This is the importance of nonviolent communication in the present world. It’s not just for relationships but also, for food and how we treat ourselves.
Even I was surprised by the incredible twin-ness of Nonviolent Communication and emotional eating.
This “twin-ness” is important to understand. Because this world is in trouble.
All around we have people using words violently, and people using food violently/emotionally.
I hope to demonstrate the incredible parallels, the twin-ness, between nonviolent communication and emotional eating in this post below.
You see more about what I mean in this video!
Because twin-ness is an interesting word.
Nonviolent Communication and emotional eating, they are not quite identical twins.
Imagine realizing that you have a twin, who looks nothing like you. Yet your mannerisms and thought patterns are the nearly the same.
You both think and approach problems the same way.
In yoga they say twin-ness differently. They say that the “micro” contains “macro”.
Or how you do one thing is how you do everything.
It’s like a professional athlete. You can’t just be confident in the court. Good luck with that. You can’t just ‘flip on’ confidence like a light switch. You have to BE confident in life. Then your confidence will show up naturally on the court.
How you eat food is how you live life.
Food is the micro. You only are eating food at maximum a few hours a day. You sleep many more hours than you eat food. Hell, you work many more hours than you eat food.
Yet how you eat food is how you live life. Twin-ness. The micro (food) contains the macro (life).
And how you live life directly depends on your relationships.
And so yes … communication and food … on surface level … they don’t have much in common.
But there is a certain twin-ness. There is a certain uncanny parallel that I find absolutely fascinating.
Food and communication are basically the same!
Now let’s see if I can clarify these concepts more and also clarify some points of confusion that normally come up.
For starters, the first 3 steps of Nonviolent Communication are extremely similar to extremely important principles of Emotional Eating.
Or, stopping emotional eating that is!
These first 3 steps of Nonviolent Communication are 1) observation 2) feeling and 3) understanding your needs.
Taken in sequence these steps are like digging for gold. Your emotional need is the gold.
But emotional needs, oftentimes are hidden. In a world of social media, marketing advertisements, and tons of distractions …
It can be hard to listen and see what you really need.
So it’s like peeling an onion. First you have to observe. Just simply watch. You have to pause.
Then you have to feel. You have to feel what you’re feeling, where you’re feeling, and stay with the feeling. You have to just sit there and feel.
If you are new to just sitting there and feeling, it’s like the worst thing in the world.
Yet just sitting there and feeling a feeling is also one of the more important skills we can learn.
Because after we have observed and felt the feeling, then we have essentially peeled the onion. We have located the gold.
What do we do the gold?
We get the emotional need met!
Now getting your emotional needs met is so important. It’s the foundation for everything.
Have you seen Maslow’s hierarchy? It’s all about emotional needs!
In both nonviolent communication and emotional eating we realize that our problems stem from one thing and one thing only.
Our relationships suck and make us unhappy because our needs aren’t met.
Our emotional eating and problems with food occur because our needs aren’t met and we are substituting food to meet our needs, instead of actually meeting our emotional needs.
It’s the same thing.
Relationships and food struggles. Both stem from not meeting your emotional needs.
You have to meet your emotional needs!
There’s no way around it! There’s no magic bullet. Nope, there’s no secret sauce.
You have to meet your emotional needs!
If you get your needs met, your relationships will work out. You won’t fight as much, or hate as much.
If you get your needs met, you won’t eat so much. You’ll be at peace with food. You will have a good relationship with food.
Notice how I say a good relationship with food?
So now that we have established the commonalities and twin-ness between emotional eating and nonviolent communication, let’s go through each of the 4 steps and clarify some common confusions.
Step 1 – Observation Versus Judgment
In step 1 of both emotional eating and communication, we observe, but we don’t judge.
This is a trap many people fall for.
Their observation gets clouded with judgment.
Let’s take a typical example for both food and relationships.
Food – “I feel bad”
Relationships – “That person is mean”
It might sound strange but both of these are judgments.
The food thought “I am bad” is placing a moral judgment on how you feel.
Good or bad. Right or wrong.
The relationship statement “that person is mean” is a judgment too.
How do you tell a judgment from an observation?
Well, for the person who was mean … go with me here …
But what if you are overly-sensitive?
I know I am overly-sensitive.
Sometimes people say things that offend me, but when I talk to my close friends about it, they say that this person is actually being fine.
So an observation is factual. Everyone can agree on an observation. Not everyone can agree on a judgment.
So how do you make observations?
Food “I feel nauseous”
Relationships “That person said “You are fat”
Do you see the difference?
The second examples are facts. They aren’t judgments.
If you want to have a good relationship with food and with people, you have to learn and practice the skill of non judgment. The skill of observation.
Step 2 – Feel, Don’t Think
Question – how do you feel?
Food – “I feel like I have too much work.”
Relationship – “I feel like that other person is a my boss and I can’t do anything about it.”
Those aren’t feelings.
A feeling is something in your body.
A feeling is a sensation in your body that is energy.
It’s a tickle, an itch, a warmth, a coolness, a space, a heaviness, a contraction, a pulse, a heartbeat, a throb, a headache, a pain, a stab, a itch, a blankness, a something you can feel in your body!
What do you feel?
Food – “I feel like my eyelids are heavy”
Relationship – “I feel helpless and sad.”
Helpless and sad.
That’s vulnerability right there.
Boom. That’s truth right there.
That’s touching right there. Damn.
That’s ouch. And that’s good.
You want to be able to touch and contact the ‘ouch’.
You need to be able to place your hand on your heart and say ‘ouch’.
It’s ok to be hurt.
It’s ok to be broken.
You have to accept how you feel now, so that you can feel better in the future.
Because after you feel the ‘ouch’ and accept how you feel now, then you can move on to step 3…
Step 3 – realize what you need
Your emotions, your feelings, they are messages …
They are teaching you.
Feeling are the the truest answer as to the incredible importance of nonviolent communication in the present world.
We are out of touch with our feelings!
But what are they trying to tell you?
These sensations in your body …
What are they trying to tell you?
Are they telling you to rest?
Are they telling you to eat more?
Or, are they telling you to stand up for yourself and be brave?
Are they telling you to reach out to a friend and ask for help?
Maybe, they are telling you to be creative and to be engaged?
Are they telling you to find purpose?
Are they telling you to relax and stop taking things so seriously?
I don’t know.
Only you can feel your body.
You. Only you can feel your emotions and bodily sensations.
Only you can decipher what you are feeling.
And yes, you have to decipher.
You have to journal and process what you are feeling.
You have to be patient.
Sometimes you will know right away what you need.
Other times it will be murky and unclear what you need.
The more you sift through these emotions, the easier you will be able to decipher these emotional signals in the future.
Step 4) Meet your needs.
These steps are essentially identical.
Technically speaking, nonviolent communication only deals with communication.
In Eating Enlightenment, I teach and preach and use myself a two-pronged approach.
The two-pronged approach is meeting your needs yourself and requesting others meet your needs.
Since nonviolent communication only deals with communication, it doesn’t say anything about meeting your needs yourself.
But practically speaking it’s much more ideal to take the two-pronged approach.
You want to practice self-care.
Self-care isn’t talked about in nonviolent communication.
That’s my criticism of nonviolent communication.
No doubt, there is tremendous importance of nonviolent communication in the present world, but people need to have tools to begin meeting their own needs first.
I love nonviolent communication but they don’t talk about self-care!
In my opinion, self-care comes first.
Or at least, self-care is a tool that can be used to meet your needs.
Because you don’t want to rely on other people to meet your needs.
True, no one is totally independent.
We need people to some degree to meet our needs.
But we can start and begin the process of meeting our needs through self-care too.
That we are empowered on our own, and can ask for help from a more fulfilled non-needy place.
In nonviolent communication we make a request and get our need met, step 4.
In Eating Enlightenment training, we get the need met through self-care or through communication.
I hope you see the incredible parallels!
I hope you see the importance of nonviolent communication in the present world!