What Are Our Feelings Telling Us? Heartful Communication
Heartfulness eMagazine|September 2021
In this 3-part series, Liz Kingsnorth introduces the importance of effective communication, some principles of Heartful Communication, and how we can better understand our personal feelings and longings, and the feelings and longings of others. In Part 2, Liz explores why we think and behave the way we do, giving examples of how our communication will improve as a result of this understanding.
By Liz Kingsnorth

Marshall Rosenberg suggests that underlying all our actions, words, and choices, are the human “needs,” aspirations, and longings that we want fulfilled. They are the motivators for our behavior. “Needs” may include safety, justice, belonging, to be heard, to have a sense of self-worth, to have purpose or meaning, to be accepted, to learn, to contribute, to have fun, to have peace. We do what we do and say what we say in order to try to meet a particular need. These needs are life-serving; in their essence, they positively contribute to life. Some needs are easy to understand, for example, going for a promotion to ensure security for the family, spending time on social media to meet a need for connection, complaining about loud music because of a need for peace to relax. Other behaviors are not so easy to understand, for example, not telling the truth. What needs might underlie this choice? I imagine each of us has said things at times that were not true, perhaps because we wanted to protect someone from hurt, or protect ourselves from criticism. Our motivation is to protect. If a child denies breaking a window when we know they broke it, our first reaction might be to scold them for not telling the truth. We might brand the child as a liar and thereafter doubt their word. If we feel into the child’s need underlying their denial, is it not self-protection? That is a need we all share. Perhaps they were punished in the past when they owned up to a mistake, so they have learned it’s not safe to tell the truth in such circumstances.

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