Empathy is being present with what is for another (or yourself). It is about holding space and allowing someone else to have their own experience while you support them in their process, without any urge to “fix” their problems.
Many of our conversations consists of each person taking turns talking about themselves without really listening to and understanding the other. We tend to “one-up” each other – if one person had a hard day, then the other had a harder day. If the other had a great night out the previous night, then we had an awesome night.
Non-Violent Communication (NVC) is a great tool to be more empathetic. NVC is a way of communicating to better understand how we and others feel in the present moment.
We all have universal needs such as for physical well-being, security, connection, love, fun/play, and meaning/contribution. At different times, some needs are more active than others. With NVC we get in touch with the feelings and needs that other person is experiencing, and then we can reflect them back in a way that encourages greater clarity and a deeper connection with themselves. Much relief and letting go can occur if we can express and be heard fully by another.
A few Practices to Develop More Empathy
Practice #1: Don’t Go into Your Own Story
When talking with another person, it is inevitable that something they say will remind us of something about ourselves. Perhaps the same thing is happening to us, or someone close to us. Just acknowledge it, and return your attention to what the other is saying. If it is something important that needs to be said, it will come back in your mind at a later time.
Practice #2: Hear whether the other person’s needs are being met, or not being met
At any moment, either our needs are being met, or they are NOT being met. Generally, when our needs are being met we have “positive” feelings like excitement or feeling peaceful. When our needs are not being met we have “negative” feelings like disappointment or anxiety.
When we know whether someone’s needs are getting met or not we can be more empathetic and understanding for what is going on for them right now.
This is just a taste of the many tools NVC can provide you with, to help develop empathy and create the loving, peaceful relationships you’ve been yearning for. Join me this Wednesday for an intro to NVC course where we will have experiential practice on empathy and the basic foundation of NVC.
Wednesday February 22, 2017
7:00 – 8:30 PM
Four Pillars Ayurveda
23564 Calabasas Rd,
Calabasas, CA 91302