Needy HandYears ago, I was at a weeklong yoga training with Judith Lasater. We spent our days talking ailments, anatomy, alignment and asana. We also had the option of bonus, evening training sessions in Nonviolent Communication (“NVC”). While I didn’t know much about NVC, I had heard Judith endorse it, so I signed up.

“What Are You Feeling?”

In the first session, we were handed a list of feelings and asked to recall a recent real-life conflict. I still remember the situation I used for the exercise. It was a pretty typical work problem – I was frustrated with a coworker for claiming all the credit on a project I did most of the work on.

The NVC trainer instructed us to scan the list of feelings to find the one(s) that described how we felt. All of the “angry” words resonated well with me. But, I was feeling skeptical – I could have just as easily done a shift F7 and gotten more words to describe how I was feeling without the help of this little NVC session.

Scratch a Little to the Left

Just about the time I was ready to write NVC off for good, he passed out a list of needs. He explained that NVC teaches that unmet needs are the culprit of the “negative” feelings that give rise to conflict (conversely, “positive” feelings come from the satisfaction of our basic needs). He invited us to peruse the list and determine which of these needs was not satisfied in our real-life conflict example.

I scanned the list and saw “appreciation.” Ummm, kind of, but I wasn’t this mad just because I didn’t feel appreciated. Then I saw it – “honesty!” That was it! My need for honesty was not met. It was like a deep itch had been scratched when I said those words aloud.

As I drifted off to sleep that night, I marveled at how much of my anger had dissipated. I hadn’t even talked to my coworker (though I did role play a
discussion in the workshop). I’ve been loving NVC ever since.

This week I’m remembering that simply identifying the basic need behind my feelings empowers me with clarity and focus, so I can figure out just how to get my needs met. I am also trying to hear the deep needs of those around me, even my toddler.

Have you heard of NVC before? Do you practice it? What needs – either satisfied or unsatisfied – are impacting how you are feeling today? I’m by no means an NVC expert – if you are and you’d like to weigh in, please comment below! Or, maybe you mistook the V for a Y and can’t figure out what the Big Apple has to do with needs?

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