(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. For more on services offered by Steve Pollack, please visit www.mediation-usa.net)
After learning about Nonviolent Communication, I took a close look at this old saying. If you “take something to heart,” especially some angry words intended to slight or harm you, that figure of speech means that you felt really hurt.
One of the most liberating, empowering things I ever learned from the NVC philosophy is that I, that we all in fact, always have a choice as to how we will take things that people say or even do.
If I take an insult personally, to my mind that is more a matter of “taking it to mind” than taking it to heart. It’s my mind that creates the painfully illusory story that I have been harmed. On the other hand, it’s my heart that is capable of seeing the insult as a tragic expression of the angry person’s unmet needs.
Yes, we all sometimes forget that we even have that choice, which shows how at that moment of forgetfulness, we have not quite attained full emotional liberation. But we all do have the capacity to hear insults and see even intentionally hurtful deeds with our heart, to see them through the eyes of compassion. Ironically, in that way, by taking everything to heart, that is, by seeing things from the heart, we can protect ourselves from future harm, and may avoid the pitfalls of anger and resentment.