Phases of the Moon, the newsletter of the Maine NVC Network
Volume Two, Issue Two: Internal Sovereignty

Our newsletter appears once a month around the time of the new moon. Our purpose is to contribute to the NVC learning of people who have taken at least an NVC Level 1 workshop, and help us stay connected as we endeavor to deepen a culture of peace within ourselves, our families and the world. We believe a Level 1 offers so many new ways of thinking that additional support for learning and integration could be helpful.

We endeavor to make each edition informative, connecting, inspiring and fun. Please let us know how the newsletter might contribute to your NVC well-being.

The theme for this issue is Internal Sovereignty. This issue focuses on the common phrase, "That makes me feel ___" and demonstrates how this can be a signal for self-awareness, moving away from structuring life as a reaction to others and toward living our life from internal connection and choice.


"That Makes Me Feel _____"

by Peggy Smith, CNVC certified NVC trainer

When we think of human interaction on a continuum, we find peace/co-operation on one end and violence/destruction on the other. We are all on this continuum, moment by moment, making choices that move us toward one end or the other.

NVC is a process that can act as a compass – helping us turn toward the direction of peace and co-operation. Compass in hand on a white background

When I feel upset by something, the first step I take toward peace is to recognize that I feel upset – often because my mind is thinking there is a problem and someone is to blame. Our culture has encouraged us to find fault – giving us the choice of blaming others or ourselves for our unpleasant feelings and thoughts. [See last month's feature article about choosing how we process what we hear.]

Today I invite you to consider this phrase: "That makes me feel _____" (Substitute: "You make me feel _____", he, she, or they make me feel _____.)

Take time to notice over the next week how many times you hear this phrase – in conversation, on the radio, on the TV, in movies and in your own mind.

Our culture is constantly reinforcing a belief that the cause of emotions lies outside of us – in what others do or say. This leaves us in the victim position, and who wants that?

To reclaim our inner sovereignty, we can use NVC. When I notice my mind focused on the phrase, "That makes me feel _____" I can remember the NVC principle that my feelings arise from needs living in me - the energy that makes me human. [For more on this, see the feature article about the universal nature of needs]

Remember, the first step I take toward peace is awareness. I ask myself if I am thinking "That makes me feel_____" and, as soon as I notice this, I get to choose what happens next. Do I want to continue assigning blame, thereby moving along the continuum toward violence or do I want to re-orient myself toward peace and co-operation?

Using an NVC lens, "That makes me feel _____" means not only am I assigning responsibility for my inner state to something outside myself, parts of me are calling out for empathy. As soon as I recognize this, I can use the NVC process of clearly identifying an observation and then simply claiming my feelings so I can connect them to the needs flowing in me. By following this process, I reclaim my inner sovereignty.

So here’s a practice strategy: When I find myself thinking "That makes me feel _____" Simply restate – "I feel ____ arising from the needs of _____"

One BIG note of caution. Please remember, NVC is about our internal work. Our judging minds will often want to evaluate other’s speech using an NVC lens. Notice when you hear someone else say "That makes me feel _____" and you judge and try to correct him or her. Please remember this person is calling out for empathy. The most effective way to hold empathy is in presence – listening for the feelings and needs the other person is trying to express.

Once, when I was on a call-in radio show, discussing NVC, a caller remarked that she hated NVC. She went on to explain there was a very painful situation in her family, with one person labeling and blaming other family members in ways that stimulated a lot of pain. At one point the family tried an "intervention", pointing out to the person all the ways he "made the other family members feel badly." They were trying to move the family toward peace and co-operation. He responded that he had learned through NVC that he couldn’t make them feel anything. It appears he was using this piece of NVC wisdom as reasoning to not hear the feelings and needs that his family members were trying to express.

I am guessing that he was yearning for a lot of empathy during this family gathering. I wonder if he was hearing and believing a lot of blame and part of him reacted defensively. When this happens we can use the NVC model to respond authentically and vulnerably.

It might sound something like this:

"When I hear you say my words have created a lot of pain in you (Observation), I feel shocked and scared (Feelings) because I value family, love, and support (Needs). I realize there is a story running in my head that I am a mean person and that you don’t love me. A part of me is scared that you believe that too (deepening the vulnerable honest expression). I wonder what comes up for you when you hear this? (Connecting Request)

In such a heated situation, it is likely that more than one NVC expression will be helpful in creating connecting dialogue. Every attempt will help to reorient us (and possibly the situation) toward the peace and co-operation end of the continuum.

So please, hear the phrase "That makes me feel ____" as a calling out for connection to needs. If we each start with ourselves we will be more likely to be able to offer this gift to others.

Peggy Smith is co-founder of the Maine NVC Network and founder/principal trainer with Open Communication
Contact Open Communication for a presentation on NVC for your organization or business.

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close up of a snow covered field with green blades of grass showing through the snow

~ Poetry Corner ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

My Ambling Trudge
by Jennifer Leonard, Grand Beach, Maine

Life contends
I’m still my friend
Remind myself,  I am my friend.

It seems so slow
Yet it grows
Remind myself,  It’s growing.

Compressional strength
AKA growing pains
Builds my bones,  To hold me.

A beautiful song
Rings in the throat
I hope my friend,  Can hear me.


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Update regarding the Maine NVC Network

Notes from the January 7th meeting, which were sent out to the Maine NVC Network Yahoo email group, have now been published on the Maine NVC Network website HERE.

The steering committee has met once and plans to meet at least once more before the next general meeting in April.

PLEASE save the date: Friday, April 22, noon – 3:00 for the next Maine NVC Network gathering. This meeting will be at the Maine State Library in Augusta. Everyone’s input is welcomed: Email
Updates will be published in this newsletter, as well as on the Maine NVC Network News page, and are also being sent out to the yahoo email group list. (To subscribe to this list, send an e-mail to

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Crossword Puzzle

This is a fully interactive online puzzle; we will have a new one each month which relates to the issue's theme.


NVC Practice Group
Announcements & News

Free Telephone Based Practice Group

Beginning March 14, 6-8 pm, and meeting the second and fourth Monday of each month for 4 months
This is an open group. Anyone who has taken at least 2 days of NVC training is welcome to join the call.
Led by Peggy Smith / FMI


Upcoming Trainings

February 19, Camden, ME
Day of Empathy in NVC

Led by Gina Cenciose / FMI

March 12-13, Norway
Speaking Peace In A World of Conflict:
The Basics of NVC

Taught by Peggy Smith / pdf icon details and registration

March 26-27, Bangor, ME
Building Bridges of Communication:
an introduction to NVC

This event is a fundraiser for WERU Community Radio. Taught by Peggy Smith / pdf icon details and registration

April 9-10, Falmouth, ME Staying in the NVC Dance: a Level 2 workshop

Want to deepen your NVC skills learned at a Introduction? Bring your questions and curiosity for an active weekend.
Taught by Peggy Smith / FMI

May 14-15, 2011, Belfast, ME
Building Bridges of Communication:
an introduction to NVC

Taught by Peggy Smith / FMI

August 8-12, Hutchinson Center, Belfast, ME
PAX 495: Sustainable Communication
Advanced Topics in Peace & Reconciliation

Combined NVC level 1 & 2 with full 3 credits
Taught by Peggy Smith / FMI



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Have you been considering the Maine NVC Integration Program? Please enroll before February 17 to ensure program viability for 2011


Maine NVC Intergation Program:
Opening My Heart - Opening Communication, An Intermediate/Advanced NVC Experience
April to November 2011 - 9 Months of Deepening NVC Consciousness; 17 Days of Workshop
with Gina Cenciose & Peggy Smith, CNVC certified trainers

photo of the participants in the 2010 Maine NVC Integration program

17 days based in integrating empathy at deeper and deeper levels,
as well as strengthening ease and fluency with NVC dialogue. This program focuses on

"I have thought long and hard about this. How does one put a life-altering, complete paradigm shift into words? Imagine my delight in discovering that I HAVE CHOICE and am only responsible for my own feelings, thoughts, and actions! Who knew not only is it okay to share my "stories," but it brings the joy of authentic connection to my life and the life of others. "Being with" whatever comes up for me, instead of smashing down feelings that are deemed unsavory, allows self-connection and self-empathy like I never knew was possible. Dispelling core beliefs that I’ve harbored for a lifetime has opened up space for me to try new things and let go of old fears. The NVC Integration Program brought a bounty of discovery, empathy, compassion, and connection to my life and shifted my paradigm of thinking and being with myself and all those I encounter. It has altered my life in ways I’ve yet to realize!    - Jenn D., Mount Desert Island

pdf icon details and registration


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