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Self Empathy Exercise - Mourning Unmet Needs

This exercise is to help with self empathy. Self empathy is getting in touch with our feelings and needs. The Nonviolent Communication method for self empathy is to start with a neutral observation. If you would like to learn about and practice making neutral observations follow the link. The next place to focus your attention is on your feelings. In the table below I have put some the feelings from the cnvc.org unmet needs list. I did it this way so you would be picking from a list of emotions and not put your thoughts in, in place of the emotions. For more information got to feelings. The next phase is not part of the formal NVC process but I use it and I find it helpful. This is to identify the thoughts behind the emotion. How we are thinking about the observation determines the emotion we experience. Typically when I feel anger I am judging that there is something wrong with the person from the observation.

The next place to focus attention on is the needs. From the general feeling I have created a list of suggested needs for that group of emotions. Look over the list and see if anything resonates for you. There may be several that strike a chord. Try to narrow it down to the one or two that are strongest. If none on the list of suggested needs work, go to the list of needs at the bottom of the page to find one that fits for you. For mourning, remember back to what needs you were trying to meet when you had the observation that stimulated the emotion. Take some time to focus on the energy of the needs and how it feels in your body when those needs are met. Take a little time to sit with this feel and don't rush through this step.

Now we get to where the rubber meets the road. I find making requests to be very challenging. In our culture we are taught to focus on what we don't want. If you have ever been on the receiving end of constructive criticism, I think you understand. So for this part we need to come up with a positive action request. We need to decide who we want to make the request of, myself or someone else. Requests of yourself is a good place to start. After looking at how your behavior could change then see if you still want the other person to contribute to meeting your needs.

Now check in with yourself and see if you are ready to empathize with the other party. If you feel calm and centered go on to empathy. If you still feel some tension, use what you are feeling (as in body sensations) or thinking now as a new observation and start over. Think about what the other person has done. If you were doing that behavior what would you be feeling? What would be the need that is stimulating that behavior? If you have trouble with the need use the feelings and suggested needs from the left side of this chart.

Moods
Observation Feeling Justification Thoughts My Needs Requests Of Myself

Others
Other's Feelings? Other's Needs?

Select general feeling first, then specific feeling


Suggested Needs:

My need(s)

Mourning: What need(s) was I trying to meet?

Only do empathy (other's needs) after you feel very connected to your own needs.


Do any new requests arise after being aware of the other's needs?

arrows
Listen to deepening the needs meditation.

 Deepening Needs Meditation

Making Neutral Observations Identifying Feelings Thoughts vs Feelings Identifying Needs Making Requests Empathy (Feelings) Empathy (Needs)
Examples
Observation Feeling Justification Thoughts My Needs Requests Of Myself

Others
Other's Feelings? Other's Needs?
  1. We moved and there were lots of boxes of book in living room.
  2. I put some of partner's books away.
  3. She said You are not organizing them and they need to be redone.
frustrated
  1. I just want the living room to look decent.
  2. Nothing will get done unless I do something.
  3. I might get some complaints but at least it will look better.
Support, acknowledgment, order

Mourning (tried to meet)
order, beauty
Self: Would you wait until she is ready or put boxes out of the way?
Other: Would you tell me how you feel about me putting your books on shelves as long as I help re-arrange them?
frustrated
(same as me )
order, ease, consideration, awareness
Stepsons are having 4 friends over for B-day party.
I see a stepson throwing dirt at boys in the fort.
I see the boys in the fort spitting at stepson.
He is also hobbling around without his crutches
exasperated
  1. They should be able to play without fighting
  2. Stepson can ruin anything.
Respect, consideration, safety, harmony Self: Stay in NVC consciousness when dealing with boys.
Others: I am challenged here as I want to tell them what not to do (spitting & throwing)
I am going to start over at observation and connect with what I want (needs) instead of what I don't want
anger Understanding
outraged Why would anyone spit on another human being? Respect, compassion, health, inclusion Self: Find out what is going on before jumping to conclusions
Others: Would you be willing to explore ways of expressing yourself that don't involve spitting?
disgust (spitters)

anger (dirt thrower)
self-expression
disappointment He can't seem to keep friends learning, nurturing Self: Be willing to let him make his own mistakes
Others: Would you be willing to talk about how your behavior is seen by others?
lonely acceptance, belonging
confusion How do I get it through his head that if he wants friends he should be a friend contribution, learning, competence Self: Be willing to listen to stepson/other boys with empathy.

Others: Would you be willing to sit in a group and tell me what is going on for you?
vulnerable, hurt safety
Notes: This situation was resolved by sitting in a circle and giving all the boys a chance to express what was going on for them without interruptions or cross-talk and I acknowledged their feelings and needs. What was needed was a chance to express and be heard.
Observation Feeling Justification Thoughts My Needs Requests Of Myself

others
Other's Feelings? Other's Needs?
  1. Meeting scheduled for 2:00
  2. Terry shows up at 2:07
  3. At the last meeting our supervisor said I request the next meeting start on time. Does anyone object to this?
  4. No objections were voiced
  5. I'm having a hard time remembering Terry showing up on time to a meeting
annoyed, frustrated Terry is wasting everyone's time effective use of time, consideration, respect, support, ease, choice Be open to what is going on for Terry, demonstrate by listening without judgments or giving advice.
Terry, would you be willing to tell me what is going on for you so you came to the meeting at 2:07?
embarrassed, stressed understanding, compassion


Moods

Feelings Lists

Needs Not Met

AFRAID
apprehensive
dread
foreboding
frightened
mistrustful
panicked
petrified
scared
suspicious
terrified
wary
worried
ANNOYED
aggravated
dismayed
disgruntled
displeased
exasperated
frustrated
impatient
irritated
irked
ANGRY
enraged
furious
incensed
indignant
irate
livid
outraged
resentful
AVERSION
animosity
appalled
contempt
disgusted
dislike
hate
horrified
hostile
repulsed
CONFUSED
ambivalent
baffled
bewildered
dazed
hesitant
lost
mystified
perplexed
puzzled
torn
DISCONNECTED
alienated
aloof
apathetic
bored
cold
detached
distant
distracted
indifferent
numb
removed
uninterested
withdrawn
DISQUIET
agitated
alarmed
discombobulated
disconcerted
disturbed
perturbed
rattled
restless
shocked
startled
surprised
troubled
turbulent
turmoil
uncomfortable
uneasy
unnerved
unsettled
upset
EMBARRASSED
ashamed
chagrined
flustered
guilty
mortified
self-conscious
FATIGUE
beat
burnt out
depleted
exhausted
lethargic
listless
sleepy
tired
weary
worn out
PAIN
agony
anguished
bereaved
devastated
grief
heartbroken
hurt
lonely
miserable
regretful
remorseful
SAD
depressed
dejected
despair
despondent
disappointed
discouraged
disheartened
forlorn
gloomy
heavy hearted
hopeless
melancholy
unhappy
wretched
TENSE
anxious
cranky
distressed
distraught
edgy
fidgety
frazzled
irritable
jittery
nervous
overwhelmed
restless
stressed out
VULNERABLE
fragile
guarded
helpless
insecure
leery
reserved
sensitive
shaky
YEARNING
envious
jealous
longing
nostalgic
pining
wistful

Needs Met

AFFECTIONATE
compassionate
friendly
loving
open hearted
sympathetic
tender
warm
ENGAGED
absorbed
alert
curious
engrossed
enchanted
entranced
fascinated
interested
intrigued
involved
spellbound
stimulated
HOPEFUL
expectant
encouraged
optimistic
CONFIDENT
empowered
open
proud
safe
secure
EXCITED
amazed
animated
ardent
aroused
astonished
dazzled
eager
energetic
enthusiastic
giddy
invigorated
lively
passionate
surprised
vibrant
GRATEFUL
appreciative
moved
thankful
touched
INSPIRED
amazed
awed
wonder
JOYFUL
amused
delighted
glad
happy
jubilant
pleased
tickled
EXHILARATED
blissful
ecstatic
elated
enthralled
exuberant
radiant
rapturous
thrilled
PEACEFUL
calm
clear headed
comfortable
centered
content
equanimous
fulfilled
mellow
quiet
relaxed
relieved
satisfied
serene
still
tranquil
trusting
REFRESHED
enlivened
rejuvenated
renewed
rested
restored
revived

Needs list

CONNECTION
acceptance
affection
appreciation
belonging
cooperation
communication
closeness
community
companionship
compassion
consideration
consistency
empathy
inclusion
intimacy
love
mutuality
nurturing
respect/self-respect
CONNECTION continued
safety
security
stability
support
to know and be known
to see and be seen
to understand and
be understood
trust
warmth

PHYSICAL WELL-BEING
air
food
movement/exercise
rest/sleep
sexual expression
safety
shelter
touch
water
HONESTY
authenticity
integrity
presence

PLAY
joy
humor

PEACE
beauty
communion
ease
equality
harmony
inspiration
order

AUTONOMY
choice
freedom
independence
space
spontaneity
MEANING
awareness
celebration of life
challenge
clarity
competence
consciousness
contribution
creativity
discovery
efficacy
effectiveness
growth
hope
learning
mourning
participation
purpose
self-expression
stimulation
to matter
understanding

Feelings and Needs List from the Center for Nonviolent Communication
(c) 2005 by Center for Nonviolent Communication
Website: www.cnvc.org Email: cnvc@cnvc.org
Phone: +1.505-244-4041

© 2012-2017 Jeff Tretsven