Now that you are familiar with the four steps of the CSF, we will focus together on two other important topics of non-violent communication in the next two chapters:
Empathy and self-empathy.
Let's start with the latter: Why self-empathy is so important have you ever been in a situation where someone tells you something and doesn't care about you at all? Or you are told something, you are totally tired or in time stress and wander again and again? There are always moments in life when we don't want or can't listen – circumstances where we don't feel like we have the desire or energy to listen to someone or even to give empathy to another person. It often happens that people who are more involved in non-violent communication develop the claim to themselves that they always want to be there for others from now on. Contributing to the well-being of others brings new perspectives to many people, inspires and enriches them.
It can then easily happen that we forget to pay attention to ourselves: "Do I have enough energy at all to be there for someone else?" If we answer this question with 'no', it is important to take care of ourselves first. We can ask ourselves, "Do I know why I can't or don't like to listen? If I just feel resistance, how can I find out what it's all about?" We can ask our counterpart: "I need a short two minutes to see what I need right now." – a practical way is to just go to the toilet and look in time: "What do I need now? Do I want peace of mind? Effectiveness? Relaxation? Use time wisely?" When we realize: "I just need rest or rest", we can express ourselves directly sincerely with the help of the 4 steps of the CSF and thus ask for something.
Example: "Max, that sounds real as if it's all pretty exhausting for you. I would love to listen to you and at the same time notice that I am quite tired and need rest. Do you want to tell me how you would feel if we met tomorrow for breakfast and we talk about it in peace? Then I can listen to you again as I would like." In other situations, we may need empathy ourselves in order to be there for someone else. For example, Max's boss says to Max: "You should be ready. What's going on?".
In this situation, is it easy for you to be lovingly interested in it and to hear how the boss is doing, so what is behind this statement?
Does she want effectiveness or recovery? Maybe you just don't want to know why she's saying it. This is usually an indication that you first need to be involved in how you feel about it. Referring to the example with the boss, this may mean that you are giving room for your frustration: "Do you want the boss to see what you have already done so far? Are you angry and irritated when you hear your tone because appreciation is important to you?" No matter what appears, it is important to see which feelings are there and what needs are behind them. At this moment, is it helpful to clarify whether I can get empathy from someone or clarify this for myself? After that, I am ready to be empathetic with my counterpart again. If we decide to be there for someone, then it is really important to do so only when it is an enrichment for ourselves. Empathy, care and compassion are only helpful if they are given with joy. Just as we can only give away a smile when it comes from the heart – otherwise an artificial smile arrives in the heart of the other.
We ourselves are quickly frustrated and exhausted when we overwhelm ourselves.
One way to control against it is to be counter-compassionate and empathetic to ourselves. We make sure that we have enough energy to feel comfortable and then possibly be there for others. It is important that we take care of ourselves as lovingly as we would like to do for others. Sometimes we need (self-) empathy before we can give empathy.