What is NVC?

NVC is an established training in a simple method of communication, founded by Marshall Rosenberg, PhD and practiced worldwide, that focuses on the inner practice of emotional awareness. It does this by teaching you how to discriminate between unconscious and habitual reactions, on one hand, and conscious responses that build connections.

The core teaching of NVC is learning how to become aware of repressed or private feelings and their relation to unmet needs. For example, when met with a difficult situation one’s default may be to react with defensive postures called up from one’s unconscious and conditioned “program,” the beliefs, attitudes and behaviors planted in your childhood psyche to help deal with painful or traumatic situations. The physicist, David Bohm, said that “feelings are reflections or our program” that is imprinted deep inside. Thus, your reactions are often the cause of disconnection, pain, anxiety and conflict. But this is the exact moment and opportunity when one can learn, by opening your mind and heart, the secret of happiness, peace and connection, in short, the well-being of relational sanity. Simple, yes, but not easy.

For example, have you ever noticed that after one of your defensive reactions, you reflected and thought, “Geez, there I go again. I wish I could have responded more consciously.” Well, that’s where NVC comes in. It is a practice of inner reflection.

One reason we do not have a natural pallet of emotional awareness to help us craft sane responses is due to this more or less heavy burden of shame we have been carrying hidden since childhood, shame which needs to be exposed to generate adequate emotional awareness, healing and relational wellness. Instead of connecting with your open mind and heart, our reactions are characterized popularly as the escape mechanisms of fight, flight or freeze.

As Gabor Mate, MD has succinctly pointed out, “That which was a survival coping mechanism in childhood becomes, in adulthood, an illness.” Our emotional wounds, in other words, live on and impact our behavior until we are ready to courageously face their painful message. NVC combined with Buddhist meditation are important and useful tools to help navigate this transformational terrain.

*You can read a more detailed account of the inner workings of Nonviolent Communication here: Making Life Wonderful.

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