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