Who Says Nothing Is Personal? (Nonviolent Communication)


You are a beautiful expression of divine creativity showing up in only the way you can. Why would you want to give your power away by thinking someone has the power to make you feel any certain way? When you yield to your inherent essence, you open to the prosperity that is waiting to be felt as you. Don’t give away your choice to be happy by trapping yourself in scarcity. And don’t take that choice and power away from anyone else by feeling you are responsible for their needs.

Understanding your needs is fundamental to taking full responsibility for your own happiness. Some examples of needs are trust, clarity, choice, purpose, safety, love, play, celebration, and balance. For example, “I need to trust” or, “I need to feel safe.” A need makes no reference to any specific person doing any specific thing. Need is not a strategy to control another but more of a self-awareness.

Many judge their needs as weak, are unable to hear what they need, or take on other people’s needs as their own. Taking on the needs of others may come from childhood, where meeting parental needs was the only way to feel connected or gain approval. Judging needs as weak and pushing past the inner guidance system can also be a childhood survival tactic, or even a badge of strength in the perceived war of life. And those people that are highly empathetic may have a spiritual and neurological difficulty in discerning their own needs and emotions.

According to Marshall Rosenberg of Nonviolent Communication (NVC), “We confuse someone communicating their needs to be a demand rather than a request.” If you hear someone’s feelings and needs as a demand, you will defend your position and feel burdened by their communication. But, hearing another’s needs does not mean you give up your own…and if you hear the other person’s feelings and needs as a request, you are able to empathize. As a result, the other person will feel heard. If two people can communicate what they are needing without either person hearing it as a demand or criticism, something magical occurs. When both people feel heard, the solution appears. Many of us have not been taught this level of conscious communication and try to jump to the solution before the healing empathic connection is allowed.

Empathy is the root of compassion. It allows you to step out of your isolated self and feel connected to another. But if you don’t know that the other’s needs are a request or that your needs are important, you will be unable to offer compassion to others.

Have you ever known someone who has lost themselves in a relationship? They wake up one day and wonder, “Where did I go?” Many of us have not been taught the skills to maintain our individuated self and be fully merged in partnership. We believe we either have love or we have freedom and the two most certainly cannot go together! Many lose their ability to stay in tune with their heart’s needs in relationship because they have been taught a love that denies their True Self. This betrayal of self then gets projected on the partner in statements such as, “I would only be happy if he…” or, “If I don’t do what she wants I will endure her wrath!”

Many couples I spiritually counsel feel burdened by their partner. Either their needs are not communicated or there is a competition of whose needs are more relevant. For NVC to work, you must choose love verses being right. You are not responsible for another person’s happiness; it is a choice they must make. If you take that on as your responsibility you are taking their power to be happy. Empathizing with another and not feeling responsible for their happiness, while remaining grounded in your own self-worth, leads to true intimacy and connection.

I used to base my self-worth on whether I met everyone’s needs. The guilt I felt when someone was upset with me for not meeting their need led me to be defensive and unsympathetic. But I can still be lovable and loved even if I don’t meet the needs of others. Although it is still a continual practice today, I am able to hear the need behind irritation or criticism. This compassion allows me to stay rooted in Love and not take what the other person is saying personally. It amazes me how NVC creates an energetic force field of love and allows each person to feel supported. Compassion is true power.

When you hear the need behind anger, you never feel criticized. Also from Rosenberg, “Anger is an unskillful way of communicating ones needs.” We are each responsible for our happiness. Nothing is ever personal.

“The law of love will work, just as the law of gravitation will work, whether we accept it or not…a man who applies the law of love with scientific precision can work great wonders…”

Mahatma Gandhi

What you focus on, negative or positive, is what you will draw into your life. But trying to be positive all the time will trap you in a lesser form of hell. To move beyond the suffering of duality (positive/negative) requires you to connect to that which does not change. Having personal experiences of love and the divine is essential to not feeling you must convince another to be safe. Your spiritual practices are an important foundation to the psychological process of healthy communication.

Inner work releases you from the bondage of trying to prove to another your needs are important. Look within.
Otherwise you will draw to yourself greater conflict, blame others for your unhappiness, fight to get your needs met, and feel unsafe in the world.

Every day I learn more about the immense power of NVC and I am excited to present this material in May’s retreat. (Please also look into Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life by Marshall Rosenberg for more information.) You are worth the inner work and it is my hope that you realize the wealth, love, and power you have already been given.


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