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1: (often followed by `of') not aware; "seemed unaware of the scrutiny"; "unaware of the danger they were in"; "unaware of the newborn hope"; "the most unaware person I've known" [ant: aware]


2: not aware or knowing; "an unwitting subject in an experiment" [syn: unwitting [ant: witting]


3: (often followed by `of') lacking knowledge or awareness; "incognizant of the new political situation" [syn: incognizant] [ant: cognizant]

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The Healing Art of Communication

By Ayal Hurst  Much of this information is taken from Marshall Rosenburg's wonderful book, 'Non-Violent Communication.'


Most of us relate violently to one another, even though we're unaware of it or may think we're relating adequately: it's how we've been taught to relate for centuries.

Communication is probably the most potent force for good or for harm on the planet. If you use it destructively, you can do great damage. To be a clean and effective communicator takes practice, so I invite you to take in what you can in this article and then be gentle with yourself as you grow and learn more.


I hope that, after reading this article, you'll be inspired to continue to gather more information about how to relate with loving communication.

First of all, what will be presented here may be totally new ways of relating and communicating for you, so it'll take a lot more time to integrate it fully and be able to use it as well as you might wish to.


However, it's a start. Even if you simply use it to communicate differently one time a day, that's a seed for new possibilities in your life. Be kind and gentle with yourself - give yourself room to grow and know that if you're reading this, it's because you want to grow and learn loving communication.


Although compassionate communication is vital to our emotional well being and to our very existence, the art of communication is one of the most difficult arts to master in life, because it's the Art of


"Being Aware of Yourself and your own feelings." .

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We communicate with each other via our words, our emotions, our facial gestures, body language and our actions. Most of our communication is non-verbal. We take our cue about the meaning of another's communication only 7% from their words and 93% from their tone of voice.


As you all know, when speaking to an animal, what you say doesn't matter. What registers and is responded to is the tone.

i.e., the meaning of: "What are you doing?" is totally different when using a gentle tone of voice than when using a harsh tone, using the same words: "What ARE you DOING??!!"

The subject of compassionate communication has a great deal to do with self love, because often our inability to communicate effectively stems from low self esteem, which = a lack of self love.


With almost all other arts, it's obvious that to master the skill, you must master the tools. To be come a master communicator, one must learn to master oneself. Unless you master the tools of becoming aware, your communication will probably not serve you well.


What you will express to others will be whatever unresolved feelings or issues you have within you. You'll also miss what they're wanting and trying to share with you.

Most of the communication styles we've learned are unhealthy. Each of us filters the world through our past experiences, so we often use communication styles modeled by our parents or primary caregivers.

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There are 4 basic styles of communication:

1) Aggressive - Often people think that they're responding assertively when they're actually being aggressive. These personalities come on too strong and their energy bombards or pushes at people.


Because of life experiences, they're full of hurt, anger and resentment. They all too often lash out at others or overly defend issues. The aggressive response tends to evoke aggression in others and make the aggressive communicator even more out of control, which further alienates them from others.


To be in control is a dominant need for them. Then they feel safe: if they control or push others away, then no one can hurt them.


2) Passive - Passive communicators tend to appear weak and self conscious. Deep down they feel insecure and may experience self doubt.


They let themselves get pushed around and say "I'm sorry" for things they didn't do.


They radiate a sense of wanting to speak up, but they don't, so there is a feeling around them of unspoken expectations and unmet needs 


Being passive perpetuates the cycle of negative thinking toward oneself and one's self image and self esteem drops even lower.


3) Passive Aggressive - They'll say one thing to your face and another behind your back.


This is the most insidious of the styles because it's harder to confront and subtler than the other two styles mentioned. They deny responsibility:


"I was just joking."


Trust is non-existent and these people feed on negativity and gossip. They act in this way to achieve a pseudo sense of control.


They find if they can subtly defame another, they're somehow achieving a victory for themselves and they think then that they'll look (or feel) better than another.


4) Assertive - The *gold star* of communicators.


Their communications are compassionate in their delivery. It's the ability to relay a clear message without blaming, shaming, criticism or insinuating.


They're compassionate listeners. Compassionate listening requires a deep connection that goes beyond the person's words. An assertive communicator gives undivided attention.

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Where do you see yourself?


Martin Buber said:


"In spite of all similarities, every living situation has, like a newborn child, a new face that has never been before and will never come again. It demands of you a reaction that cannot be prepared beforehand. It demands nothing of what is past. It demands YOU."


To be a good communicator, first of all you must show up for the conversation. To have a win-win situation in human relationships, where both parties come away feeling good, you must be fully present and wanting to connect with the core essence humanity of the other person.


That means wanting to understand their pain, being able to understand or empathize with their joys, their struggles and to feel compassion for them.


You can do this because you also see yourself in their pain, their joys and their struggles.

An ancient Chinese philosopher once said:


"The hearing that is only in the ears is one thing. The hearing of the understanding is another."


Do you remember a conversation where you were really trying to get something across to another and you came away feeling awful, or not heard?


It happens all the time. That isn't compassionate communication.

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Sucker holes to communicating well:


When choosing to be in a conversation with someone, first of all one needs to watch out for:

  • Becoming mechanical - doing it but not wanting to truly connect.

  • Being more more interested in doing it correctly than in being there for the other person.

  • Coming from being patronizing or arrogant (oneupmanship).

  • Wanting to change or correct someone. The belief that we have to fix people or situations or make others feel better will cause you to relate to others in a harmful way - as if they're a specimen. We get dehumanized by derogatory images of others or thoughts of wrongness about ourselves.

The great poet and mystic, Rumi, said:


"Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I'll meet you there."

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Ask yourself before you respond to someone where you're starting to come from. If you're coming from a belief in wrongdoing or rightdoing, from needing to fix or blame someone... then think again. The interaction you'll have will be a form of violent communication.

What stops us from being present: (see which of these you do...)

  1. Advising - "I think you should...." "How come you didn't....?"

  2. One upping - (impatience) "That's nothing! wait till you hear......"

  3. Educating - "This could turn into a very positive experience if you just......"

  4. Consoling - "It wasn't your fault; you did the best you could."

  5. Storytelling - "That reminds me of the time....."

  6. Shutting down "Cheer up! Don't feel so bad!"

  7. Sympathizing - "Oh! You poor thing!"

  8. Interrogating - "When did this begin?"

  9. Explaining - "I would have called but...." (putting your "but" in someone's face never works).

  10. Correcting - "That's not how it happened. It was like this......"

In relating to others, it's never the behavior of another person causing us to feel angry, or unkind, or blaming - it's our own unmet needs. We can identify the other person's behavior as the stimulus for our upset, but it's not the cause.


Our feelings come from inside of us because we're needing something. No one can make us feel a certain way. To tell them they did so is to use guilt to coerce them, to try to make a person do what you want them to do. This is a form of violence.

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Why would someone choose to deny responsibility?


To be complaining, a victim and/or a martyr... they're already judging themselves harshly and so they don't want to admit that they're the ones creating this for themselves, feeling this way, because they won't deal with themselves lovingly.


We've had role models of being rejected, so we do the same thing to ourselves and we pass it on to our children or partners, etc. People are terrified of rejection and no one wants to be seen as bad or doing something wrong.

We often hear people say:


"Don't cry. Don't be sad. Don't be angry."


We're told in so many words that we're bad or it's wrong to feel. If we can't feel our own feelings and be gentle with ourselves for having them, for having an unmet need, how then can we deal with anyone else's feelings in a loving way?


What then do we do with those feelings?


We have to throw them off on someone else for:

  • "creating those feelings in us" 
  • for "making" us feel that way

This is called projection.


This is a Denial of responsibility.


An example:

  • "You made me so angry (sad, etc.").
  • "If you hadn't been so ______ then I wouldn't have_______ ."
  • "I had to act that way or do that because _____ ."

How would you re-state these sentences, taking responsibility for how you're feeling?

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We often hear coercive or guilt-riddled, blaming and shaming statements such as the following:

"It hurts me when you _______ ."
"It really
disappoints me when _______ ."
"You should _______!"
feel sad because you did this ________ ."

Violence comes from the belief that other people cause our pain and therefore deserve punishment. The cause of our feelings is located in our own thinking.


For instance, if a person says to another:


"You doubt me all the time."


What is that person really thinking and feeling? What they're really feeling is the following:


"I am feeling insecure. I don't know if I trust my own competence and I am needing to know that I do things well."


What messages are conveyed to the other person in the statement "You doubt me all the time!"?

In order to be able to relate to another and not blame them for what goes on for us, we have to shine the light of consciousness on our own feelings and discover what we're really feeling and needing.

Most people have trouble doing this. We live in a culture of blame and shame and of denial of feelings.

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When we learn to deal with ourselves lovingly, we can then treat others in the same way. When we take responsibility for what's going on for us, we can then respond clearly and without hidden agendas.
The cause of our anger or distress lies in our own thinking - in thoughts of blame and judgment: When we relate from this place, what we offer others is life alienating communication - communication that disconnects us from others and even can cause damage.

We're contributing to violence when we communicate in this way.

The 3 stages in developing emotional responsibility:

  1. Emotional slavery - thinking we're responsible for the needs of others.

  2. Obnoxious angry stage where we realize we're not and we assert ourselves but in a way that doesn't respect others (that's your problem! I'm not responsible for your needs, etc.). Not caring about how we effect others or their needs.

  3. Emotional liberation = assert your needs comfortably in a way that respects the needs / feelings of others. Awareness that we can't meet our own needs at the expense of others.

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A Form of Life Alienating Communication is:

The use of moralistic judgments that imply wrongness or badness on the part of people who don't act in harmony with our judgments. Take a look at your language.


Do you use phrases such as:

  • "The problem with you is _______ ."
  • "Why did you do it that way?"
  • "She's ____such and such."
  • "It's inappropriate when you ______ ."
  • "Don't you know that ________!?"

What makes a person want to criticize or blame? They're not finding a way to get their needs met that works.

What do you think is going on when someone responds to another in this way? Once again, it's a
belief that people deserve to be punished = that people are bad or evil.


It primarily comes from a belief that you yourself think you're bad or inadequate and deserve to be punished.

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Comparisons are a form of judgment and result in making your life, or others, miserable. Blaming, labels, criticism, put downs, insults, comparisons and diagnoses are all forms of judgment.


If you want a compassionate response back, if you want someone to be on your side and able to hear what you would like to share, or would like them to meet a need that you have, it's self defeating to blame them, shame them, criticize them, or interpret or diagnose their behavior.


Someone who feels the need to defend themselves against you will not be someone you can easily talk to or make requests of.

J. Krishnamurti once remarked that observing without evaluating is the highest form of human intelligence.

What's the difference between an evaluation and an observation?

An observation is simply noting a fact without
drama, judgment, putting a spin on it, or having your own hidden agenda in there.
Here is X and you're simply noting one's relationship to X, or the facts of the matter.


Observations are to be made with specifics of time and contest. It's noting factually what just happened in this moment - it's not making comments to the effect of what someone "always" does, or "never" does, or how someone "always" is, or "never" is.

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An evaluation is your own judgment of what's going on. Opinions are like assholes (*sorry!) - everybody's got one. And an evaluation or judgment you make is likely to change at any moment. When we combine observation with evaluation, people are apt to hear criticism.

Have you ever evaluated someone
negatively and then had it turned around on you when that person did something loving the next moment?


It's a waste of life energy, actually, to evaluate because it will change in a moment. Making an evaluation is an impersonal way of communicating that's a way to hide the authentic feelings YOU are having.


It's also language with violence in it vs. the language of compassion.



  • "She just never arrives on time. She is so thoughtless!"


  • "Today Sally arrived a few minutes late."

Another example would be making this statement, an evaluation:

  • "Violence is bad,"

vs. expressing it in this way, stating one's own feelings about a matter:

Evaluations usually contain words such as:

  • never
  • whenever
  • ever
  • seldom
  • always
  • frequently

These words, when used as an evaluation or exaggeration, provokes defensiveness rather than compassion.

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Feelings vs. non feelings: allowing ourselves to be vulnerable when expressing


Owning our feelings helps to resolve conflicts.

Distinguish feelings from thoughts:

  • "I feel that you should know better."
  • "I feel like a failure."
  • "I feel unimportant."
  • "I feel that you doubt me all the time."
  • "I feel misunderstood"
  • "I feel that's unfair!"
  • "I feel as if I'm living with a wall."

None of the above are truly expressions of how a person is feeling. The following is, however, an example of a feeling: "I feel scared when ______ because I think that _______ ."

Words such as "that, as if, like..." are not revealing feelings.

Acknowledge feelings and express why they were there: "I felt ______ because..."

If you communicate instead, by saying,

  • "This is what I think...," 
  • "I am wondering whether ______ ," 
  • "I am aware that I am feeling ______ right now," 
  • "I am aware that I need ______ ," 
  • "What I would really like to hear from you right now is this..." -

then you are not blaming someone else for what you are feeling. That way they are safe with you.

You can also help another to be safe with you when you are in an upset by saying:

  • "I am aware that I am feeling ______ right now, but it has nothing to do with you. It's my stuff."

It is easy, often, to feel badly about yourself, or feel badly about something and take it out on another. We tend to think that if the other person were different, we'd feel OK. This is never true. We ourselves choose how to respond to any given thing in life. We are not victims.

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How would one express feelings in these sentences?
  • "You disappointed me by waiting until midnight to come home."
  • "You made me sad because you didn't tell me you loved me."
  • "You made me angry when you broke the bowl."
  • "You made me frustrated when you didn't finish what I asked you to do."


Coming From the "I" Place: Taking Ownership for What's Going on for You and Releasing Shame and Blame


If you say to someone:

  • "You did this...," or
  • "You made me feel (angry, sad, crazy, etc.)," or
  • "You are so.....," or
  • "If you weren't so....," or
  • "Why did you do that?"

you're blaming and shaming. Those are "you" comments and "you" comments are usually always critical and violating. "You" comments damage a person's spirit and sense of themselves. And, "you" comments damage their ability to trust you. They also make you the "victim."

When you speak from the "I" place, you gain a deeper sense of inner strength. You stand in your Power, because you're taking responsibility for what's going on for you.


You accept that no one "did it to you" and that you're responsible for how you choose to feel. When you speak from the "I" place, because you're aware of what's going on for you, your communication is apt to be less charged with blaming others or with your own unconscious emotions.


Then you're less caught up in the emotion you're feeling or in the situation itself. You'll be able to simply express what's going on. You'll find yourself speaking more factually, calmly and reasonably and people will be able to hear what you have to say instead of wanting to get away from your unpleasant innuendos (blame or shame) or distressing emotions.


When you speak from the "I" place, you release the need to control, direct, convince, or manipulate others. You're simply, factually expressing and sharing how it is for you, how you feel and think.


And it's OK that everyone's Truth will be different. When we speak our truth calmly, from the "I" place, we avoid the pitfall of making someone else wrong, or trying to convince anyone of anything.

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Giving a negative message

People give one another negative messages constantly. There are 5 options to deal with receiving a negative message - only #4 and #5 deal with it effectively and create compassionate communication:

  1. Take it personally and blame ourselves.
  2. Repartee back - blaming them/others.
  3. Swallow it and withdraw - just take it.
  4. Sensing our own feelings and needs and coming from the "I" place - shine light of consciousness on oneself: "I realize I feel _______ when you ______ ."
  5. Sensing the other's feelings and needs: "Are you feeling _______?" - shine the light of consciousness on it.

Requests vs. Demands


Requests are received as demands when others believe that they will be punished or blamed if they don't comply. To tell if it's a demand or a request, observe what the speaker does if the request isn't complied with. If it's a demand, the speaker then criticizes or judges.

There's a wonderful expression that speaks eloquently about how people feel when a demand is put out to them. It goes like this:


"All I know is I feel won't, when I'm told to do a don't"

There are 2 options to receiving a demand - neither works to allow you to have a good relationship with another:


1) submission or
2) rebellion


Laying a guilt trip on another can be couched in all sorts of ways. If guilt is involved, then requests are heard as demands. If you've felt that you'll be blamed or punished if you don't comply with doing what others want you to do - it's  important to get an understanding of what dynamics are going on so that you not will relate in that the same way to others.

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Example of a conversation between Jack & Jane:


Jack: "I'm lonely and want you to spend the night with me."

She: "I'm tired."

He: "How selfish of you," or "If you knew how lonely I was feeling, you'd stay."


Either of his responses is a guilt trip put on her. Therefore, he was not requesting her to stay, but actually putting out a demand that she stay, as he did not allow her the right to refuse without blaming her or making her guilty.


He wasn't compassionate toward her needs, but instead interpreted her needs , her no, as a rejection.

A demand isn't a compassionate communication.

If we interpret noncompliance with rejection, then our requests will be heard as demands.

Phrasing such as:

  • "Would you be willing to ______?"

rather than

  • "Do this," or "I want you to do this,"

shows we're requesting, not demanding, if we allow the answer to be a no without then blaming the other for their response.

When we have self righteous thoughts such as:

  • He should
  • She's supposed to
  • I deserve.....
  • I'm justified
  • I have a right to....

....when we frame our needs in this way, what we say will be heard as arrogant and as a demand. Then we're bound to judge others when they don't do as we requested.

"I'll usually respond to when you call - but if you come across like a high and mighty boss you'll feel like you ran into a wall. "

Ask 100% for what you want - that doesn't mean you'll get it, and that has to be OK.

Let a person know that this is a request: "I have a request to ask of you." Define your objective clearly when making a request.

Express requests in positive action language - "What you do want?" Express what you want clearly and specifically.

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Whenever we say something to another person, we're requesting something in return.
It may be:
  1. An emphatic connection - a verbal or non verbal acknowledgment that our words have been understood
  2. We may be requesting an action that we hope would fulfill our needs
  3. We may be requesting honesty - to know the listener's honest reaction to our words.

We generally rely on verbal clues to know that our request / communication has been understood to our satisfaction. Think of communication as food. We want to be satisfied and fed by it.

After we've expressed ourselves vulnerably, we often want to know:

  1. What the listener is feeling: " I would like you to tell me how you feel about what I just said and your reasons for feeling as you do."
  2. Or to know our listener's thoughts: specify which thoughts, about what exactly that you presented, that you'd like them to share. We're specifying what thoughts we'd like to receive.

It's especially important when addressing a group to specify and be clear about the kind of understanding we want back from them after we've expressed ourselves.

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Empathy is a respectful understanding of what others are experiencing. It's listening with the whole being. Being with someone - not looking at them to see if they fit into our theories or shoulds. We're fully present and we give to others the time and space they need to express themselves fully and to be understood.


Empathy can only occur when we've successfully shed all preconceived ideas and judgments about the other person. There's a Buddhist statement that aptly describes this ability:


"Don't just do something. Stand there."

The more we empathize with the other party, the safer we feel and the more they'll then be able to empathize with us when we choose to share.


If you feel angry, humiliated, taken advantage of etc. when listening or conversing with another, you may need to withdraw physically, scream silently, or take time out to give yourself empathy before returning to the conversation.


Giving oneself empathy = discover the needs that have been powerfully triggered: finding out what you, yourself, are needing and wanting and giving compassion and understanding to yourself.

A compassionate response to this statement: "I feel as ugly as a pig!" for instance, might be: "Are you feeling disappointed with your appearance today?"

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No matter what others say, we're only hearing what they are:

If you hurry the process and don't stay in empathy, what do you think will be the result?


Empathy allows people to touch deeper levels within themselves, release emotional pain and blockages and then move on. Usually they're able to solve the problem once they've been fully heard and have expressed themselves fully.

We know the speaker has received adequate empathy when:

  1. There is a visible or audible relief of tension
  2. A glad agreement: "Yes! Exactly!"
  3. The flow of words comes to a halt. If you're not sure they're done - you can say: "Is there more you wanted to say?"

If we find ourselves unwilling or unable to give empathy, despite our best efforts, it is because we're starved for empathy ourselves. For example on a plane, to offer oxygen to others one must give oneself oxygen first.


If we become skilled in giving ourselves empathy, we can experience a release of energy that then allows us to be present for others. Or, we can let another know what is going for us and we may get from them the empathy we need to then be able to give back to them.


If we're able to speak our distress nakedly and without blame, then even people in pain or their own distress are able to hear our need. Ask for the love you need honestly.

All criticism, attack, insults and judgments vanish when we focus attention on hearing the feelings and needs behind a message. An individual with an unmet need is what it's all about. They're appealing to us to contribute to their well being and through listening with compassion, we do that for them.


Any conversation is a opportunity to give love to people, if you hear what people are needing:

"Are you feeling ______ because you're needing ______?"

This = not taking it personally and seeing the other's need without judgment.

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Reflect back to them that you fully understood and heard them by paraphrasing what they said or what we understood them to say. Ask it in the form of a question:

"Are you feeling ______ because you would like _______?"

When we paraphrase, the tones of voice we use are highly important. When a person hears themselves reflected back, they're likely to be highly sensitive to the slightest hint of criticism or sarcasm.


They're likewise negatively affected by a declarative tone that implies that we're telling them what's going on for them. The Appropriate Tone is one that lets them know that we're genuinely interested and one which is asking whether we have understood them correctly - it's not a tone claiming that we HAVE understood.


We're humble and open to understand something another chooses to share.

Mirroring is another word for paraphrasing. It's a way of fully being present with another person. When you mirror someone, what you're actually doing is turning yourself into a mirror. You do this to let them know that you've really heard, or "gotten", what they have communicated.


In mirroring, you reflect back to the other person what they've shared. This is accomplished by repeating what they've said in the form of a question, to see if you got it right, to see if you really understood what they're wanting to get across to you.


It's important to do this in a sincere way - letting them know by your tone that you are truly connected and interested, that you understand what they're saying - that you "get it".


When that occurs, you both have shared a true moment of intimacy and connection. Nothing feels better.

People can feel a fake mirroring, however - one that really doesn't care about what they're saying. Watch out for not truly being present with another. That will feel very yucky and cause harm.

Some forms of mirroring may start out like this:

  • "If I'm hearing you right, you're letting me know that you ..... , is that right?"
  • "You want me to understand that ........, is that right?"
  • "You're letting me know that when ..... happened, you felt......, yes?"
  • "You were really upset when.... you must have felt .....?"

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A great tool when you don't know what to say, to mirror someone, is to say this: "If I were to say exactly what you wanted me to say right now, what would it be?"

When you mirror, you're making no judgment calls on what is being shared. You're just there to get their experience, to get whatever it is they're trying to share.


Therefore, there's no "you're right or wrong" or advice put out to someone in mirroring. It's a powerful way to let them know that you've understood their experience, you understood how something felt to them, you understand what they just went through, or what they thought about something.


You don't bring your feelings, or stories, or memories, or side comments about yourself into it. What you look for is - are they feeling angry, sad, fearful, or happy about their experience?


Do they like or dislike something?


What are they trying to accomplish by sharing the information with you?


If you have done a good job of mirroring, you'll get a response like:

  • "Yes! That's it!! Exactly!" or
  • "Absolutely!" or
  • "You got it!"

If you get a "no, that's not it", or a hesitation of some sort, they'll usually explain it again. So you try again. If you can't be a good mirror at some point, kindly let the person know that you'd like to hear what they're saying, but you're unable to at that moment.


People need to get emptied out of what they're feeling. If they don't, they can get so full that they explode, or they may feel lost in some way and unable to move forward in their life. If you give them the space to get it out and be "mirrored," they'll naturally heal, be able figure it out for themselves and move on.

You'll find that if you mirror, even if someone is totally upset and off center, they'll be able to regain clarity very soon. Sometimes the change is miraculous. The more they open and share, the more intense it gets, the more you mirror.


Remember - we all just want to be truly understood when we share. We all want this. It's a basic human need for good psychological health.

What about people who don't answer back - what's going on for them?


Often they have withdrawn from the conversation out of a fear of doing it wrong. What would you say to them? You can Mirror them or future pace them. (See future pacing information at the end of this article).

See how well you can paraphrase these using empathy:

"You're a fool for trusting a total stranger!"
"You never hear me!"
"You doubt me all the time!"


"Are you reacting to ________?"
"Are you feeling because you would have liked _________?"
"Are you wanting me to tell you my reasons for ________?"

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Hooking Others (Includes discounting, or putting others down)

  • 7% of what a person takes from what you said comes from your words.
  • 93% comes from your tone of voice.

If you put out an unfair or nasty feeling, tone, or comment to another, you're hooking them. You're "zinging" them, or getting in a verbal punch to the gut.


If you do this, the other person will feel bad, blamed, or shamed in some way (unless they've learned to mirror and not take it personally!) They may not even know why they feel bad, because hooking is an underhanded, covert and often unconscious thing.


But the conversation and any connection with them, will be over at that point.

Often, when people hook, they're not in touch with what they're really feeling. They'll let their unexpressed anger or upset out in a way that hurts another, is sarcastic, or unfair.


When people do this, they're not owning or aware of their own stuff. They may say something like: "I was only teasing you. Why are you so upset about it?"


But what they have actually done was hit below the belt. Hooking usually comes when you least expect it. That way the person has made sure that you won't confront them, that you'll be taken aback and knocked off center.

Hooking usually occurs when someone is trying to regain a sense of power, but does it unfairly. Or, it can occur if they themselves have felt hurt but don't know how to express it cleanly.


Hooking another can be expressed through a contemptuous sound or gesture; it can be expressed by simply shaking your head, or rolling your eyes, or turning away with a look on your face.


It can be expressed by a sarcastic comment, such as "Yeah, right".

Be aware if you hook another. You can do this by being aware of what's really going on for you. Hooking is a nasty, underhanded, unsafe and unclean way to communicate.

Instead of giving another a negative message, you can:

  • See Someone's B & P - Their Brilliance and Purpose What you want to reflect back to a person is their highest intention: what their soul is trying to learn, to create, share, or experience.

All thoughts, actions and feelings come from wanting to do good in some way - to share love in one form or another. Even if what someone is doing appears distorted, or seems frustrating to you - the need to experience or share love or do something good is behind it, if you look closely enough.


That's what you look for: you mirror or reflect back to them their brilliance and purpose. Ask yourself, when mirroring, what is their B & P here? What are they trying to accomplish? When you do this, a person will walk away from your communication feeling wonderful, validated and totally uplifted.

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Your own stuff - getting hooked


If you find yourself hooked, it means that somewhere during the conversation, you got pulled in or triggered by the other person's energy, by their upset feelings, or by something that was said.


This means that you probably have something going on inside of you, an issue or an upset, which matches, or is similar to the upset of the person you're mirroring.


Your own wound or upset rises to the surface and gets rubbed, so to speak. If that happens and you retaliate or withdraw in some way, that is an invasion of your stuff into the other person's process and space.


If you get hooked, you can't be present, real, kind, or connected. If this happens, do your best to catch it and own it. If you're too charged to be a good communicator excuse yourself from the conversation by being honest about what's going on for you.


You can later check inside yourself to find out what it is - if you do, you'll learn something about yourself.

Resolving Internal Conflicts: Dealing with inner messages which are filled with judgments


Example: I should do something more with my life! I'm wasting my education.

Restate the message in the following form: When a, I feel b, because I am needing c. Therefore I would like d.




a. I spend as much time at home with the children as I do,

b. I feel depressed and discouraged

c. because I'm needing the fulfillment I once had

d. in my profession. Therefore, I'd now like to find part-time work in my profession.

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Resolving Anger: Focusing attention on what we are needing


Anger is the result of life-alienating, violence-provocative thinking. At the core of all anger is a need that isn't being fulfilled. Use it as a wake-up call to realize that we have a need that isn't being fulfilled... and that we're thinking or behaving in a way that isn't likely to get that need met.


If you direct your anger toward punishing people rather than getting your needs met, you add to violence and lose energy that could be used to meet your needs.

Instead of righteous indignation, connect emphatically with your own needs and the needs of others.


"I am angry because I am needing _______ ."


It's not what the other person does, but the images and interpretations in our own head that produce anger.

When our heads are filled with judgments about someone, they'll most likely not be very interested in our needs. Then we have severely impaired our chances of getting the result we were looking for.


The more we hear them, the more they'll hear us. If you blame me, you've lost me. When we hear the other person's feelings and pain, we recognize our common humanity.We also want them to hear our feelings and pain.


Practice translating each judgment into an unmet need.

When you relate to someone, ask yourself: "Is the strategy I'm using going to get me the results I'm looking for?"

4 steps to expressing Anger: Give yourself empathy first before responding

  1. Stop and do nothing but breathe.
  2. Identify the thoughts that are making you angry.
  3. Connect to the needs behind those thoughts.
  4. Express your feelings and unmet needs appropriately

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Learning to Not Take it Personally


When you're a mirror, you're protected from taking on anything someone says in a personal way. This is because you're standing behind the mirror, in a sense. You're only there to reflect them. It's not about you. Nothing they say has anything to do with you.


It only has to do with how they're feeling about something that they have experienced in their life. You can't cause a person to feel something. Nor can anyone cause you to feel something. Each of us chooses to have a feeling, or a response, to whatever we come into contact with in our life.


Responses come from inside of us, not from anything that happens on the outside.

If you do find yourself taking it personally, feeling upset or responsible in some way for someone's feelings, or caught up emotionally in what they've shared, you've gotten "hooked" and you'll feel guilty, blamed and upset.


Then it's likely that you'll jump back at them with defensive feelings of your own.

If you find yourself beginning to get hooked, or if you feel confused, you can do what is called a reality check. Tell them you need to check out what is being said, because your mind is telling you that it's your fault or that you did something wrong.


Or maybe you simply don't understand what's being said. You're needing to check it out to see if they're meaning it the way you're taking it. "I need to do a reality check here. My mind is telling me that..... is that true?


Or, "I'm hearing you say this. Is that what you mean?" Then you get clear. The mind can often trick us into hearing things a certain way due to our own issues.

Speaking Your Truth Directly to Another


For clean communication, make every effort not to make comments about another in an offhand way or behind their back. Avoid comments like "Can you believe so and so did this?!" Even if a person doesn't hear this comment directly, they'll feel the energy of it.


And it'll distort the relationship and your ability to communicate or relate with them cleanly after that. If you have some upset with someone, or want to say anything at all about them, it's best to do it only if they are present.


Use the above communication tools and express it to them directly in an honest, responsible and non-blaming way. It's better to first figure out what is bothering you and why, that way diffusing your need to voice comments about another.

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Future Pacing


Future pacing is an effective communication tool to let another person know what will be happening, or what they can expect. It prepares them for what's coming up. You can also use it to let another know what you'd like to see happen, or what you'd like from them.

An example: "We'll be getting in the car in a few minutes and I'm aware that we may be feeling tense about being on time. Can we agree to let it be OK that we're running a little late?"




"On the walk tomorrow, you may find that there will be some steep places. If you have any concern about this, would you be willing to let me know?"




"I'd just like you to be aware that I'm feeling.... right now, so I may not be able to ....".

Future pacing allows you to set things up so that they'll work out in a harmonious way. It also honors another, as it gives them the opportunity to know what to expect, to be prepared ahead of time for a given situation and to work in cooperation with you.


It lets them know that you care about their well being enough to create a sense of safety for them. It allows them to handle what may happen with dignity and calm, as they are forewarned.

Distinguish Your Feelings From the Facts

author: John Fishbein, PhD


Feelings don't change facts. Strive to distinguish your feelings from the facts.


General Information


All of us, from time to time, unwittingly blend our opinions or feelings with the facts and consider the resulting viewpoint to be the actual fact. You may think, i.e., that you're discussing the facts of a situation when you're actually talking about your own imagined version of the facts.


The thoughts and feelings you have about a situation are, of course, important; nevertheless, they don't change this fundamentally important principle: Thoughts and feelings, no matter how sincere or strong, don't change the facts.


Although feelings can provide important and useful information, sometimes they give inaccurate or exaggerated information. In any situation, i.e., there are objective facts unaltered by personal opinion or feeling as well as subjective opinions and feelings.


When you have a strong feeling (a feeling that all is well or all is lost) it's tempting to believe that the feeling itself accurately reflects reality. Sometimes, of course, what you feel is consistent with the facts of reality. At other times, however, what you feel may not be supported by the facts. In other words, feelings aren't necessarily related to reality.


Distinguishing thoughts and feelings from facts can be better understood by considering how a camera works. A camera simply records facts as they are. It doesn't record personal thoughts or feelings.


Unlike a camera, your mind can add opinions, assumptions and feelings to the facts creating a customized picture - whether accurate or not - of any given situation. This is natural and healthy as long as the opinions and feelings aren't thought of as the objective facts.


There are two ways of dealing with feelings that produce a distorted picture. At one extreme is the person who ignores his feelings altogether; at the other extreme is the person who excessively dwells on his feelings.


Ignoring Feelings


Although you can go through the motions of life while ignoring some or all of your emotions, you'll be at a disadvantage. If you attempt to ignore emotional pain, i.e. you'll likewise have difficulty being sensitive to pleasure.


Ignoring emotion also causes you to miss out on important information about yourself and your environment, making it difficult to think objectively, make reasonable decisions, or effectively communicate.


Missing out on the information provided by your emotions is like driving a car without paying attention to the instruments. You can still drive, but you're apt to make little mistakes like occasionally driving too fast, running out of gas or overheating the engine.


Likewise, without essential emotional information you're apt to make mistakes or get stuck while attempting to solve personal and relationship problems.


Some people, unaware of their feelings, mistakenly consider themselves highly rational. Such individuals often appear impeccably calm and smooth. Nothing seems to upset them.


Like the automobile driver who ignores the fuel gauge registering empty while thinking and acting as though he has plenty of gas, some people ignore their emotional instruments, thinking and acting as if they were calm.


If you're married to someone like that and you're aware of your own normal emotional ups and downs, you (and he) may mistakenly view him as calm and yourself as volatile.


Contrary to outer appearances, the so-called "rational" man often has difficulty distinguishing facts from feelings because he's unaware that there is any difference between the two.


i.e., When Bill walked through the front door, Sharon knew he was upset. Bill, however, considered himself calm and rational. Actually Bill was upset about work but hadn't yet recognized that fact. When Sharon asked him how he was, he responded sincerely, "Fine."


Upon looking around the house Bill launched into a tirade about how messy it was even though it was reasonably tidy. Because Bill was unaware of his feelings about work, he had difficulty seeing that the house was neat and that the problem lay within his own unrecognized feelings. His opinions were being affected by feelings he didn't admit he had.


Key Point: The truly rational person is aware of his feelings as clearly as he is aware of the facts in a situation.


Dwelling on Feelings


Some people are so aware of and involved with their feelings that they lose sight of what the facts are and whether or not their feelings are supported by the facts.


Such individuals tend to base their opinions and decisions on how they feel, often without considering all of the facts in the situation. To them, what they feel represents what is real.


Attempting to reason or communicate with someone who believes that what they feel determines what's real is an exercise in frustration. They tend to give their feelings more credibility than the facts, regardless of how much evidence you give them.


i.e., although Norm and Sue are living beyond their means, when Norm feels they can afford a new car, financial facts can't convince him otherwise. Since he feels good about the purchase, he "reasons," it must be all right.


Key point: Thoughts and feelings don't change facts.


When you're able to distinguish the facts in a situation from your feelings about the facts, you're in the best position to objectively and sensitively examine all available information.


Steps to Applying the Principle


Practice reminding yourself of the key principle:


Thoughts and feelings don't change the facts.

  • On several 3 x 5 cards write the above principle. Place the cards where you can see them at least a dozen times a day (refrigerator, T.V., mirror, visor of your automobile, etc.).
  • Whenever you have a strong feeling or opinion, remind yourself of what is written on your cards.
  • When you experience a feeling that seems unreasonably strong or inappropriate to the situation, ask yourself:

What are the facts that supported this feeling?


Key point: When a particular feeling isn't supported by facts, you're usually better off not taking it seriously. Acknowledge but don't dwell upon such feelings.


Caution: Even though feelings don't change facts, dwelling on feelings inconsistent with the facts creates the illusion that the feelings, nevertheless, represent truth and fact.


3.   Practice distinguishing feelings from facts in 3 important areas of your life: Your identity ("I am" vs."I feel I am"), your activities ("I do" vs."I feel I do") and your possessions ("I have" vs."I feel I have"). It helps to take a piece of paper and draw a line vertically down the center. List your feelings on the left side and the facts on the right side. 

4.  When there's a discrepancy between the facts and your feelings, you're usually better off acting on the facts rather than on your  feelings. Emotions are usually not as reliable as the facts, since emotions can fluctuate independently of the current situation because of flashbacks from the past, exaggerated thoughts about the present or future, or insufficient information.
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Tips for Parents Who Have a Child Who is Unaware of Feelings from: www.readyforlife.org

Friends, Family and Home
  • When arguments occur with siblings or friends, ask him how he thinks the other child feels.
  • Discuss feelings her friends might have when they're upset with her and role play how she could talk to them.
  • Talk about and name feelings with the whole family.
  • Encourage him to think about his friends' feelings and their wishes when he makes plans.

Activities and Television

  • Play a game and have her guess feelings based on your expressions.
  • When watching TV, ask him how the characters on TV might be feeling in a situation.
  • Involve her in service to others, such as taking cookies to someone or making a get-well card.
  • Play board games with him that involve expressing feelings and ideas.

Learning, Childcare and School

  • Ask teachers to her name her feelings when she is upset.
  • Choose programs and schools that emphasize caring about others.
  • Provide books and activities about how to feelings and expressing feelings appropriately.
  • Explain to teachers that sometimes the emotion she shows isn't her true feeling.

Guidance and Discipline

  • Name his feeling. i.e., "You seem angry at Johnny" or "I can tell you're very happy right now."
  • After a bad experience with someone occurs, talk about how both she and the other person must feel.
  • Talk about positive feelings and identify them for him when he or others are happy.
  • Recognize that she may act in anger when she is really sad or hurting.

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