Consider for a moment the notion that all beings are motivated by needs. The way they navigate their days corresponds directly to the needs that are alive within them.
Language is a tool we can use to get our needs met. Sometimes it is an effective tool! Other times it can complicate matters! We imagine that, for you, as with us, it is not too difficult to think of times when words got us into trouble, or were harmful to another. In the words of Marshall Rosenberg, PhD, who formalized the steps of Non-Violent Communication, “We can make life miserable or wonderful for ourselves and others depending upon how we think and communicate.”
This week, we’ll gain a familiarity with the notions as feelings and needs, and how coming to know them and how they live within us can enhance our experiences and our understanding of both ourselves and others.
The practice here is to come to see feelings as neither good nor bad, but rather as sources of information that inform us about ourselves, the states we are in, and what it is in us that those feelings are meant to communicate. What do feelings communicate? Well, needs of course!
When feeling are a little uncomfortable, difficult to be with, or even very unpleasant, they likely point to a need that is unmet. Alternatively, those feelings that we have that are easier to be with are often clues that needs have been met.
One way to practice awareness is to spend conscious time exploring the relationship between feelings and needs, and noticing how feelings and needs emerge within you.
Feeling out a Feeling
For this activity, you’ll first want to select a feeling to focus upon. You might select one that you are feeling right now, one from the Center for Nonviolent Communication’s Feelings Inventory, or even let the wheel decide: Feelings Wheel.
Once you have a feeling to explore, explore the following questions as a means of getting to know this feeling better:
- What is your relationship to this feeling? Do you feel it regularly?
- What are some contexts wherein you might discover you are feeling this emotion?
- How do you know this feeling is alive within you? What sensations or habits might you associate with it?
- Do you consider this feeling a pleasant sensation? Or is it more challenging to be with? What factors shape how you experience it?
- How does this feeling impact your day, your work, and your relationships?
Feel free to repeat this reflective exercise for multiple feelings as you have time and interest. Consider exploring competing, seemingly contradictory feelings that emerge within you at the same time, if that’s applicable.
Seven Steps to Strategy
For this activity you will be invited to use either a set of documents provided by the Center for Nonviolent Communication (linked below) or a set of GROK! cards.
GROK! cards can be checked out from the ACCP in CM 332 on the Annandale Campus. Select campus and location representatives also may have sets for you to check out, please check with your representative to see if theirs have arrived!
Step 1: What feeling is most alive in you right now? Select one feeling word from the GROK! Feelings Deck or the Feelings Inventory.
Step 2: What has happened or is happening in you that has brought the feeling in Step 1 to the forefront for you. Select needs from GROK! Needs Deck or the Needs Inventory to help you describe what’s contributing to your feeling.
Step 3: What feelings do you currently associate with the word you selected in Step 1? Select as many feeling cards or words as desired.
Step 4: Look back at the feelings observed in Step 3. What needs do you associate with those feelings specifically? Select as many needs as apply.
Step 5: If all the needs in Step 4 were met, what need in you would that meet? Don’t over think it. Select just one need card or word.
Step 6: What strategies do you currently practice to help you meet this need? Select one strategy that feels like it would nurture or bring life to you.
Step 7: How would your experience of the need in Step 6 or the feeling in Step 3 be impacted by making this strategy a priority this week?
Seeing the Wins and the Pain Points
For this activity, you’ll be invited to focus on the feelings that are most alive within your work-context. Once again, you may use either the Feelings Inventor and Needs Inventory the Center for Nonviolent Communication (linked below) or a set of GROK! cards (see the note in the exercise above about accessing these).
Step 1: Select four feelings words/cards that describe emotions that are alive in you when you consider your work that you would describe as difficult to be with and/or unpleasant.
Step 2: Select four feelings words/cards that describe emotions that are alive in you when you consider your work that you would describe as easy to be with and/or pleasant.
Step 3: Reflect on the four feelings words/cards you identified as difficult to be with and/or unpleasant. Review and select needs that might be alive within your workscape to contribute to these more challenging emotions.
Step 4: Reflect on the four feelings words/cards you identified as easy to be with and/or pleasant. Review and select needs that might be met within your workplace to contribute to these feelings.
Step 5: Try to summarize the relationship between the met needs and the more welcome feelings. Try to be brief and specific with your discussion.
Step 6: Without using language that points toward judgement, diagnosis or blame, try to summarize the relationship between the unmet needs and the more challenging feelings. Try to be brief and specific with your discussion.
Step 7: Reflect on Steps 1-6. What is one concrete thing you could ask for that would help you navigate an unmet need you’ve explored?