NVC Question #1


“Mommy is disappointed when you don’t finish your food.” is changed to “Mommy feels disappointed when you don’t finish your food, because I want you to grow up strong and healthy.” Why?


So the basic NVC model is observations, feelings, needs, and requests. And when you’re doing NVC for real, not just saying the words, you’re actually breaking it down that way in your head. The central mistake we make when we’re upset with other people is believing–on some level–that they control our emotions. Or maybe a fair thing to say is that we “anticipate as if” the other person causes our feelings. So even I might say out loud, “I know this isn’t your fault–this is just what I’m feeling”, the sorts of things that pop into my mind as possible solutions revolve around the other person. For me, the easiest way to mess up NVC when using it expressively is to give only nominal attention to my need component of the equation. And in my case I think it’s because thinking about something as a need of mine, instead of something I deserve, or a shitty way that someone else is acting, feels much more vulnerable. Partly because it primes my mind to think of things I could do differently to fix the problem, and that implies thinking for myself and I become aware that I likely won’t get it perfect right away. So I start to try to make excuses that lead me back in the direction of how really the other person or the circumstance “should just change”…

The mother who says, “Mommy is disappointed when you don’t finish your food.” is saying words about her feelings, but she’s clearly focused on what her kid could do to fix the problem. As NVC says, what you’re requesting is just your strategy, not your fundamental need. And whether you voice the need behind the strategy makes a huge difference as far as which possibilities are primed to pop into your mind. So if the mother says “because I want you to grow up strong and healthy” and the kid doesn’t do what she wants she’s going to respond more from a mindset of wanting the kid to be healthy than from wanting the kid to eat his food. And that’s way more conducive to creative problem-solving.

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