USING NEEDS AWARENESS TO MOVE FROM EVALUATIONS TO COMPASSION

 

Nicholas:  The first option and most often used (by me, at least) is to blame the person who is giving you the negative messages.  If someone tries to tell me I’m wrong, my first response is to think “No, they are wrong.  How dare they tell me I am wrong?”  This can cause a lot of problems and often does not lead to a good, both-parties-happy conclusion. 

 

The second option is to blame yourself, which ends up giving our self-esteem a huge kick in the gut.  It isn’t always right to assume that what someone says about us is true.  We have to remember it is just their opinion. 

 

The third option is to get a sense of your own feelings and needs.  If someone says, “You don’t spend enough time with me.  Obviously, you don’t like me anymore,” you can notice your need for time to do school work and your job, and your need for the other person to understand that.

 

The last option is to guess the feelings and needs of the person giving you the negative messages.  Your response this time might be “Are you feeling sad because we have been spending less time together and you think that means I don’t like you?  I want you to know I do like you and I enjoy spending time with you.  It is only my need to get good grades and do my job that has kept me from having the free time I once had to spend with you.” [needs = learning, trust, relaxation; strategies = good grades, getting to my job, hanging out]

 

Imagine for a moment that someone who matters to you says or does something to you that you experience as hostile.  What is your next thought?  Your next feeling?  Four common options are:

 

1.  Blame the other person

2.  Blame yourself

3.  Find compassion for yourself by listening for your feelings and unmet needs

4.  Find compassion for the other by imagining their feelings and needs

 

Once you see these four options, you may be tempted to focus on the second two options and try to jump over the first two options.  Please don’t—all four are valuable to you

 

If you have any blame of yourself or the other person, noticing this is exactly the most honest starting point in being where you are, being authentic, being fully alive, and moving toward future dialogue.  As soon as you sense an urge to blame self or other, get your mouth shut tightly. Back off and create space to work through this.  If you can get the time and space, stay with your blaming-other and blaming-self voices for a while.  Do not push yourself to get through this phase.

 

After the charge of the emotions has settled, consider your feelings and unmet needs.  As you unfreeze your judgments of yourself, and find compassion for yourself, you will likely feel the relief of being heard and accepted by yourself.  Curiosity about the feelings and needs of the other person will naturally emerge.  When you are ready to consider the other person’s needs, you will likely notice yourself becoming aware of their humanness and feeling more compassionate.  I believe that this is a more natural and sure way to reach a sense of connection than pasting on a smile and pretending to feel compassion.  Try it for yourself for awhile and see if you like the end result.  Here is an example and then a grid for you. 

 

DE-BUGGING YOUR MIND:  example from Nicholas, plus some imagined dialogue

 

Pick an action done or a statement said to you that was hard to hear or really bugged you.

 

You don’t spend enough time with me.  Obviously, you don’t like me anymore.”

 

1.  BLAME YOU 

(list judgments of other)

4.  COMPASSION FOR YOU 

(guess the feelings and needs lying under their statement or action)

 

You are so wrong. 

 

How dare you say those things to me?

 

You are so selfish.

 

Look how you spend your time.

DOWN

 

Sounds like she is sad and wanting more time.  I know how that feels.

 

And is unsure about my commitment to the relationship.  Telling herself that I don’t like her.  Wow!  That fear must be painful for her. 

 

I guess she wants a better connection with me.

 

2.  BLAME ME 

(list judgments of self)

3.  COMPASSION FOR ME 

(listen to my feelings and unmet needs)

 

Gosh, she is probably right.  I am

such an idiot.

 

I can’t believe I haven’t done better in organizing my time.

 

I’ll never make her happy.  I’m a terrible boyfriend.

 

I am such an airhead.

UP 

 

 

 

OVER

                                                                      

I am working hard to get good grades and

do my job.  It is so hard to balance everything.

 

I am bummed out because I really want the effort I have put into this relationship noticed. 

 

I am stressed hearing her say those things.  I would really like understanding. 

 

I want to hear caring words.

 

 

 

 

 

Amy:  It is important to welcome feelings, even when our feelings are negative as they are a part of being alive.  Once we learn to welcome all feelings, we can be at peace with ourselves. 

 

Just because I may have negative feelings from time to time, it doesn’t mean I am a bad person, a bad student, or even that I am a negative person.  It just means that some of my needs aren’t being met.  [I think feelings are better defined as uncomfortable rather than negative.]

 

MWARNING:  FOR YOUR EYES ONLY.  NOT to be shared with person who invited this.

 

DE-BUGGING YOUR MIND: 

 

Pick an action done or a statement said to you that was hard to hear or really bugged you.

 

 

1.  BLAME YOU 

(list judgments of other)

4.  COMPASSION FOR YOU 

(guess the feelings and needs lying under their statement or action)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DOWN

2.  BLAME ME 

(list judgments of self)

3.  COMPASSION FOR ME 

(listen to my feelings and unmet needs)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

UP 

 

 

 

 

 OVER

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Now that you have completed this exercise with your thinking, I am guessing you would find it helpful to do the exercise again, with the same or a different situation.  Slow down.  Give yourself time to really rant and rave, and then to be with the feelings and needs under them.  Doing this, people usually reach a shift of energy and some sense of peacefulness.  From that place it is a natural human reaction to become curious, concerned about the needs of the other person.  This is an exercise that I personally use any time I am feeling distressed about some interaction.