At the core of NVC practice is a basic principle: that we are far better served by focusing on what we want to generate or create than focusing on what’s negative, not “right,” or “wrong.” Each step of the NVC process leads us in this direction: observing what we’re experiencing (that we wish to change), our visceral response (feelings/sensations), what we are wanting to experience on a core level (our needs), and then a way to positively and constructively act on those needs. If you reflect on this, all of life organically works in this way—like plants growing towards the sun.
Because NVC is about generating what we want to experience, once we identify our needs, it is especially helpful to imagine those needs as met. This is a way to connect with the felt sense or lived experience of those needs on a somatic level (what some trainers refer to as connecting with the “beauty” of the need). By imagining the need as met—and connecting with the energy of that need as fully lived (perhaps remembering a time when it was met), we often can often shift any internal imbalance or upset, and return to stasis, choice, and equilibrium. This is key in the practice of self-empathy: fully connecting with the energy of the need(s) as met.
What’s fascinating to me is that, in effect, our bodies do not know the difference between the need met or it simply imagined or remembered as met. And once we have tasted of that sweet fruit–what we’re most longing for in the moment–the strategies (requests) blossom out of that organically. We are inspired, propelled forward, by moving towards what we want to experience, what we want to generate in life.
Often when working with coaching clients and/or participants in practice groups or classes, the energetic expression of the needs comes as an image or metaphor. This can be especially helpful to ground changes that you are wanting to make in your life. Recently I was working with a coaching client who was wanting to experience more empowerment in how she relates to others, and to hold her own needs with care. I asked her: what would that look like, as an image or metaphor. I found very compelling what came to her: a super hero! This superhero, large and muscular, is the image of grounded strength. I asked her to imagine herself as this superhero. When she did, and practiced having the conversation she wanted to have, it completely transformed. It was not even necessary to focus on the four steps or formal NVC—by fully connecting, through her “amulet”–her metaphor/image to the ground the needs she wants to act from—her stance and behavior changed.
Here’s an exercise you can try:
1. Think of a situation you’re finding challenging. Notice what you’re feeling/sensing and what need(s) you are wanting to meet.
2. Take a moment to fully imagine the needs as met. Or reflect back on a time when those needs were met. Notice what goes on in your body and how your somatic experience/sensations shift in connecting with the needs as met.
3. Once fully connected with the energy, check in with yourself and see what image or metaphor expresses the need and how you experience it energetically –as met and on an energetic/feeling level.
4. Connected with that image, what next step do you want to take or what would you say in the conversation?
Let me know how you found this helpful and if you have any questions!
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