Empathy and the Power of Reflective Listening

Empathy is a give and take process. Most of us can admit we need more empathy and acceptance from others, especially if we have healing to do on many levels. But the truth is, that if we are undernourished in our own emotional lives, overstressed and feeling like a victim to circumstances, we have difficulty offering real empathy to others.

We have to remember that when we have been in a long term state of psychological or physical trauma, the first step to healing is to listen to ourselves deep inside. Sometimes this means enough solitude to do self-reflection in the heart, in our bodies and really listen. Really feel. And this can be scary and uncomfortable.

What often happens in long term trauma is a tendency to “shut down” and repress ones true feelings so habitually that the focus is usually on external things, physical health, defenses and addictions, other people or circumstances–often in a negative fashion. Such as constant drama, relationship problems, unhappiness with the job, the family, the government, anything and everything that takes the focus off of ones real feelings related to deeply personal emotional wounding. This can manifest itself as the victimization process that repeats itself so much, that the lines get blurred on how and why the trauma keeps happening.

It is necessary to pause long enough to calm the mind, the body and the emotions, so that we can really do some self-reflection on what is truly happening inside, not outside ourselves.  It starts with the INTENTION of taking personal responsibility for healing on whatever level necessary for your own situation and life. This is how we take our power back.

Once we are able to really be present with what we are feeling in the moment from experience to experience, we are more able to be fully present for others empathically, resulting in deeper, authentic connectedness in relationships.

In this article by Marshal Rosenberg entitled, “Sustaining Empathy

http://www.listeningway.com/marshall-empathy1.html

(which is a chapter of his book on Non-Violent Communication), Rosenberg describes typical reactive responses that people often make to those who are in pain—offering judgements or quick solutions and fix-it answers. In compassionate communication the four pillars of this process are: Observations, Feelings, Needs and Requests. Even though a significant part of Compassionate Communication is “Requests”, the listener of this empathic process really needs to focus more on the empathic process of the feelings and needs portion of self-discovery.

Just being able to recognize our true feelings and needs in any given moment or experience is necessary for our true insight within to guide our own process of healing. Such taking responsibility in feeling and self-awareness is necessary before we can truly change our circumstances in life.

At some point in the process of personal growth, we come to realize that we can only be truly empathically present with others to the degree that we are in touch with ourselves. Personal growth is a process that takes time and maturity and has been described by psychotherapist Carl Rogers to occur in stages. He called these the Seven Stages of Process which lead to deeper self-connection. This process itself is solely based on receiving and giving empathy.

http://www.listeningway.com/gpc-gpr-connections.html

The process of a deeper connection to our authentic “self”  eventually leads to a more continuous, receptive way of being. There becomes a freer flow of energy and a dynamic, fluidic way of being that allows a greater freedom of giving and receiving love.

 

Inner Empathy Process Work

This is an update on the Anomalous Trauma and Embody U Groups that were discussed in the previous posting for Anomalous Trauma Group Support. We at RISE Multiversity decided to wait until the launching of our first Round Table Discussion Forum, which is now set for Sunday, May 17, 2014, 5 pm Eastern Time, before setting dates and times for Embody U groups. However, we did come to an agreement that a time frame for the Anomalous Trauma group will most likely be held on a Monday or Thursday evening from 6-8 pm, and possibly another group for a weekend afternoon time slot if we have more than one group.

For now I would  like to share what I have learned from Inner Empathy in my own experience as well as its precursor, Compassionate Communication.

Inner Empathy as I learned it from Jerry Donoghue of Asheville, NC

Inner Empathy is  derived from Non-Violent Communication or Compassionate Communication.(Marshall Rosenberg)

NVC, to summarize is based on four components:

  • Observations
  • Feelings
  • Needs
  • Requests

These four aspects are important to define clearly for an individual in communication with another person in relationship when wanting to communicate effectively and with compassion. At the root of all feelings are core needs, which may or may not have been met, and the reason for the arising feeling(s). These feelings, if they are based on unmet needs, and if incurred traumatically, may result in beliefs or judgements about life and people which are erroneous. These “false beliefs”  function primarily on a subconscious level, and are the driving force which patterns the person’s life and how they create their life. (Positive feelings or even neutral ones based on needs which are met, result in a balanced truthful view of reality, life and do not compete or create conflict within oneself or with others.)

These unconscious beliefs, feelings and core human needs which have not been met are then the inner conflict which are the basis of competing unconscious needs that get in the way of integration and wholeness. One set of needs is held subconsciously and be the basis of behaviors which are acted out, despite holding another set of consciously held beliefs, feelings and needs.

Inner Empathy is a way to communicate with the inner parts of oneself, by being guided by a listener who supports the inner inquiry process of helping the “supported” person discover deep feelings and needs which tend to lurk in the shadow realms of ones consciousness.

Inner Empathy can view the psyche as a system of parts that are held in awareness. To simplify, there are three basic types of parts:

Manager Parts: When we experientially connect with these protective parts, in addition to whatever these parts are protecting, these parts are no longer necessary in their extreme form and can be integrated in the system as allies in practical life matters. These parts are the ones that arrange and run daily life in such a way as to prevent the painful exiled feelings from emerging.

Firefighter Protective Parts: When we experientially connect with these protective parts, in addition to connecting to whatever they are protecting, these parts are no longer necessary in their extreme form and may rise again out of habit until the habit changes. Long time additions can fall away without much effort. These parts are the ones that urgently “take over” the system to extinguish or soothe any painful exile feelings that begin to or have surfaced.

Exiled, Disowned or Vulnerable Parts: These are the core parts representing the nitty gritty of the real, core-self issues. When we experientially connect with the pain, trapped feelings, unmet needs, self-judgements, beliefs and burdens of the core exiled (or dissociated, repressed) parts, something magical happens. This deep connection plays out for each person in different ways and protective parts seem to be less overprotective and defensive. Effortless self-corrections occur.

To get to this place of authentic core-self, we may go through many layers of defenses and levels of awareness,  uncovering our triggers, and reactions to these triggers. These reactions and feelings eventually ease off into more equanimity within an ever expanding spacious, compassionate awareness and presence. The manager and firefighter parts can also be viewed as defenses one may act out to protect vulnerable feelings and needs which are still stuck in a time warp of initial trauma. Some people have many layers of defenses, and oftentimes in the inner inquiry process many protective parts may come out simultaneously, acting out a story or drama that may play out on more on a mental level or cycle in anger before the real gut wrenching feelings finally surface.

When we can be fully authentic, and present within our own self, we are more able to extend that compassionate presence for others to explore their own authentic self. This happens through the heart.

In the beginning of an Inner Empathy Process of Authentic Self Discovery, one may have a totality of 4 basic aspects of being that can be represented as:

  • Manager Parts
  • Firefighter Parts
  • Exiled, Disowned and Vulnerable Parts
  • Empathetic Awareness

Where the manager, firefighter and disowned parts may carry a major portion of the personality. As we process the core feelings and unmet needs with the compassionate presence of our witnessing self, and with others in a supportive role, our own sense of self grows into becoming a greater percentage of Empathetic Awareness, and less identified with the other manager, firefighter or victim parts sill holding strong feelings and unmet needs. A huge part of not getting stuck in unpleasant feelings is to not identify with the feelings as oneself, but instead identify with the compassionate awareness that is aware of these feelings, which do eventually pass.

More can be found about Inner Empathy at:  http://www.innerempathy.com/

I believe that cultivating a basic foundation of Inner Empathy and practice of the Non Violent Communication (NVC)  interpersonal communication skills, one can then be at a more favorable place to build strong community.

(Reference: Inner Empathy Workbook by Jerry Donoghue, ISBN 978-1-61658-152-7)

The Basic, Ethical Tenets of Non-violent Communication of Compassionate Communication Consciousness:

  •  living under the assumption that we are all one, experiencing no separation, unitive consciousness
  • viewing the world through the lens of needs based consciousness instead of right/wrong or good/bad consciousness
  • fostering heart-to-heart connections
  • holding needs lightly in a way where they are to “have to have” (demanding and pushy)
  • holding the intention of wanting to cultivate a quality of connection where we value everyone’s needs and trust they all can be met
  • making true requests (not demands)
  • deriving strategies from this space of mutual consideration of each other’s needs
  • inspiring ourselves to want to contribute to other’s  needs out of a sense of love and caring instead of our of a sense of guilt or shame, or being motivated by demand, duty or obligation

 

Compassionate Communication/Nonviolent Communication Skills

In my new book, The Dark Side of Cupid: Love Affairs, The Supernatural and Energy Vampirism, Nonviolent communication is suggested as a primary strategy to help resolve and recover from anomalous relationship issues that arise as a result of complicated “interferences” within the love relationship itself. Compassionate communication skills are merely the first step in resolving anomalous issues, and when practiced regularly, can create profound shifts in our own understanding, empathy and connection with the other individual.

I deliberately focused on the relationship and spirituality issues of anomalous phenomena because I believe it will take an entirely different strategy than the ones I’m witnessing in the “truth seeking community” for the real, lasting, powerful changes and solutions we seek. We don’t need any more details of what the aliens are doing, what craft are flying in the sky, endless scientific debates and what underground bases employ the secret government-in-bed-with-the-bad aliens, etc., etc., etc.

Non-violent communication practice also helps the communicators to use parts of themselves that accelerate emotional intelligence and can deepen ones divine, soul connection. As this divine connection deepens, empathy and compassion arise as a natural part of our being. This important step ALSO expands our total awareness in other areas of our lives, which beforehand may have been mysterious, or disconnected from other levels of  understanding if we primarily rely on rational levels of intelligence.

Now, having said that, what I have observed in the UFO/Paranormal/Conspiracy and “Disclosure” oriented, truth seeking community is a basic unmet need for inner connection and empathy. Many of these individuals–whether they know it or not–are experiencers of anomalous phenomena such as alien visitations and paranormal experiences, harassment, etc.  As both a scientist and counselor, I see that a connect between the logical rational mind and heart intelligence is a necessary step to understanding and ultimately recovering from anomalous trauma. This includes the basic problem of non disclosure of anomalous phenomena interacting with humanity. (UFOS, alien/ET visitations, secret government mind control abuse, etc.)

Most persons in our western patriarchal culture–especially those of the more rational mindsets, continually “stay in their heads” assuming some scientific theory or logical explanation and proof will solve the problem. To make matters worse, these rationalists assume emotional intelligence, compassionate communication and spirituality issues are of less value or not even “the issue” of the problems they face. Nothing could be further from the truth.

What I have observed in this well-meaning, truth seeking community, are habitual behaviors and beliefs which are part of the problem.( I’m right, you’re wrong, ego based compulsive behaviors, criticism and blame, etc.) We need understanding, compassion, wisdom and self-empowerment to deal with the real issues. And yes, they are complicated. Devaluation of the intuitive, emotional, and spiritual aspect of our being, while assuming the superiority of scientific rationalism–will only cause more misunderstanding, harm and suffering in the long run. When there is a disconnect with the empathic and divine aspect of our being, we may tend toward entertainment seeking, unnecessary drama and endless scientific and rational debates, resulting in a cyclic process that goes nowhere but more frustration.

It is my experience that in order for the wisdom of true insight to arise, one must be in the presence of compassion. Compassion and wisdom are two sides of the same coin and exist together in divine awareness. These attributes can develop by doing healing work with yourself and with others, until true insight dawns.  The practice of Non-violent communication and compassionate communication skills is a first step towards the raising of ones consciousness. This is a very powerful practice I encourage anyone to learn.

Perhaps by this point in the article I have lost most “male readers”. I’ve heard it said amongst some Native American medicine women that in this era, it will be women who must heal themselves first, then the women must work to help heal the men. Only then will harmony and balance be restored. Oh–and that includes the “Disclosure” issue.

Here are a couple of videos of Marshall Rosenburg, founder of Non-violent communication. The first video clip is shorter for an introduction into Non-violent communication. The second video are questions and answers about this communication practice.

Video 2