Phases of the Moon, the newsletter of the Maine NVC Network
Volume Three, Issue Nine: Transforming "Should" Thinking

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.

This month's theme is Transforming "Should" Thinking. Starting from our "shoulds," we can transform our thinking to support more inner peace and maybe even more peaceful responses to our outer reality, too.


Let's Transform the "Shoulds"

by Betsy Terrell

Years ago, I had a flash of insight that said the word (thought, concept) "should" is the seed of all violence. It was a watershed moment for me, a turning point, and for many months afterward, I simply observed the very many ways the word/idea "should" formed my thoughts, opinions, even feelings, about myself, other people, and the world around me. I began working to shift "should" to "could" and to be generally more internally accepting than resisting. Don't get me wrong: I still firmly held onto and exercised my inherent choices to participate, redirect or leave any scenario, internal or external. But I sought to be less judgmental and more open to seeing a bigger picture, maybe understanding how this person or situation got the way it was.

Then I came across NVC and dove into it full-force. The understanding of needs-based motivation, and feelings being the result of deeply held or strongly tweaked needs/values, resonated enormously for me and expanded where I could go with my previous insight about "should."

I came up with a simple (though not necessarily easy all the time) exercise, using the feelings and needs cards, which I like to call, "Let's transform the shoulds." It will probably take about 20-30 minutes to do, but I'm guessing it will be time that surprises you.

Here's how it works.


a black and yellow spider on a background of jewelweed foliage

Suggestions for Further Practice

  • To deepen your self-presence with the feelings and needs you've identified using the cards, try taking a large sheet of paper and doing some drawing, using whatever media appeal to you, without thinking, just letting color and form appear on the page.
  • For the next 24 hours, try replacing "should" with "could" in your thinking and in your speech and watch how it shifts your feelings. If it feels good, renew your self-request.
  • Schedule a session with an empathy buddy to receive empathic presence from another person, around one of your "shoulds."
  1. Take 5 minutes and write down every "should" and "have-to" that comes into your mind, ones you tell yourself, ones you hear others tell you or imagine that others are thinking about you, as well as ones you say about others (to yourself or out loud).
  2. Next, read through them and pick the one that has the most emotional charge for you. (You can go back later and do this process on each of them one by one, if you care to.)
  3. Read the one you picked over to yourself a couple of times, and then just write all your stream of consciousness thoughts that come up around this issue for about 5 minutes (or more) until you feel the "steam" subside.
  4. Now take the feelings cards, go through the deck, and pick out all the feelings cards that fit this situation for you, and lay them out in front of you.
  5. Then go through the needs cards and pick out all the needs cards that fit this situation. You can group them next to or near the feelings they relate to, or just lay them out by themselves.
  6. Spend a few minutes just reading these cards and giving presence to whatever comes up for you.
  7. Now look at the original statement you started with, the "should" statement. Invite yourself to make a statement of intent that starts with "I choose to. . .", related to this situation. You might be surprised what statement comes up at this point.

I am hoping that you may find, as I have, that periodically doing this transformation game, a shift will begin to seep into your everyday thinking and relating and result in more inner peacefulness, and more understanding of yourself and others.

Betsy Terrell lives in midcoast Maine, and practices transforming "shoulds" while helping raise two small children; the important word here is "practices."

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Upcoming Trainings

Trainings listed here are in the Maine region. If you wish to list an event, please follow our guidelines for submission. Please note that both certified and non-certified trainers, (who are willing to follow certain requirements of the Center for Nonviolent Communication), may be leading the posted trainings. Listing here does not imply endorsement by the Maine NVC Network of the trainer or the event.

Sept. 21-23, Unity, ME
Come visit the Maine NVC Network booth at the Common Ground Fair.

Find us in the Social & Political Action Area. There will be a talk about restorative practices Friday afternoon and another talk on NVC based Empathy Saturday morning at 9.


Sept. 29-30, Ellsworth, ME
BePeace Practice: Creating Peace in Yourself
Presented by Paula Guarnaccia,
Certified BePeace Teacher & HeartMath Educator

pdf icon details


Oct. 27-28, Norway, ME
Connecting Across Differences: the NVC journey

Offered by Peggy Smith / pdf icon details and registration


November 3, Belfast, ME
Restorative Circles: Re-Discovering the Healing Power of Community

Presented by the Linda Cote-Small & Kristi Kirkham
details and registration


November 10, Bar Harbor, ME
Making Requests: Harvesting The Fruit of Nonviolent Communication

Offered by Peggy Smith / pdf icon details and registration


December 1-2, Falmouth, ME
Connecting Across Differences, an introduction to Nonviolent Communication

Contact Peggy for details: email


January 19, 2013, Falmouth, ME
Connecting Through Conflict: listening and responding when we disagree

This intermediate NVC experience will enhance our ability to connect at home, work and wider community
Contact Peggy for details: email


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Invitation to
Empathy Circles

WEEKLY: Mondays 10-11:30 am, Belfast
FMI contact Marshall or Carolyn:
Phone 338-0842

MONTHLY: First Friday of each month, 10am-1pm
at The Start Center, 37 Start Rd, Camden
You are welcome to come when you can. If this is your first time coming, please contact Linda beforehand:
Phone 563-6712 / email



Do you want to receive emails about upcoming NVC trainings and other NVC events in and near Maine?

Join the Maine NVC Network
Yahoo Group

The group is moderated and is only used for announcements of regional workshops and other Maine NVC Network events. Inclusion in list serve announcements does not imply endorsement by the Network.


Call for Volunteers

The health of the Network depends on the joyful efforts of all who yearn to bring nonviolent consciousness to our region.
To learn more, email our volunteer coordinator.


Maine NVC Integration Program

Opening My Heart – Opening Communication
An Intermediate NVC Experience

The 2012-13 Integration Program is off to a transformative start with 15 participants. People from Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Hampshire are joining Mainers in this NVC deepening intermediate experience. After our first weekend the feedback is:
"This is FAR more than I imagined."
"This is just what I was hoping for and more so!"
"The practices are so accessible and I am getting so many insights already."
"I am so grateful and looking forward to the home practice."

If you missed this program and want to integrate NVC into your daily life, plan ahead for the 2013-14 program. FMI email Peggy

Transformationa newly-hatched monarch butterfly hanging next to its empty chrysalis on a branch of a tree

It will not always feel good,
This growing.
This stretching beyond the boundaries of the known,
The comfortable.

It will not always feel safe,
This learning and relearning of your own abilities
This reexamining of beliefs
This pushing of envelopes
This breaking through enclosing walls.

You will shiver.

You will doubt.

You will want to run home.

Back behind walls of safety.

This walk to the edge will not
Feel good, safe, or comfortable,
But there is no faster way to learn.

There is no other way to grow.

So step out.
Leave your home base
Your comfort zone
Your cocoon

Acknowledge the fear and discomfort

But step out all the same.

With each step you take,
Your world expands
Your caterpillar mind will
Strain to comprehend the unbounded vastness of the sky.monarch butterfly on a flower in a field of yellow blossoms

Step out.

Step. . . step. . . step.

Unfurl your wings.


– Meg Goodmanson, Spirit Moves Dance


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