The Landscape of NVC … and Our Humanity


Our relationship with NVC is a lot like our most exciting, fulfilling relationships.

When we first meet, there is a tremendous sense of discovery and hope for deeply beautiful, fulfilling connection.

Then, as we get to know each other better, the “warts and farts and ugly parts” start coming out: our tangled, heartbroken, beautiful humanity, combined with the endlessly complex landscape of our human experience, emotion, perception, and connection.
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We discover it’s not always so easy to connect, no matter how much we long to. It’s not always so easy to make sense of what’s happening; virtually none of us come to NVC already knowing how to make an observation (find the reality behind our perceptions) when we’re upset, or knowing what our feelings or needs are (because we weren’t allowed to have these, as children or adults).

It’s not always so easy to stay present when our entire being is on fire with alarm … because our teenage son didn’t call when he got there, because the toilet paper was hung the “wrong” way (or not replaced at all), or because you turned what I said into something else and then got upset with me for what I didn’t say, that you invented.

There is so much more to what goes on within and between us than observations-feelings-needs-requests.

The landscape of NVC is the landscape of our human experience and our inextricably interwoven lives, because everywhere we turn, we are steeped in relationship with others — remembered or not, past or present or anticipated, they are with us always, woven into the very fiber of our brains and being, awake or sleeping.

NVC provides us with a road map for negotiating the territory of our shared humanity, and each part of NVC …

  • observations/what actually happened vs. evaluations/interpretations/stories/points of view
  • feelings/body sensations vs. thoughts/beliefs/what we tell ourselves
  • needs (what nourishes our thriving) vs. strategies (how we get needs met)
  • requests (respect for our separate beingness and equal right to thrive) vs. demands (the protective use of force, and also dependence or objectification/exploitation)

… provides us with a doorway into this territory, a place to begin our journey of exploration and discovery into the art of connecting in a life-giving way to ourselves, to others, and to Life Itself.

Here at Thriving Life, we understand that an entire world lives behind each doorway of observations/feelings/needs/requests, waiting for us to discover its gifts and guidance:

  • The Only Game in Town is Making Life More Wonderful (Aliveness; Connection to Life):  Life is about thriving, and the only thing anyone is ever doing, is trying to expand their well-being … even when those efforts are absurdly or even tragically ineffective
  • People Aren’t Good or Bad; They Are Thriving or Surviving:  When we’re thriving (connected to Life), we feel happy, and we have access to all that is best in us — our capacity for creativity, acceptance, generosity, patience, etc. all expand, the more we thrive. The more depleted we are — the longer our needs have gone unmet — the more disconnected from life we are and the more “negative” (life-disconnected) our thoughts, words, and actions tend to become
  • The stories we tell ourselves (our points of view, interpretations, assumptions, expectations, evaluations, judgements, etc.) are not the same thing as “what happened” (“reality” or “observations” or, for some of us, “the data”  😀 )couple_talking_2
  • Some of the stories we tell ourselves support our thriving and/or positive connection with Life/ourselves/others, and some of them don’t
  • We often don’t take the time and care to notice what our stories actually are, or what they are actually contributing to our thriving or our connection to Life/ourselves/others
  • Our feelings point to whether what’s happening is nourishing or diminishing our thriving; feelings are universal among all human beings.  Happiness is the feeling we experience when we are thriving
  • Our needs are the pathways we travel to nourish and sustain our thriving; needs are universal among all human beings
  • Strategies are ways to meet a need.  We often confuse strategies (for example, money, property, positional power) with needs (for example, freedom/autonomy, security, authentic power)
  • We tend to forget to identify our needs.  We also tend to forget to notice whether or not our strategies are actually working to meet our needs and increase our thriving
  • The essence of respect for (honoring, valuing) self is twofold:  1) recognizing and honoring our own right to nurture our own authentic thriving using whatever strategies work best for us (while being respectful of others), and 2) recognizing and honoring our right not to participate or remain “in range” of others’ strategies that diminish our own thriving
  • The essence of respect for (honoring, valuing) others is twofold:  1) noticing, caring about, and being accountable for the impact our strategies have on others that is our own creation (not to be confused with what others experience or create inside themselves in reaction or response to our strategies*), and 2) honoring others’ right to nurture their own thriving using whatever strategies work best for them … even when their choices don’t contribute to our own thriving (either in the moment, or in general)
  • The essence of respect for (honoring, valuing) all is adjusting our choice of strategies and/or the degree to which we can impact each other (as a result of how close/involved we are in each other’s lives, geographically, financially, emotionally, and otherwise), so that we can all nourish our own thriving without diminishing each other’s*

* The question of who is responsible for which aspects of our own or others’ experience opens up extremely rich, deep, complex territory. How we understand and negotiate this territory determines the quality of our relationship with others, with ourselves, and with Life Itself.  See my “Broken Toe” video to dip your toe in 😀 and get some initial clarity about this deeply empowering, relationship-transforming territory.

Exploring the territory within and between us can be overwhelming, especially when we’re new to this “inner world” that includes the fabric of everything we are and the mattering, connection, and belonging that is the essence of most of our dreams.

It becomes easier when we realize we are not alone in any of this, and that we were always meant to explore this territory within the embrace of a compassionate, resonant, empathic community.  We’ve created Rose City NVC and the Thriving Life Institute to provide a place were all of us — including us, personally, because we are human too — can experience this kind of transformational belonging and safety.


Welcome, all of us, to this human journey, where no matter how many years we travel, we are always at the beginning;

where we are ALL already Enough, because it is only our inability to Be With whatever’s So — about ourselves, about each other, about Life — that is ever in the way of what we dream of;

and where returning home to our own wholeness is the only place we ever need to “get to.”

I’m deeply grateful to NVC and the guidance it provides all of us on this amazing human journey towards full thriving.

And I’m deeply grateful for the companionship of all our tender, yearning hearts, as we travel together on this path of discovery.

I hope you’ll join us.

Blessings on us all,











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