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Cultivating Compassion: Exploring Feelings and Needs with Non Violent Communication (NVC)

Learning to recognise our feelings and needs with Non Violent Communication (NVC) is essential for self discovery, trauma recovery and healing from self-destructive behaviours such as disordered eating, addiction and self-harm. It provides a compassionate roadmap for navigating new ways of recognising our feelings and needs, being with our feelings and needs as well as how to communicate our feelings and needs with self and others.

What is Non Violent Communication (NVC)?

Non Violent Communication, developed by Marshall B. Rosenberg, is a communication framework designed to cultivate empathy, understanding, and peaceful resolution in relationships with the different parts of ourselves as well as all of our relationships. At its core, Non Violent Communication recognises that all human beings share common feelings and needs. By acknowledging and expressing these feelings and needs with Non Violent Communication, individuals can establish a deeper understanding of themselves and others.

The Feelings and Needs component of NVC provides a structured approach to expressing emotions and identifying underlying desires. It encourages individuals to communicate with empathy, promoting connection self and others, rather than judgment.

What are feelings?

In Non Violent Communication (NVC), feelings are recognised as indicators of our emotional states, reflecting the nuanced responses to our needs being met or unmet. Unlike thoughts or interpretations, feelings in NVC are identified as pure emotional reactions, providing valuable insights into our internal landscape. NVC emphasises the importance of accurately identifying and expressing feelings, fostering a greater sense of self-awareness and enabling us to communicate with clarity. By acknowledging and sharing our feelings in a non-judgmental manner, NVC lays the foundation for empathetic connection, paving the way for more authentic and understanding interactions. In essence, feelings, within the context of NVC, serve as a universal language that transcends cultural and linguistic barriers, creating a common ground for individuals to connect on a deeply human level.

What are needs?

In Non Violent Communication (NVC), needs represent the fundamental human requirements that underlie our feelings, thoughts, and behaviours, and they encompass a holistic spectrum of physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual aspects. Marshall B. Rosenberg, the creator of NVC, identified a universal set of core human needs that transcend cultural, social, and personal differences. These needs include the essentials for connection, safety, autonomy, understanding, and meaning.

NVC places a strong emphasis on recognising and expressing needs not only as intellectual and emotional concepts but also as embodied experiences. This incorporation of somatic awareness acknowledges that our bodies play a crucial role in signaling our needs (and feelings). By cultivating sensitivity to the somatic cues associated with unmet needs—such as tension, discomfort, or relaxation—we can deepen our self-awareness and communicate with self and others more authentically and congruently. Integrating somatic awareness into NVC enhances the practice by encouraging a profound connection between body, feelings, mind and soul, fostering a more comprehensive understanding of our needs and promoting compassionate communication. Through this holistic approach, NVC provides a framework for individuals to navigate the intricate interplay between emotions, thoughts, and bodily sensations, ultimately nurturing more harmonious and effective connections with others.

Please visit How Expansive is Your Emotional Vocabulary? Feelings and Needs We All Have on the NVC website.

Content by PuddleDancer Press. Use of content okay with attribution. Please visit to learn more about Non Violent Communication.

If you want to learn more about your feelings and needs, join the wait list for my Inner Child Course.





Sydney Registered Clinical Psychotherapist, Therapeutic Counsellor, Trauma + Eating Disorder Therapist, Jodie Gale, is a leading specialist in women’s emotional, psychological and spiritual health and well-being. Over the last 20+ years, Jodie has helped 100s of women transform their lives. She has a private counselling, life-coaching and psychotherapy practice in Manly, Allambie Heights and Frenchs Forest on the Northern Beaches of Sydney. Jodie is passionate about putting the soul back into therapy!



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