Exercise: Shifting Back Into Connected Consciousness After Disconnect
NVC is wonderful, but often people are too triggered or upset to use it. And there’s a reason for that: our brain. When your brain perceives a threat, it shuts down the rational parts of your brain (the neocortex) and reacts with animal instinct. When in that state, our thinking becomes black-and-white, we lose perspective, we have adrenaline prepping us for fight-or-flight, and our feelings are amplified.
We can’t help this physical reaction–that’s how we are wired, but we can learn to respond differently to our own reactivity. We can learn to pause, take a breathe, and wait out the immediate reaction without acting from that state.
We can also learn to shift states. We can consciously choose to engage in behaviors that help us reconnect and get us out of the downward spiral of disconnect. NVC/self-empathy is one of these things, and there are many other strategies that help as well.
I made a snazzy handout to give a visual representation of being in the flow of life(connection consciousness), a disconnecting event happening, the results (jackal), and how to reconnect (move from jackal back to giraffe consciousness).
Below is an exercise I did with my NVC Practice Group last night. We did this after a discussion of interpersonal neurobiology and resourcing using the handout.
- Think of a situation in your life where you feel stuck or in “jackal energy” still, and would like to shift to be in connection consciousness around it.
- On a scale of 1-10, where 1 is very stuck/upset/activated, and 10 is being at peace, write down where you are at with the situation.
- Close your eyes for a moment and get in touch with the feelings of this situation.
- Using GROK cards or a Feelings and Needs sheet, pick out the top 3 feelings you have.
- Also pick out the top 3 needs that are not met/lacking.
Choose a Strategy and Try It
Option 1: Shift Focus to Where Needs are Met
- Sit with the first need and think of some time recently when that need was met, or a person it is often met with.
- Example: I talked to my sister on Sunday and she was really supportive; it felt great.
- Example: I have a practice of listening and being supportive of myself.
- Feel into that feeling of your need being met. Let yourself remember the experience fully, and embody the feeling state of that need being met.
- When you feel complete, go to the next need and repeat until you’ve done all 3 needs.
Option 2: Access Your Creative Mind
- Close your eyes for a moment and get in touch with the feelings.
- Feel into what you want to have happen.
- Now write a poem to this person, or about this situation, or about your experience (you don’t have to share it with anyone unless you want to). Poems don’t have to rhyme or have a particular structure–it is just expressing yourself using a different part of your brain (the right brain). Don’t worry about wordsmithing it–just let whatever words come out. This isn’t about crafting a poem to submit to a publisher, it’s about expressing yourself in a way that you are not used to–you’ll be surprised at what might come out!
- Alternatively, draw a picture. Set the intention to draw from your intuition, either expressing your feelings, your needs, what you want to have happen, or anything else that wants to be expressed.
Option 3: Classic NVC
- Write down the precise observation about what happened, in neutral NVC.
- Write down the sentence, “When X happened, I felt Y because I need Z”
- Think of one small way you might get one or more of your needs met, that is a do-able request.
Option 4: Connect to Your Intention
- For 5-10 minutes, journal about what your intention is for how you want to be in the world. Forget the situation itself and just focus on who you are, who you want to be, what values are important to you, and how you want to show up in connection with other people.
- Consider your situation again, and journal for another 5-10 minutes about how you could show up in your example situation with those intentions.
Option 5: Access Wisdom From a Trusted Source
- Find a book that you experience as grounding and inspiring and read it for 10-15 minutes. The books I brought to class were:
- The Wise Heart by Jack Kornfield
- Legacy of the Heart: The Spiritual Advantages of a Painful Childhood by Wayne Muller
- Speak Peace in a World of Conflict by Marshall Rosenburg
- For 5 minutes, journal about how what you read might apply to your situation.
- Did this help? In what way?
- Where are you now on your scale of 1 to 10?
- If time permits, choose a second option and repeat the process.
I’m not a therapist or a guru, just a fellow seeker who has been there, healed that, and wants to share. I firmly believe we can all heal, and its often a winding road to get there. The more we share what works and help each other, the more we can all benefit.
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Thanks so much for reading! ~Emma