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Filling Your Emotional Tank
By Jessica Dancingheart (Boulder County Kids, Spring 2008)


You’ve had a long day at work. You pick your children up from day care or school and they’re cranky and tired. You’re ready for some down time and the thought of having to do one more thing for someone else feels overwhelming. Your kids begin to ask things of you and don’t listen to what you have to say or what you want. Your partner is preoccupied with a project. Keep reading this article >>

Four Surefire Ways to Ruin a Relationship
By Rachelle Lamb


For years I have been speaking and writing about how our communication can greatly enhance our relationships and life experiences. For something completely different, I thought I’d offer readers some surefire ways to effectively ruin relationships. Keep reading this article >>


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"The first step in healing is to focus on what's alive now, not what happened in the past."

Marshall Rosenberg, Ph.D.

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An Inspiring Video
You'll Never Forget

World-renowned author, peacemaker, and conflict resolution expert, Marshall Rosenberg, Ph.D. talks about the keys to prevent all forms of conflict and violence in this 10-minute video.


Emotional Tank, continued

Like a car running out of coolant as its temperature rises and steam billows out, your frustration level goes up and up. What can you do to have more peace and connection in this moment?

There is some good news.  There are tools to help you transform your frustration and anger.  They are simple.  They help you develop a consciousness and awareness around needs. 

Everyone is born with “needs consciousness,” an innate connection to our basic human needs. But through the process of acculturation to social morals and the learning of static languages, the needs consciousness goes away.

Instead of having the communication an infant has of that special whimper that says, “I’m hungry, can you give me some food?” static language leads to a judgment of a situation. Your expression of the need becomes distorted to justification, case-building, judgment, demand, diagnosis, or denial. The need for food becomes tragically distorted into something like, “You’re so selfish, can’t you see I am hungry? Get me the food!”

Just as we can translate our needs into life-alienating language, they can be translated back through a process like Nonviolent Communication (NVC).

NVC involves only four components that while simple, can be difficult to apply right away. Using them is like learning a new language. The first component involves identifying what is going on — making a clear observation of the situation you’re reacting to..

To apply this, pretend you are a camera looking in on the situation. You have arrived home and there are dishes in the sink from breakfast. There is laundry on the floor of the bedroom. The answering machine is blinking, indicating that you have

A judgment of this scene might be, “this house is a total wreck.” Yet when you connect with the actual facts — the clear and objective observation of the scene — you’re more equipped to handle the situation from a space of compassion, fairness, and connection to those around you. And, likely you’ll see the scene in a different way. You might find there are rooms that offer you the level of order you like. You might notice what you see is not as much of a wreck as you might have evaluated.

The next component of NVC is to identify how you are feeling. In the scene just described, you might be feeling overwhelmed, scattered or tired. The identification of the feeling is useful as it alerts you to what you need.

The next component is identifying what you need. You might need some help, order, rest, solitude, support, connection, and/or understanding for what you are feeling.

The final component is to make a request that is positive, doable in the present that is likely to meet your need(s). Given the facts of your objective observation, what you feel in response, and the needs you connect to, you can more easily formulate a request that would fulfill your needs.

Your request might be an action step you take on your own, or something you would like from another person. Either way the options for your request are limited only by your creativity.

In this case, if you need connection and understanding, you might ask your partner to listen to you and reflect back what he/she heard. Or you might ask yourself to take 10 minutes to sit down, relax and connect with what is going on for you.. If you need order or support, you might ask yourself, where can I go now in my home to have some order? Or who can I call for help and support? Or you might ask yourself to pick up the laundry and move it to the laundry room, and to put the dishes in the dishwasher so you can have the order you crave.

Once you have used the four components to connect to yourself, and have noticed an internal shift in where you are focusing your attention or energy, you will likely find yourself in a place of fullness. Your emotional tank gets filled.

From this place, it also becomes easier to connect to what is going on in your child, your partner, your friends, your colleagues. Nine times out of ten, the needs you have are the same as the needs presenting themselves in others around you. When you connect at the needs level, you can trust that you are seen and valued. You also realize that valuing can come from anybody. And, peace and cooperation are an inevitable outcome.

To download a list of needs visit: www.cnvc.org/needs.htm
To download a list of feelings visit: www.cnvc.org/feelings.htm

Jessica Dancingheart is a mother, peace activist and communication coach. She empowers individuals and communities with tools for reaching deep understanding and transcending limiting beliefs. She especially loves to see the light bulb spark when from that place of understanding and freedom, creative energy flows that opens possibilities for people giving and being received in what gives them most excitement and gratification as they serve themselves and others from a place of fullness. For more information visit www.OpeningToPossibilities.com, email Jessica@OpeningToPossibilities.com, or call (303) 589-8420.

Keep learning these vital communication skills with these books and training resources:




"Nine times out of ten, the needs you have are the same as the needs presenting themselves in others around you."

- Jessica Dancingheart



Four Sure Ways, continued

That’s right . . . ruin relationships! We could also call it the Thomas Edison approach . . . a few tips on how not to go about “lighting” up the faces of those you love. For those who might be curious, here are some all time favorites.

1. Blame and criticize.
This probably tops them all! Nothing compares to a good dose of blame and criticism.

Be sure to include denigrating labels as well. Let me provide you with a few winning examples . . . call your spouse “uncaring and insensitive”, your teen “ungrateful”, your boss “incompetent”, your sister “manipulative”, the government “irresponsible”.

There are so many I could fill a volume. Believe me – these work!!! Faster than your neo-cortex will have the chance to reflect on the truly amazing efficiency of your reptilian brain, you will have made certain that the person you are speaking to erects a virtually impregnable barrier of self-defense.

Think about it . . . nine times out of ten, hasn't blame and criticism aimed in your direction had the same effect? And the beauty of this is . . . the more a person is exposed to this treatment, the faster they become at putting up walls. Some people even decide to leave the walls there permanently.

Another benefit to this technique is that the speaker also gets to feel lousy even though he or she is talking about someone else. And by the way, it’s also just as effective used directly on oneself!

2. Deny responsibility for your actions.
You’ll get fast results with this one!! It’s related to blame in that you get to point your finger at someone else or at an entity such as an organization.

But here’s where the magic happens . . . you then get to stand back and make others responsible for all your woes. So much fun! If you like to think “poor me” and “if only”, this one is unbeatable!

3. Order people around.
Ooooh honey I love it when you tell me what to do! Any joy the other person might have had in doing what you want is instantly lost when they’re told to do it. Even if the person ends up doing what you want, it will be out of submission and you can be pretty sure you won’t be getting the best the other person has to offer. Hello resentment! If on the other hand, the person happens to have a rebellious streak, you have another kind of mess to deal with. Either way, it’s a mess.

Over time, this method erodes the very foundation of the relationship. Don’t take my words for it though. Try it for yourself. Don’t wait another minute!

4. Threaten people.
Another winner!! When others think they may be punished or have something taken away as a result of not doing things your way, this sets the platform for lying, cheating, conniving, manipulation, crime and other wonderful things. This is lose/lose at its very best!

There are plenty more “relationship busters” I could share but these definitely top the list. And what’s great is that these proven winning techniques can be applied in many different scenarios with consistent results.

If, however, after using these methods for a while, you discover your energy is slowly being drained and you start hankering for a change, then I invite you to discover some effective alternatives.

Recent polls indicate that the number of people being drawn to relate differently is clearly on the rise. In fact it appears that the Ruin Your Relationships Formula is fast becoming antiquated and losing popularity. Conversely, there is a burgeoning interest in exploring win-win formulas.

This is where Nonviolent Communication (NVC) comes in handy. NVC is a powerful process that uses communication to serve a very different purpose. It places a premium on facilitating trust, openness and optimism and inspires people to work together in genuine partnership – in both home and workplace settings.

Should you happen to be one of the individuals who is tiring of the ruinous habits mentioned above, and would appreciate a refreshing change, come join the growing numbers of people who are using this process to positively transform their communication and their relationships.

Learning NVC is fun, informative, and engaging. You’ll end up with an exciting tool-kit and once you gain some proficiency, you’ll be sure to draw some surprised looks from the people in your life as well as some smiles!!!

Rachelle Lamb is president of Mindful Communication and a certified trainer of Nonviolent Communication – a NEEDS based model that helps people communicate in ways that inspire goodwill and cooperation. Her website is www.RachelleLamb.com

Keep learning these vital communication skills with these books and training resources:




"When others think they
may be punished or have something taken away
as a result of not doing
things your way, this sets
the platform for lying,
cheating, conniving, manipulation, crime and
other wonderful things."

- Rachelle Lamb