To Pet a Howling Jackal or Let it Howl?

(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.)

The NVC process refers to “jackals” as those howling voices in our minds that are set off when we are in some pain from unmet emotional needs. We may hear our inner jackals howling, for instance, if someone says something harsh that doesn’t meet our needs for fairness, consideration, kindness, etc.

While jackals are not dogs, exactly, they do kind of remind me of wild dogs.

In October of 2011 I saw a documentary on public television’s Nature series, entitled “Dogs that Changed the World: Dogs by Design.” It pointed out the reason so many dogs become serious behavioral problems for their owners. Many dogs were bred for specific jobs or functions. They have a strong instinct to perform those jobs to please their owners, and then the dogs feel happy.

Many dogs in modern times are cooped up in a house or apartment all day and night, or are tied up out in the yard. They feel anxious or tense when they don’t get a chance to exercise and blow off steam. They feel bored, frustrated or morose when they never get to do the job they were bred for. Despite the huge success of the TV series, “Cesar Milan: the Dog Whisperer,” very few dog owners seem to understand their dogs’ needs.

Likewise, many people don’t understand the needs of their inner jackals, especially when those jackals are howling. We don’t look at why they are in such pain and frustration.

There may be numerous profound needs that are not being fulfilled, which causes deep pain. Or there may be just one or two simple needs, causing a minor annoyance or irritation. In that case, you may be able to simply pet your jackal reassuringly so it will simmer down quickly.

In a sense, mastering the self-knowledge process of NVC is like being a jackal whisperer. Our inner jackals, when we don’t pay attention to them, can become frustrated or furious, just as a pet dog can. It’s all about focusing some quality attention on them to see what we are needing.

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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