that Jori and I would go out on a date together, celebrating at a local restaurant. When the time for the date arrived, our life circumstances had shifted and other pressing requests caused us to change our plans. I felt disappointment. As we talked about this together, a wave of emotion arose within me. I could also notice how much I wanted to move away from this strong, painful reaction.

Instead of following this old habit to move away, to find some balm or mask for the pain, I excused myself and went to just sit on my meditation pillow, curious to see how deep these feelings would go if I allowed myself permission to explore them with Presence. I noticed the pain ebbing and flowing, tears welling, crying, disappointment, annoyance…my emotional experience shifted to a monologue of life’s parade of disappointments, how I “always” “had to” give up my needs for others, how I “never” got what I wanted! This suffering mutated into a seething stew of resentment and anger.

Suddenly, I contacted a deeper level of sadness. Sitting in the sadness, I cried. Soon, the sobbing quieted, my mind stilled, and an openness in my heart awakened. And all that in about 5 minutes! Wow, what an eye-opener that was for me.

Of course, I felt sad! So often, humans feel the sting of things not going the way they expect! Of course, we hurt when this happens!

When I remind myself that feelings are transient, usually lasting for 40 seconds or less, I feel open, relaxed, and alert. As I open to the present experience of emotion within me or alive in others, I am learning to cultivate wonder, focusing my attention on the meaning of the signal represented by the feeling. This awareness supports me in an opening to the quality of connection that inspires compassionate giving and receiving.

Compassion & Empathy; By Jaya Manske

United Hands

There is a cost to compassion and empathy. When everything, all your love, all your care, all your passion is extended outward, there is an exhaustion that sets in slowly and lightly, and then eventually so heavy it’s hard to move.

Remember to turn some of that compassion inward.

One of the most profound moments for me was about a year and a half ago, right after trump took office. In the middle of the night, I woke up with such tremendous gratitude for the self-empathy practice I had set out to strengthen a year before

.

A year before I had said to myself “I am tired of the way you speak to me, and I am tired of always being last.” I had realized that, even though I had left my abusive relationship 10 years earlier, I was still in one…with myself. And I became determined to *love the woman in the mirror*.

It is hard in a world that has told us loving ourselves is bad- “you’ll get too big for your britches,” “you’ll develop an ego,” “you’ll become full of yourself,” “you’ll forget about other people.”

The last one is the doozy for a loving, open-hearted, caring soul. Life is spent filling in the gaps it seems so few are willing to fill. Loving and fighting for the people who are on the fringes, at risk of being forgotten. Giving, giving, giving. And the last thing I wanted was to forget *that* love. Because that love is where my *humanity* lives. My capacity for empathy is what kept and keeps me knowing I am alive and in relationship to the world. So I spent a lifetime believing I could not love me and everyone else at the same time. So I chose all of you, and all of those who do not know me.

In that moment 2.5 years ago, I pivoted. I thought to myself “even if it takes until I am 70 years old, this pursuit is worth it. I will find a way to love me, too.”

Just one year later, on this evening, I felt an awakening in me. For the first time, perhaps shockingly to some of you reading, I realized I in the midst of the interconnection I see in humanity and all living things, I also exist. I am a *part* of that interconnected whole. It was a spiritual awakening – in which I realized the truth of the words “if all beings are deserving of love, so am I” that I so desperately wanted to believe in.

So while compassion and empathy can have a cost, when we include ourselves and surround ourselves by others who speak the language of the heart and are interested in love, care, connection, equality, etc., it doesn’t have to break us. In fact, it can fortify. Love is bigger than we are. It is an ever replenishing resource when it is flowing in and flowing out at the same time. There is enough for me and for you, it is not a choice between the two. I would argue that living without this love, without this empathy and compassion, I would be stripping myself of my essence and my humanity. And that, I cannot live without, but I have had to learn to live with it.

Jaya Manske is the founder and owner of Coaching Compassion, and a Certified Mindfulness and Wellness Coach

Her individualized approach to coaching draws from the fields of positive psychology, interpersonal neurobiology, somatics, mindfulness, developmental and attachment theories, Nonviolent Communication and more. Her warm presence has supported clients to have significant breakthroughs, to transform from the inside out, and move forward powerfully.

If you wish to share your thoughts on this piece or are interested in learning more about coaching with Jaya, you can contact her by emailing her at coachingcompassion@gmail.com or filling out a contact form on her website at www.coaching-compassion.com

Judgment and Insight

In my experience, I almost always judge a person or situation because I would judge myself in the same way if I behaved that way.
For example, in the culture I grew up in, it was considered impolite to interrupt, that is, to begin speaking before another person finishes.
So, I have created lots of suffering because not everyone was raised in the post-antebellum south. I would judge (and still do sometimes) others who interrupt me or others.
Likewise, when I notice (or another points out) that I have interrupted, I become my own harshest critic.
NVC helps me to soften both judgment and self-judgment by helping me to understand that all behaviors are motivated by needs. Thus, I can humanize “the interruptor”, guessing about their needs to be heard, for connection, for empathy, for engagement. I may not agree with their strategy. I do understand the human, universal needs that motivate their behavior which softens my judgment.
Likewise, when I discover my own behavior, I can meet myself with warmth and connect to the needs I was hoping to meet by interrupting, and from that self-empathy choose how I want to proceed, from now on. This has helped me to develop both patience and discernment. Now I see that the most needs meeting behavior sometimes is to start speaking before another finishes, and that is true for others as well. (Discenrment). I also have learned to appreciate my southern culture and patiently await another finishing if my intuition tells me that will meet the most needs at the least cost.

 

Jim Manske
Certified Trainer, Center for Nonviolent Communication CNVC.org
President, Network for NVC www.networkfornvc.org (a 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization)

On Needs by Jim Manske

United Hands

For me, the word “need” (as a noun)  points to the essential, intrinsic energy that impels movement toward survival and thriving within living organisms.  In other words, the power that motivates all behaviors.

United Hands

Essential means “absolutely necessary”.

Intrinsic means “inside, coming from within” the organism.  (The dictionary says “belonging naturally”.

Motivational means“spurring action toward a goal or outcome”.

Energy means “that which is non-material and contains potential to sustain and enrich the organism”.

Impels relates to a forward, directional impulse.

Movement implies dynamic, ever-changing motion.

Survival means “to have the necessary resources to continue living.”

Thriving naturally follows survival when abundant resources exist beyond the minimum necessary means to continue life and the organism has access to those resources.  Thriving enhances survival as it increases the likelihood of long-term sustainability.

This energy contains a quality of intelligence, wisdom and compassion that continuously scans through observations (both external and internal) and determines whether pain or pleasure exists; it then motivates an organism to move strategically towards that which it senses will reduce pain and/or enhance pleasure.  (In other word, sensations signal the organism about the state of its needs from moment to moment.  Requests naturally emerge when the organism experiences discomfort, because of the deep impulse emanating from “needs”.)

Additionally, “needs” make meaning for the organism, contributing to learning ever more effective strategies for fulfillment.  This is what I mean when I use the word “value”, which is more or less synonymous with “need”.

For me, the word “need” (as a verb)  points to two levels:

1.  “I need ___________” means “I require ________”, and if I do not get it, I will feel pain or suffer damage or even death.

2.  “I need ____________” means “I yearn for a shift from what is, right now, to what could enhance and/or enrich my life; I notice pain in the present and move toward that which I yearn for to reduce my pain and sustain and/or enhance my life.  Yearn means to long for.  It is interesting for me to note that the archaic definition of yearn is “to be filled with compassion or a warm feeling.”

As I finish this reflection, I remember Marshall’s response to a question I once asked him at a Special Session:  Marshall, what comes up for you when you see people in our community arguing about whether “______ is a feeling or a non-feeling” or if “________ is a need or a strategy”?  I heard him say, “Well, that doesn’t surprise me at all; we are trying to use a language born from domination.  We have not yet invented a language that comes from partnership.”

Jim Manske
Certified Trainer for The Center for Nonviolent Communication, cnvc.org
President, Network for NVC
 
Please join me in a commitment to live from the consciousness that we are one.

Please, let every word that you speak or type be emphatically cleansed of any thought or feeling of separateness before you open your mouth or press “send”. (This in no way implies there is a correct form!)

Please, let every word you hear be filtered by empathy so all you hear is “Please” and “Thank you”.

Please, let every communication express our common aim of living nonviolence and compassion.

May we remember our vision and mission each and every moment, and measure our own actions (and inactions) in relation to those commitments.

NVC in Action: Relationship Dynamics by Aubree Moon

 

This past week, I had a conflict come up with my partner as we were going to sleep. I was feeling sad, and my sadness triggered his anger. He said something to that effect, and I was instantly triggered. A sentence rose in my mind, something along the lines of “I give you support when you feel sad.” Behind those words was the accusation that he didn’t do the same. I KNEW that speaking these words was absolutely in the wrong direction of NVC. I held this sentence in my body, willing myself not to speak it- but the energy of holding it in was excruciating, and it ended up squeaking out of my mouth. Of course, it went downhill from there. Throughout the next couple days, I kept returning to that moment where I had been thinking: ‘Don’t say it. It’s not going to help anything. It’s not NVC, and he’s not even in a place where he can listen.’  And somehow, I said it anyway. My prediction was that he would get even more angry, and my prediction ended up being correct. Why would I say it to him if I had known that it would only make things worse?

Gratefully, I didn’t berate myself for speaking that sentence. In the past I might have gotten upset with myself for “doing something I knew I shouldn’t have done”. Now, I can recognize that I clearly didn’t know that I shouldn’t do it- because I did do it. This means that part of me did in fact want to say it. Admitting that feels validating to a certain part of my consciousness. When I can recognize that part of me wanted to say this accusatory sentence, I can go deeper and find the underlying needs I had in that moment. I had already been feeling sad that evening; I was needing love and empathy. Then when he became upset, I felt anger and fear. My need for empathy became desperate, which triggered my old programming of ‘blaming’ to get what I want. In my highest consciousness, I know this program doesn’t get the results I want; however, it’s very ingrained in my unconscious mind that shaming equals control.

In that moment, I really needed empathy. I was so desperate for it that I couldn’t keep my mouth closed. I felt urgency around being heard and receiving validation. I resorted to unconscious behaviors. There was also an element of the situation feeling “unfair” that made me choose to “stick up for myself” (how I saw it in my mind) versus not say anything and try to stay connected. I see this as experience as taking action to try to meet my needs for empathy and respect. I celebrate those needs and my attempt to get them met, and I also mourn the unmet nature of my needs for integrity and respect. After I said the sentence, my partner felt threatened and left the room. I continued to lay in bed, and pretty quickly connected with myself and my true intentions for love and connection. I was able to soothe myself and after my partner did the same, we reconnected with shy smiles and apologies.

I’m grateful for this experience because next time I recognize that what I am about to say won’t be grounded in intention for connection, I can reflect on this experience and try to give myself empathy instead of seeking it externally. If it’s my need for respect that is in question, I can see that taking some space to be alone and soothe myself is the best action. It’s not often that I have the experience of wanting to say something accusatory and also know that it won’t be beneficial. I see this as a measurement of growth; I am becoming more conscious about the intention and effect of my communication.

Let it RAIN! -Jim Manske CNVC Certified Trainer

For me, remembering the distinction between needs and strategies supports well-being because it goes to the root of suffering.  To clarify what I mean, consider this example I heard at a recent workshop:  “When I need empathy and understanding I want to rely on my mate.  There is something about the quality of intimacy and connection that I expect to get.  When I hear, “No” to my request, I feel hurt andlike I don’t matter.  I realize I can call my friend to get empathy, and sometimes I do.  But, it’s just not the same.  Even after I get some empathy, the next time I see my mate, I feel resentful.”

So, listening to this person it seems clear the needs they would like met:  empathy, understanding, connection, intimacy, to matter.  It also seems clear the person knows how to ask for what they want.  They even seem to understand that, “A need makes no reference to a particular person doing a specific thing.”  Yet, it also seems they are trapped in a web of suffering and resentment.  Why?

When we get addicted to a strategy, we are bound to suffer.  In fact the cause of suffering is addictive thinking.  These addictions, expectations, and demands cause and reinforce a sense of separateness and destroy our serenity.  How then, can we become liberated from these destructive habitual patterns?

RAIN:  Recognize, Accept, Insight, Need

First, learn to recognize the symptoms of addiction, including anger, guilt, depression, shame, anxiety, and resentment.  These destructive feelings are caused by life-alienated thinking patterns including demands, denial of responsibility diagnosis, and deserve-oriented thoughts.

Second, accept that an addictive pattern is playing out in your consciousness.  Human beings have been suffering from addictions for longer than recorded history, so take solace that this is simply part of the human condition.  By accepting that you have addictions, you help to end the addictive hold by not being addicted to not having addictions!

Third, work toward the insight that, “my addictions cause my suffering.”  There are a variety of methods available to support you in achieving this insight, including “translating” addictive, judgmental thinking into feelings and needs through journaling. self-empathy, and/or empathic connection with another community member.

Clarifying that, “my addiction causes my suffering” is the antidote for blame and supports us in taking responsibility and maintaining the clarity that “my feelings emerge from the state of my needs”.  This empowering insight frees up the energy to attend to ourselves and others compassionately.

We may touch profound sadness, despair, and mourning as we connect to the depth of our pain in relationship to certainneeds that have gone unfulfilled.  This pain is a felt sense within the body and is distinct from the suffering of addictive thinking that we sometimes add to the feeling we are having.

From this deepening awareness and self-compassion, a shift inevitably occurs from addictive constriction to the creativity and openness to possibility that characterizes preferences and requests.

To become liberated from the suffering contemplate the following definitions and distinctions.

Need:  the universal resources required to sustain and enrich life.

Strategies:  methods that may or may not contribute to fulfilling needs.

Request:  An offering of a strategy that one predicts will contribute to well-being by fulfilling one or more needs.

Demand:  A life-alienated communication pattern characterized by the urge to punish when one does not get what one wants.  Examples of demand language include phrases that contain, “Should” “Must”, “Have to _________ or else __________.”

Addiction: A strategy that we demand is fulfilled.  When the strategy is not used we suffer from life-alienated thinking, enemy images, and destructive emotions like anger, hatred, and resentment.

Preference: A strategy that we predict will meet needs.  If the preference is not utilized,  one may feel mourning, but there is no suffering.

Suffering:  Destructive emotions and the life-alienated thinking/communication patterns that cause them.

Pain:  The felt-sense of an unmet need composed of physical sensations and emotions.

So returning to the example, and speaking from the first-person perspective of the participant”

*%#$@!, I want  __________ to listen to me!  Can’t they see I’m in pain and need support?  How dare they say no?

AH….I recognize that I am caught up in addictive thinking!  I can accept that I still have addictions.  Everybody on the planet wants to have their way sometime!

Hmmm, I have the insight that my suffering, this resentment, and anger is caused by my thinking.  These enemy images of my lover are excruciating!  How can I hate the person I love?  I want freedom from this addictive thinking!

So, what’s important to me?  What do I Need?  Ah, I’m really needing empathy and the safety that comes from intimacy.  When I hear my mate say, “no”, I feel mournful, disappointment, sadness…I’d really prefer to get my empathy from them, and I don’t want to receive what is not fully given.  I see now that I can get my needs met from within me, perhaps I need some support from my friend.  And, I see how I can approach my mate another time when they are feeling more resourceful and I can ask again to be heard!  So, right now, I’d like to ask me to spend 5 minutes walking and breathing.

The Practice:

Recognize your addictive thinking

Accept that all human beings who have been educated like we have will have addictive thoughts

Gain the Insight that your suffering is the consequence of your thinking

Detect the Need driving the addiction.  As Marshall reminds us: “Every moral judgment is a tragic expression of an unmet Need.”

 

Note:  I first heard the acronym RAIN from one of my Buddhist teachers, Tara Brach.

Taking inspiration from her work with a deep bow of appreciation, I have modified her acronym to fit the NVC model.

For more information on the source:  https://duckduckgo.com/?q=Tara+Brach+RAIN&bext=msl&atb=v95-5&ia=web

Jim Manske
Certified Trainer for The Center for Nonviolent Communication, cnvc.org
President, Network for NVC
 
 
Please check out my online newspaper:
http://www.scoop.it/t/radical-compassion

The more we pay attention, the more we’ll recognize the trance of separation and, from a deep longing for connection and freedom, start examining the causes. But that desire needs to become intentional; we have to want to understand the landscape of what has happened in this country and what’s actually shaping our own limited sense of identity. We need to ask ourselves, “What is it that I’m not seeing?” And if we sincerely want to know the answer—if we want to wake up—we will open our eyes and our hearts. We will begin to free ourselves from the suffering of separation, act in ways that serve the healing of racism, and discover the blessings of realizing our true belonging with each other.”
—-
Jim Manske

p  e  a  c  e  w  o  r  k  s
training~mediating~facilitating~coaching~mentoring~consulting

“Contributing to a world where everyone’s needs can be satisfied reliably & abundantly!”

Why did the chicken cross the road? by Jim Manske

My guess is before you even finished reading that sentence, you already knew the answer.  That ancient childhood joke has become part of how we experience the world at an intuitive level.

Remarkably, for me, the joke contains an important insight into Nonviolent Communication (NVC).

As humans, we intuitively know that every behavior is motivated by a “why”, even the behavior of a chicken.

So, let’s change the joke slightly and consider, “Why did the giraffe** open her mouth?”  The answer?  To get to “the other side of connection.”   We humans intuitively know that opening our mouth (and our ears) supports the connection we need, not only to survive, but to thrive as individuals and as a community.  This understanding represents a deep insight into how to live NVC consciousness, how to make living that process more natural, and shines the light of awareness on why NVC seems to fail us sometimes.

Three questions arise:

  1. Why does NVC seem to fail us sometimes?
  2. How can you make living the process more natural?
  3. How does one live NVC consciousness?

First things first: Why does NVC seem to fail us sometimes? Because of the way we have been educated, we habitually open our mouth in the service of correction, rather than connection.  We are sometimes quick to judge another person’s behavior as wrong (and ours as right); we scan for people that are bad, and think its our job to straighten them out; we take on the role of moral authority, deciding not only what is or is not appropriate, but also who deserves to be punished or rewarded. We think its our job to play the roles of police, prosecutor, judge, and sometimes even executioner.  We may even turn our corrective wrath on ourselves, ruminating about our own bad thoughts or behaviors, then feeling guilty, ashamed, anxious or depressed.

Operating from this intention to correct temporarily blocks the consciousness of NVC.  It’s as if we armor our heart with a protective layer of separateness, anxiously scanning for threats and enemies.  Tragically, this habit can get in the way of another receiving the contribution that we would like to give.  And it gets in the way of getting our own needs met!

So, now looking at the second question, how can we make living NVC more natural and available?”  The quick answer is to notice more often how we naturally live NVC.  In other words, train yourself to notice the times when connection flows easily, when you are joyfully receiving another person’s contribution to you and when you are openly giving to another without expectation of reciprocity.

Check your memory right now for instances when you said a genuine thank you, when you offered support to another or when you responded to another person’s request with an open heart.  All of those are examples of living NVC.  You can make this reality more of your lived experience by simply noting at least three examples of this each day in a gratitude journal.  Writing just a three sentence report about “what’s going well” in your life can have a profound impact on well-being.**

My guess is that you live this consciousness more often than you recognize.  See what happens if you watch for opportunities to acknowledge and notice gratitude and other life-fulfilling emotions.

Now, to the final and most vital question:  How does one live in NVC consciousness?

Three important concepts help us to answer the question:

  1. Presence
  2. Clarity of intention
  3. Openness to outcome

Presence

Living NVC always happens now.  Notice and refine your sense of presence.  Presence is actually our default mode.  Are you present to the words that you are reading right now?  If yes, that is presence.  If you notice you are distracted momentarily with a thought of the past or the future, notice that your awareness of that absence happens right now.  So, even the awareness of absence is a sign of presence.

Notice presence.

Clarity of Intention

Marshall Rosenberg, the developer of NVC, once suggested in a workshop that I attended that if we want to live NVC, the first step is to “know what you want before you open your mouth.”

I used to interpret this to mean that the first step in a communication is to know what our desired outcome is. Now I understand that rather than visualizing or imagining what I want to happen, Marshall was pointing us to a clarity of intention.  Knowing which strategy to use to contribute to a need comes later.

Now I endeavor to, keep my focus on what Marshall called “Spiritual Clarity”.

The word spiritual points towards an acknowledgment that we live interdependently.  Your needs and my needs co-exist.  If I get my needs met at your expense, we will both pay.  And the opposite is also true:  If you get your needs met at my expense, we both will pay.  How do we pay?  With disconnection, resentment, and suffering.

Clarity points to a deep and profound connection to this reality of interdependence.  

When I live from this quality of spiritual clarity, my behaviors will more likely contribute to making life wonderful for everyone involved.

Openness to Outcome

The natural consequence of Presence and Clarity of Intention is an openness to outcome.  We liberate ourselves in advance from any addiction to “one right way” to get our needs met.  By staying connected to Needs rather than becoming attached to a specific strategy, we support a  flow of connection that inevitably leads to compassionate giving and receiving.

The nickname we give to the combination of these three elemental concepts is “the Zero Step”.  The Zero Step points to what we do in our consciousness before using the four components of NVC developed by Marshall (observation, feeling need and request).  Ironically, when we live in the Zero Step, the four steps fade away into a naturally connecting language.

So, now we arrive at Marshall’s definition of the purpose of NVC:  “To create a quality of connection that inspires compassionate giving and receiving.”  And three elements help us to fulfill that purpose:

  1. Presence:  What is happening right now?  How do you feel right now?  Who needs what right now?  What would make life more wonderful right now?
  2. Clarity of Intention:  Do I want to connect in the service of compassionate giving and receiving?  Or do I want to correct?  If the latter, the antidote is empathy and self-empathy to regain contact with our Spiritual Clarity.
  3. Openness to Outcome:  We finish our expression with a request, not a demand.  We only want to receive from another what they willingly want to contribute.  If we notice we are attached to an outcome, its a signal we need empathy!

Three quick practices:

  1. Presence: Ask yourself, “Am I aware?  What do I see, hear, smell taste, or touch, right now?
  2. Clarity of Intention:  Ask yourself, “Do I want to connect or do I want to correct?”
  3. Openness to outcome:  Consider any universal human need and make a list of all the ways that need could be satisfied.  For example, consider the Need for love:  How many different ways have you had that Need satisfied in your life?  (A hug, a kind word, a gift, an act of service, spending quality time with someone, etc)**

So, from now, we live with a new awareness that can arise just before we next open our mouth.  Where are we going, connection or correction?

We can claim our natural intuition and inclination to contribute to making life wonderful by connecting.  Or we can notice, with ever increasing awareness, how our old habits of correction may still run reactively.

Each moment, we choose which destination we seek.  And the next moment, we can choose once again.

*Giraffe is the term Marshall Rosenberg used as a nickname for NVC and its practitioners.  Since giraffes have long necks, they can easily make observations.  And, an anatomical consequence of that long neck is the strongest heart of any land mammal.  It takes a lot of power to pump that life-enriching blood up to the brain of the giraffe!  Thus, NVC, or giraffe language, is also know as the language of the heart.

**See Flourish, by Martin Seligman, Ph.D.

***Inspired by Gary Chapman’s Five Love Languages

How Do You Teach Empathy?

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED JULY 30, 2005

I like Marshall Rosenberg’s definition of empathy for its simplicity and clarity.  He says, “Empathy is the respectful understanding of another person’s experience.”

We also distinguish between “empathy”, which focuses our attention and presence on what is alive in another person, and “sympathy”, which shifts the focus to our own experience in a self-reflective way.  Sympathy can actually block an experience of empathy.

One other related distinction concerns what is actually happening in our own experience when we are in empathic connection.  We are as present as possible to the experience of another person without feeling what they are feeling.  Again, feeling what another person is feeling can prevent us from experiencing the depth of empathic connection made possible by utilizing the tools and consciousness of Nonviolent Communication (NVC).  We can connect with another person’s experience without having the same experience.  For me, the experience of empathy is like “meditation off the cushion”.

This distinction may become clearer if you consider how we are defining feelings, especially about what feelings “mean” in NVC.  We define feelings as physical sensations and emotions, “guttural” feelings.  We distinguish feelings from “thoughts” or “evaluations”, which can actually block presence to our own feelings or connecting with the feelings of others.

In NVC, we see feelings as signals that give us information about the state of our needs.  To oversimplify, when our need is met, we feel a certain range of feelings (often called “positive” or “good” feelings) and when our need is not met, we feel a different range of feelings (“negative” or “bad”).  Thus, the cause of our feelings is the state of our needs, not what happens in the outside world, what we call the stimulus or observation.

We define needs in a specific way as well, as “that which is required universally to sustain or enhance life.”  We all have the same needs.  Words that point to needs tend to be vague or hazy, like “connection”, “contribution”, “learning”, or “sustenance”.  We distinguish needs from “strategies” or “satisfiers” which are concrete and specific ways of meeting a need.

One example is the need for sustenance.  Humans have invented or discovered about a million ways to meet this most basic of human needs; three strategies are a vegetarian diet, a vegan diet and an omnivorous diet.  All strategies to meet a need come with both costs and benefits, and as impermanence is the rule, no one strategy will always work to meet a need.  A person committed to a vegan diet may choose to meet their need for sustenance by consuming dairy products or meat if their pain (hunger) is great enough and their options are limited in the moment.

So, when we are training people to empathize, we are helping to clarify these distinctions, along with several more.  First we are teaching people to be aware of their own needs and what needs might be met by empathizing with another person.  We are also teaching and guiding them in certain practices designed to cultivate skills and awareness around 6 aspects of empathy:  presence (attention on the present moment and what is actually happening); focus (on the other person’s observations, feelings, needs and requests); space (creating an opportunity for the other person to explore what is important to them while letting go of our thoughts about “agenda” or “fixing”); verbal reflection (certain language patterns designed to support ourselves and others in maintaining presence, focus and space); sensory acuity to notice “shift” (indicators that another person’s needs for empathy and understanding have been met or are unmet); and finally clarifying requests (assisting the other person by empathizing with what they may want next.)

Jim Manske
Certified Trainer for The Center for Nonviolent Communication, cnvc.org
President, Network for NVC
 
 
Please check out my online newspaper:
http://www.scoop.it/t/radical-compassion

What if there’s no such thing as a perfect strategy? by Jim Manske, CNVC Trainer

What if there’s no such thing as a perfect strategy?  (Strategies are behaviors intended to contribute to fulfilling a universal human need.)

What that means to me is that no matter which strategic choice I make, some needs will be satisfied while others remain hungry. We all do the best we can to make wise choices that meet the most needs for Life at the least cost. Only the passage of time will clarify how wise our choices have been.

A year ago (in November of 2016) a few days after the US presidential election, I wrote in a Facebook post:

“We have made a choice.  There is only one Us. Right now, I feel mourning about the results of this election and the likely consequences of this choice. It’s easy to touch and taste the unmet needs mostly around safety, security and well-being for people and our planet.

As I look towards needs met, I see unbounded possibility for connection in the service of natural giving and receiving. Unending vistas for our vision, our hopes.  And, as we make our contributions each day in the service of our mission, we constantly have the opportunity to live our values, inspiring others to join us.  I wonder, how can I show my love for people and planet, right now…

The bottom line for me is that no matter who the president of the United States is, I have a purpose, vision and mission.

The person who holds the office (as all other leaders) may either support me or hinder me. That’s for them. My role is to persevere in fulfilling my purpose.”

So, now a year has passed.  It’s hard for me to keep track of the myriad events since President Trump took office.  There is a wake of unsatisfied needs following the ship of state that Mr. Trump pilots.  Never before have so many been so unsatisfied with a presidency at this point of our election cycle.

On the other hand, many people seem to have found their voice and gathered together to advocate for a way of being in our country and in our world much more in harmony with Needs consciousness.  We seem to be speaking more, sometimes shouting, other times screaming.

I don’t experience as much listening, and I feel concerned by the continuing polarization and siloing that seems apparent.  We may listen to those with whom we agree with, but I’m not sure we are listening to those we do not agree with.

How could I turn this complaint of mine into a commitment?

  1. First, notice what is.  As I look at who I hang out with, my tribe mostly looks like me, talks like me and shares many of my beliefs.
  2. Consider how to expand the circle of connection, beginning with the Needs.  I imagine if I expanded my circle, it would contribute to learning, community, self-expression and empathy, among other needs.  It may come with a cost.  I imagine the likelihood of conflict will increase.  I may feel uncomfortable.  My beliefs may be challenged.  Including other people may not contribute to ease or flow.
  3. Sitting with the needs, I open to wonder…what steps could I take that may contribute to these needs.
  4. I wait for requests to emerge, trusting that we human beings have everything we need to come up with satisfying strategies to support our survival and our thriving.  Sometimes I notice the requests arise after a good night’s sleep.  Other times, after a soak in the tub or a hot shower.  Sometimes in conversation with others, and other times, ideas arise immediately or at random moments.  Sometimes by writing, it supports my creativity as well.
  5. Once the ideas emerge, take action.  Small steps are ok, even teeny tiny ones!  It seems so important to honor our need for safety when we embark on something new and challenging.

So, now, reading this, what will you do?

The process can be used for any creative puzzle, not just the political conundrum I notice on this chilly November day, one year after an historical election.

Please let me know your responses to what I have written, especially what you harvest from trying the Complaint to Commitment process.

Nonviolence in the Face of Hatred – a blog article by Miki Kashtan

…Although this was very tender for her, she wasn’t bringing it up for empathy or sympathy. She was bringing it up because she wanted to find a way to transform her thinking about what her sister had shared with her, so she would know what to do with the violent thoughts that were populating her mind and challenging her commitment. Out of respect for her dignity and choice, I never asked for the specific nature of the thoughts.

Anita is part of a very small tribe of people who are fully committed to nonviolence: in thought, word, and deed. There are many people who are committed to nonviolence in action; far fewer are committed in word; and way fewer are committed to nonviolence in thought. Since leadership, for me, entails inspiring others by what we are able to model, if we are committed to nonviolence in thought, and we make our inner struggles known to others as Anita did that day, we act as leaders. What we are modeling is how we can support ourselves, others who have been harmed, the communities around us, and the world at large, without creating new cycles of violence.

The practice of nonviolence begins, for real, precisely when our actions, words, or thoughts are not aligning with our commitment. Because, as I finally understood recently, our capacity often lags behind our commitment. This does not mean we are not truly committed; only that we need more practice…

Read more at: The Fearless Heart: Inspiration and Tools for Creating the Future We Want. Courage to live it now. by Miki Kashtan

Check out this new Mood Tracking app created by a Yale-based Emotional Intelligence scientist

For those of you with Android or iOS devices, there is a ‘feelings’ app that can help a person assess one’s mood and associating feelings, and can be used as a tool for tracing feelings to their underlying source, in order to provide clear personalized information around one’s values and boundaries for navigating life with more ease and harmony.

http://moodmeterapp.com/

It costs $0.99, which though not free, is a pretty good deal for access to such a valuable resource, which we think this is.

Please let us know if you try it and what your experience was here.

How Nonviolent Communication Liberated One Former Inmate

“In the Nas song “Rewind,” there is a part in the beginning when he says, “the bullet goes back into the gun. ”

As a former inmate who celebrated his one-year anniversary out of prison this month, I wish I could rewind and undo every violent experience I’ve had: a prison guard stripping me naked and requesting I spread my body out so he could ensure I wasn’t being used to smuggle contraband, the officer who threw me to the ground when he arrested me,  putting his knee in the back of my neck because he thought I was a dangerous murderer with a weapon, even way back to the traumatic experience my auntie acted out against me what she could not express in words to empathetic ears.

During my one-year anniversary out of prison at a Welcome Home Ceremony organized by Freedom Project early this month, I realized that behind our pain — under our violent experiences, grief and loss — we actually find our true essence and power as human beings.”  

Read more at:

http://www.seattleglobalist.com/2016/05/16/freedom-project-seattle-nonviolent-communication/51260

Cultivating the Courage to make Authentic Requests

6/10/17
by Stephanie Weisman,
NVCnextgen Administrative Support Team Member

In my weekly NVC practice group, we’ve been dissecting the components of the “OFNR” NVC process, where ~

“O” = Observation
“F” = Feelings
“N” = Needs
“R” = Requests

During the course of this extended exploration, I’ve learned that “When we make an authentic request, we must allow ourselves to be vulnerable”, according to our facilitator, Joanna.

Some ideas for how to make clear & present requests, a way to prepare for the vulnerability of requesting:

1) Focus on a positive perspective or action instead of a negative focus:

State what you DO want, not what you DON’T want.”

2) Check your facts to make sure the request is doable,

3) Absolve the receiver from blame, if they are unable to meet your request or your needs, by understanding that:

 “Every ‘no’ is a “yes” to another scenario.”

4) Some connecting request examples, after expressing your feelings and needs non-blamingly:

a. “I’m uncertain about my ability to communicate clearly, would you be willing to tell me what you heard me say just now?”

b. “I’m curious what you heard me say?”

c. “I wonder if you would be willing to….?”

d. “Could you please….?”

**Remember that expressing feelings and needs opens up the possibility for understanding and reciprocity.