The Magic of Clarity

*Workshop information below

Message from Myra

Dear Friends,

I’d like to tell you about something magical that happened this week. Or at least, that’s how I experienced it.

As you may recall, if you read my post on Life Enhancing goals, my current goal is to increase time for rest and renewal. I have clarity about what I want to do, and yet, I have not been able to break the habit of working more than is healthy for me. I used to be able to get away with it. However, at age 58, I can’t do this any longer. When I am fatigued I don’t enjoy life as much as I normally do, and I’m prone to contracting colds.

So this week, during my monthly retreat, I asked myself “How can Nonviolent Communication (NVC) help me at this time?” I talked to Leslie and told her about my dilemma. I said that I was having difficulty accepting the new limits imposed on me by aging. In what I experienced as full empathic presence, Leslie said, “If I understand you, you want to accept your need for rest so that you can have wholeness.”

Stars and sparkles. I was touched by the magic wand of clarity. I understood that my ultimate need is not vitality, as I had thought. It is WHOLENESS! With this amazing clarity, I have a newfound strength and determination to accomplish my goal. Today I pledge myself to turn off the computer every night early enough to have time to do yoga, listen to music and meditate before bedtime.

NVC came through for me again. According to my understanding of NVC, clarity about one’s needs is crucial in creating a fulfilling life. “Need” is the word we use to name the energy within every human being that guides him or her towards a rich and gratifying life. Needs are the conditions necessary for humans to thrive such as autonomy, integrity, authenticity, creativity and interdependence to name a few. Identifying a need is the first step towards meeting it.

I think it very helpful to have people in our lives who can help clarify our needs. One way of doing this is to have an empathy circle. Below are some guidelines I developed to create empathy circles. If you decide to do this, I hope they are useful.

Warm regards,




1. Ask two or three people you trust if they would join you in an Empathy Circle. Explain the purpose.

2. Together, determine the number of weeks you would like to meet. Eight-week cycles allow for trust to develop. More than 12 weeks may be too long a commitment for some people.

3. Before the first session, discuss empathic listening. You may want to read the chapter on empathy in “Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life” by Marshall Rosenberg.

4. Develop guidelines for the group based on needs. e.g., Need: Safety. Strategy: What is said in the circle stays in the circle. Need: Respect. Strategy: Refrain from giving advice unless requested. Need: Consideration. Strategy: Arrive on time. Let someone know when you’re not attending.

5. Find a private, pleasant place to meet. Meeting at the same place the entire cycle promotes predictability, and thus a sense of safety. Sitting in a circle enhances closeness. Although less rich, empathy circles can also be done by phone, for ease. Following is a suggested format for a 2-hour gathering:
•Ritual (poem, brief inspirational reading, silence, music…) – 10 min.
•Check-in -10 min.
•Empathy – 90 min.
•Check-out – 5 min.
•Announcements – 5 min.

6. At the end of the cycle, celebrate life. For example: go out to eat or take a walk in the woods. Renew the agreement with those who wish. Invite new people if desired.

Upcoming workshops for mental health professionals in Warrenville, Illinois

3/05/11 —Empowering Communication: Increasing Efficacy in the Helping Professions
3/25/11—The Dance of Empowering Communication: Deepen your Understanding and Practice

For further information:


About Institute for Empowering Communication

Co-founder of the Institute for Empowering Communication
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.