(Note: NVC is an abbreviation for Nonviolent Communication, a fluid, ever-evolving language process created by Dr. Marshall Rosenberg. It is also sometimes referred to as Compassionate Communication, and is based on universal human feelings and needs, the giving of empathy and making humble requests rather than demands.)
As covered in an earlier post, jackals are those harshly judgmental voices in our minds that judge and criticize people, places, things, ideas, comments, even innocent toddlers and pets. Yes, these jackals are also fully capable of judging and criticizing our own selves! Unfortunately, many of us let our angry inner jackals go unaddressed for years, or worse yet, for decades. When we do, those critical, judgmental, angry inner voices can move us to patterns of behavior which have little chance of meeting our deeper needs. The jackals can become instantly vicious without a lot of provocation.
It’s not just “crazy” people who hear voices in their heads; we all hear their precursors as repetitive thoughts. Let them repeat long enough without addressing them, and their volume level and intensity will increase to the point where they are harder to ignore, where they may even take control of the person.
Many simply have no idea how to address their jackals with compassion and understanding, nor do they know how to give themselves some emergency self-empathy, nor how to ask for deep, pure empathy from others.
If they are unfortunate enough to have been raised in a violent environment filled with violent words and/or deeds by parents or other authority figures…their jackals may become so virulent and furious that they seem to take over the personality entirely. In the extreme, they may suffer painful hallucinations and find themselves talking out loud to them in ways that make no sense to others.
Dr. Marshall Rosenberg, to name only one person, has been able to connect with people in such deep pain by giving many layers of empathy. We’re not talking about a 50-minute session or two. When someone is deep in the emotional desert where their heart and mind is shriveled from a profound thirst for compassion and empathy…they may need days or weeks in the presence of someone who can give layer upon layer of pure empathy. A good long soaking in that well of empathy will eventually begin to revive the personality so it can come back to life.
This is the power of empathy. While it may seem miraculous, it is really just a natural phenomenon. It’s just that there are very few who have the capacity or willingness to give pure, deep empathy for so many days or weeks.
Just as we find it easier and more convenient to label and judge people as “crazy,” we also find it easier to put them on heavy medications. We sometimes even have them committed to institutions, where they are far less likely to receive the quality of empathy that they are so desperately needing.
This is a great tragedy and loss of our modern age. I hope that someday our civilization will embrace NVC processes in our schools and colleges, families and communities. When everyone knows how to enjoy the deeply healing, spiritual process of giving pure empathy to their children and parents, friends and neighbors, bosses and coworkers…we may not ever build another mental institution. There simply would not be a need.
For information on services offered by Steve Pollack, please visit www.mediation-usa.net
Visiting the Miami area? You can attend Steve’s NVC Support Group by leaving your rsvp here: www.nvccoachmiami.com