Do Insults “Taken to Heart” Really Hurt?

(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

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.

About swpollack

I’m an independent mediator and collaborative communication coach who can help you to co-create greater ease, connection and mutual understanding in your personal and professional relationships. As a non-traditional specialist, my aim is to get concrete results for my clients in a fraction of the time usually required by traditional therapy and counseling. Please visit my business website: . The emotion-based coaching work I do is deeply therapeutic, yet I am neither a psychologist nor a psychotherapist. Instead I work with a holistic, empathic process called compassionate, nonviolent communication. I also facilitate ongoing support groups for people who want to learn this organic process of nonjudgmental communication to help build bridges of connection, harmony, collaboration and understanding. For more about my Build Compassionate Relationships meetup group, visit: . I’ve been offering these services to the public since 2000 in the greater Miami and Fort Lauderdale area, as well as by phone and through Skype conferencing. . Nonviolent Communication is a process developed by Dr. Marshall Rosenberg. It’s based on a very pure, nonjudgmental language of feelings, needs and requests. I’ve found this to be a powerful tool in my mediation work which involves bringing two or more people together despite a painful history of conflict.
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