Foundations of Compassionate Communication

Transforming and Effective Communication


Empathy in Action

Language 4 Lovers

Communication at Work.

Heart of Social Change

Translate slef-judgements into self-empathySelf-Empathy: The Experience of Self-Compassion

An experiential workshop where you will learn and practice to:

    • Connect to what is alive in you

    • Translate self-judgements into self-empathy

    • Experience checking in with your own feelings and needs

Some background about Self-Empathy

Self-empathy is a term used in Nonviolent Communication (NVC), which is a process that was developed by an international peacemaker and psychologist named Marshall Rosenberg. NVC provides tools for speaking and listening in ways that foster connection and understanding. It is used for resolving conflicts large and small, from the macro level (between warring nations, tribes), to the micro level (internal conflict) and everything in-between (organizational conflict, family/couple conflict).

Empathy is a key term in NVC, and it can be translated as, "What is most alive in this moment?" or "What is the heart of the matter?"  In NVC, the focus is on feelings and needs, and a key assumption is that all humans have the same universal needs. These include connection, well-being, honesty, play, peace, meaning, and autonomy, among many others. We feel certain emotions when our needs are met, and other emotions when our needs are not met. Feelings, then, are pointers to our precious human needs.

Practicing Self-Empathy

Practicing self-empathy can be very helpful in cultivating inner peace and self-compassion. The practice of self-empathy involves being present with yourself and turning your attention inward by asking yourself four questions:

What am I observing?
What am I feeling?
What am I needing right now?
Do I have a request of myself or someone else?

Sometimes four questions feels like too much work, so an alternative is to simply ask yourself

What am I feeling?
What am I needing?

For instance, you may find yourself berating yourself for spending too much time on the internet. Next time you notice yourself beating yourself up or even subtly judging or criticizing yourself, try this instead:

1) Observation: Identify what you are doing and/or any judgments you are having about yourself for doing that.  EXAMPLE: When I notice I am telling myself that people will not understand our plan summary the way it is written. And that the translators are confused about the meaning of the document in English, and therefor do not know how to translate into their native lanaguage.

2) Feeling: Ask yourself, "What am I feeling?" EXAMPLE:  I feel confused

3) Need: Connect that feeling to a need/value/what's important to you,  and ask yourself, "What need is not met?" EXAMPLE: I have a need for understanding and for effeciency.

3a) Give yourself a moment or two to "sit with" or "feel into" the quality of that need and how important it (e.g. balance) is to you.

4) Request: After "sitting with" that need for balance, do you have any request of yourself or someone else? EXAMPLE: Am I willing to ask the group to stop translation and to delay the project while they re-write the summary in clearer language?

Isn't that a much kinder way of responding to yourself than telling yourself what a control freak you are and how you're group will never get anything accomplished?  You can take this a step further by asking yourself what needs are met by your desire for understanding (e.g. connection, community, ease). In NVC all behaviors are strategies to meet needs, so you can trace any behavior you tend to beat yourself up about to a need that you're attempting to meet.

Quotes about Self-Empathy

This process will help you direct your attention downward from the head (where the negative thinking resides), down into the heart (where the feelings reside), and into the belly (where the precious needs reside). In this way, self-empathy is another tool for helping you get out of your head and into your heart and body. 

"Hoping a situation will change keeps you at a distance from your true feelings--sadness, anger, fear. Each of these feelings is best appreciated up close. Feel them deeply, and they will cease to bother you. Hope they'll go away, and they'll bother you all day."  Gay Hendricks

"Self-compassion is approaching ourselves, our inner experience with spaciousness, with the quality of allowing which has a quality of gentleness. Instead of our usual tendency to want to get over something, to fix it, to make it go away, the path of compassion is totally different. Compassion allows." Robert Gonzales

 "Don't forget to love yourself." Soren Kierkegaard

"Healing the self means committing ourselves to a wholehearted willingness to be what and how we are--beings frail and fragile, strong and passionate, neurotic and balanced, diseased and whole, partial and complete, stingy and generous, twisted and straight, storm-tossed and quiescent, bound and free." Paula Gunn Allen

"Friendship with one's self is all important, because without it, one cannot be friends with anyone else in the world."  Eleanor Roosevelt

"Often we treat certain aspects of ourselves as junk, having no value. We try to throw parts of ourselves in the garbage. But a human being is an ecosystem, and everything in that system is of value to the whole." Stephen Schwartz

"An important aspect of self-compassion is to be able to empathically hold both parts of ourselves--the self that regrets a past action and the self that took the action in the first place." Marshall Rosenberg

"Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare."  Audre Lorde

"Radical self-care is what we've been longing for, desperate for, our entire lives--friendship with our own hearts."  Anne Lamott

"We want people to change because they see better ways of meeting their needs at less cost, not because of fear that we're going to punish them, or 'guilt' them if they don't. This applies to ourselves as well."  Marshall Rosenberg

"When hard times come, the greatest danger does not necessarily lie in the circumstances we face, but rather in the way we treat ourselves at the time. Nothing is more dangerous than self-hate. Nothing makes it more difficult to heal or to find the grace of peace than self-attack and the agony of self-doubt."  Stephen Schwartz

"The real connection we long for is the connection with ourselves; the connection with where we are here and now...When the connection with our own presence is broken everything just starts to feel empty."  Jeff Foster

"Be kind to yourself, dear - to our innocent follies. 
Forget any sounds or touch you knew that did not help you dance. 
You will come to see that all evolves us."  Rumi

"Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
Just keep going. No feeling is final."  Rainer Maria Rilke

"It's like a mother, when the baby is crying, she picks up the baby and she holds the baby tenderly in her arms. Your pain, your anxiety is your baby. You have to take care of it. You have to go back to yourself, to recognize the suffering in you, embrace the suffering, and you get a relief." Thich Nhat Hanh

"I was obsessed with being perfect and beautiful, like a porcelain doll, forgetting that the purpose of life is to live fully, not to die perfect." Kimber Simpkins

"If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete." Jack Kornfield

"You don't want to beat yourself up for beating yourself up in the vain hope that it will somehow make you stop beating yourself up. Just as hate can't conquer hate -- but only strengthens and reinforces it -- self-judgment can't stop self-judgment." Kristin Neff

"For some reason, we are truly convinced that if we criticize ourselves, the criticism will lead to change. If we are harsh, we believe we will end up being kind. If we shame ourselves, we believe we end up loving ourselves. It has never been true, not for a moment, that shame leads to love. Only love leads to love." Geneen Roth

"All any feeling wants is to be welcomed with tenderness. It wants room to unfold. It wants to relax and tell its story. It wants to dissolve like a thousand writhing snakes that with a flick of kindness become harmless strands of rope." Geneen Roth

"As you breathe in, cherish yourself. As you breathe out, cherish all beings." His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama

"Go back and take care of yourself. Your body needs you, your feelings need you, your perceptions need you. Your suffering needs you to acknowledge it. Go home and be there for all these things."  Thich Nhat Hanh

"Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It's a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity."  Pema Chödrön 

"We cannot change anything until we accept it. Condemnation does not liberate, it oppresses."  Carl Jung

be softer with you. 
you are a breathing thing.
a memory to someone.
a home to a life.
~Nayyirah Waheed

Foundations of Compassionate Communication

Transforming and Effective Communication


Empathy in Action

Language 4 Lovers

Communication at Work.

Heart of Social Change