When we're wanting to change how we communicate and we're learning Nonviolent Communication we often focus on trying to apply the language and the consciousness of compassion during the most difficult situations - conflict with our loved ones. One of the most helpful things I was told while trying to integrate nonviolence into my life was how important Empathy for Joy was. What does this mean?
Empathy for Joy is noticing when Needs are met - when we're connected to what we value. Notice when you have connection, when you feel reassured, when you feel included and have a sense of belonging. Notice when you feel love, peacefulness, calm, excitement and ask yourself "What Needs of mine am I connected to?" or "What Needs are met right now?" Name them - "Ahhh, Connection, Belonging, Hope, Reassurance, Fun & Play."
Recently, a Meditation group I'm part of that meets monthly began studying Rick Hanson's book Hardwiring Happiness (which I highly recommend). AND you can watch him on You tube for some quickie ways to actually balance out what he calls our brain's Negativity Bias. In short, this isn't about making more happy things happen by getting that special job, or having everyone in your life be perfectly ok in any moment, or about having a certain someone, or car or vacation. It's about NOTICING when Needs are met and letting it sink in. His process is called HEAL.
Have a "good" experience - meaning notice when your Needs are met.
Enhance it - Take a few moments to name the Need met, and feel it in your body, notice what it's like to have this need met. Pause, take it in.
Absorb it - Even saying the Need and relishing how important this need is, visualize it filling your body up. You can do this for 30 seconds and it has an effect.
Link - This part is optional. Link the good experience (Needs met) to a time when you didn't have Needs met. He says to have caution for this part to have support if it's a big trauma or trigger. Start small, if you're feeling inclusion link this to a memory you have of being at a party and for a moment having no one to talk and feeling a bit awkward, longing for acceptance.
For years I've had a practice as I get ready for bed and settle in for the night, I name 3 Needs of mine that were met that day. I often drift off to sleep while naming many, many Needs met. And now I've learned that this and other Empathy for Joy practices are actually hardwiring my brain for Happiness. Balancing out my brain (and everyone else's) bias for what is wrong. We now have the science behind the importance of Empathy for Joy and the power of Empathy. It may even make it more possible to have empathy when Needs aren't met because as Rick Hanson says, we fill our bucket up drop by drop. So put a drop in the bucket today! And give empathy for Joy to others! When they are excited, happy, joyful, or peaceful guess what Needs of theirs are met - "Wow, you look really excited about the meeting. Do you have a sense of contributing and being seen for your expertise?" or "Sounds like you're really grateful that you have a such friendship in your life?"
For this week - try 3 times a day, pausing and noticing Needs met and then trying the HEAL process for 30 seconds, notice how you feel. Or just notice the Needs that are met and notice how you feel in your body and what the state of your heart is. Notice when others have their Needs met.
Let me know how your week goes! Please put comments on facebook! (It inspires others).
IF YOU WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT WHAT Universal Needs are - click the link above that says More and choose Resources. At the bottom of the page is a list of Universal Needs that Marshall Rosenberg created as a core part of Nonviolent Communication. Universal Needs means that it is a value that everyone wants to be able to thrive. Everything we say and do is to meet or connect with a value or Universal Need, therefore having awareness of Needs, or a Needs consciousness, increases our ability to be aware and clear about what it is we value that is up for us in any moment. When we clarify what is important to us, we move toward it - it is on our radar. And when we notice when Needs are met we are more likely to continue to do the thing that contributed to our Needs being met. It helps us have compassion and self-responsibility for ourselves. Needs awareness also helps us have compassion for others - we are able to see them as human again. We need more of this in our lives.
IF YOU WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THIS POWERFUL STUFF look at the classes I have coming up and come! Or look at the books I list under Resources and start reading today!
Marcia has been studying and practicing Nonviolent Communication since 2005. She has experienced immense joy & gratitude while learning this consciousness. This blog reflects some of that learning.