I want to hear others through the lens of the meaning their actions have for them rather than through the effect their actions have on me. The very root of empathy resides in this fundamental shift. Whenever someone’s actions are at odds with our own needs, most of us, most of the time, do the latter. In that way, we keep our attention on ourselves rather than on the other person. We cannot be in empathy when we are focused on how things affect us. Miki Kashtan poignantly shares about the challenges of empathizing with another when we really don't understand their actions.
The Freedom of Committing to a Path
5 - 8 minutes
In June, 1996, I had an epiphany. In a motel room in Indiana, the night before returning home from a solo camping trip in Michigan and Canada, I discovered how much I had lost in my life because of so fiercely protecting myself. Up until that day, bringing forth my vulnerable self was to be avoided at all costs, which kept me numb much of the time, disconnected from myself and from much of life. Alone in my room, I cried, I talked out loud, and I finally exclaimed to myself that I wanted to reclaim every last bit of my vulnerability, just like I had it as a child.
How To Find Your Center Instead of Defending
5 - 8 minutes
Notice when you start to defend. Is your body tensing up? Feeling desperate for the other to understand you or your intentions? Find yourself explaining your behavior, giving all the good reasons why you did what you did? Trying to convince the other of your good intentions? If so, ask yourself: “Is this what I want to be doing right now? Is this really helping?” then practice one of these eight options.
1 - 2 minutes
Trainer Tip: Acknowledge that the person’s life has been affected by your actions and enjoy the feeling of warmth you have when you contribute to a life. Try verbally acknowledging how you feel when you hear that you have enhanced her life.
Empathy Doesn’t Mean Agreement
1 - 2 minutes
Trainer tip: Empathy is about being present to a person’s feelings and needs. It is acknowledging another’s experience, not necessarily agreeing with it. If you have a different opinion than another, empathize with her first. Then, state your feelings and needs with regard to the situation.
Communicating Our Deepest Desires
Trainer Tip: When we "protect" ourselves by not asking for what we want, we block ourselves from getting our needs met. From here, disappointment and resentment can build -- especially if this is a pattern. Instead, notice when you're tempted to do this, and be honest and upfront about what you want to improve the quality of your relationships.
Mary Mackenzie, an internationally renowned CNVC Certified Trainer, demonstrates two exercises that will help you learn fast “on the run” self-empathy techniques. The video includes practical techniques to guide you toward noticing your physical sensations, feelings and needs.
Don't Take It Personally
10 - 15 minutes
When we don't like what someone is saying to us, sometimes people encourage us to hear their needs, and "not take it personally" -- and we're inclined to agree. Could "not taking it personally" close our hearts and awareness to others, life and ourselves? Rachelle Lamb invites us to take a closer look at what it's like when we attend to the situation from our hearts, and skillfully reflect upon our actions with tenderness.
Abusive Relationships and Nonviolence
8 - 12 minutes
In order to bring in more nonviolence into the world, we need to take our own needs seriously and recognize that no amount of seeing someone’s innocence would mean putting up with more of their harmful behavior. We need to disentangle compassion towards another from the willingness to tolerate more harmful actions. At times this means finding enough self-love, support, or clarity, to take decisive action. Read on for more.
Nothing but the Facts
1 - 2 minutes
Trainer Tip: There's often a large gap between what we experience, and the story we make up about it. Noticing how our judgments and assumptions cloud our observations can be critical to creating a connection with others and maintaining a Nonviolent Communication consciousness.