Why your needs and your spirituality don’t exclude each other

Why your needs and your spirituality don’t exclude each other

“Needs come from the ego.”
“Needs are the result of a belief in lack. But a belief in lack leads in the wrong direction.”
“If you are truly awakened, you no longer have needs.”

How do you feel when you read these statements?

We often hear these or other things when the topic turns to the questions whether needs are compatible with a spiritual journey.

The issue seems to have an explosive tendency. So we could choose to avoid it. Yet there lies a big danger to our spiritual progress if we refuse to look at our needs (as well as our feelings). This is why we will address it anyway.

So, what is it really about needs, and is there a “spiritually correct” way of dealing with them? 

First, I would like to invite you to check with yourself for a moment what you associate with the word “needs”.
(To clarify: With needs I mean universal human needs such as food, shelter, community, support, belonging, connection, being heard. Not strategies like “chocolate, smoking, travelling, TV” 😉 ).

What is your first reaction?
Do you see needs as something positive or something negative? 
And what images or words come up for you in regard to needs?

For most people, needs are something negative. Needs are linked to weakness and immaturity.
There is an idea that needs are something we will or should grow out of.
At least needs are seen as interfering with daily life. We are supposed to function, and we fear that we will no longer be capable of functioning if we give room to our needs. Would we, for example, still be able to do our job? Wouldn’t we just spend our day sleeping or lazily swinging in a hammock?

I personally believe that our suspicion towards is deeply anchored in our achievenment-driven culture, and that it has not necessarily originated from spiritualiy. Rather we took this suspicion with us into our spiritual life.

No wonder we find the same idea of needs as as annoying disturbance in the context of spirituality: Needs seem to be in the way of our connection to God and of our awakening because they keep us stuck in the human realm – or something like that.

At first, this sounds logical. It makes sense.
But there is a catch: With this idea we create a form of separation. 

And any form of separation undermines our awakening, because awakening is closely connected to the realization that there is no separation!

Applied to needs this means: If we see needs as a problem, we will take an adverse attitude towards them. This again means, that we are taking an adverse attitude towards a part of ourselves! The part in us, that has needs, is perceived as “wrong”, as something that must change or leave.
So voilá – there we have made a separation within ourselves!

How are we supposed to experience ourselves as all-encompassing, unconditional love, when we don’t love certain things in us, but try to get rid of them?

Exactly.

You could argue now that we are not trying to get rid of our true self, but only the ego self that is not real anyway. I agree with the ego not being real anyway, but I see the potential danger in wanting to get rid of anything. Because, if there is no ego – what are we trying to get rid of?!

Besides: Try to get rid of your needs and you will find yourself in a constant battle with yourself.

The illusional nature of the ego leads to the other reason why there is no reason to want to toss needs overboard, and why it in fact could be a counterproductive idea.

Let’s take a moment to look at the definition of “ego”.
The ego is a distorted perception of reality. The reality of God is love. 
(Because it would exceed the size of a blog article I want to leave the question, why we see so much bad if only love is real, to another time.)
God can not be anything else but love, because otherwise at some point He would self-destruct. Love creates and builds up, its opposite destroys. God cannot have both qualities – imagine what would happen long term. It just wouldn’t work out.

The ego has no power in and out of itself. It doesn’t have substance or a source. 
It is just an attempt to distort reality, a theater, a “Let’s pretend that evil is real.”
So what is left? Everything that is, comes from God, whether directly or indirectly. Nothing can come from the ego. The ego can only hijack things from God and mask them as something other than they are.

Why is that relevant in relationship to needs? Well, it tells us that needs also cannot be from the ego. They can only be wrongly used and interpreted by the ego. This is exactly what happens in our world, because this is what we have been taught.

Let’s turn around the old logic, according to which needs are something bad, and let’s look at the whole thing with some spiritual logic.

Everything comes from God = needs also come from God, or, in other words, behind what we perceive as needs in this world must be a divine impulse.
The ego distorts what comes from God = the ego judges needs as bad and interprets them as expression of lack.
If the ego is the opposite of truth, then needs have nothing to do with lack but are are impulse of abundance that wants to share itself.

When we look at needs thinking we lack something that we need to get at any cose from the outside, we are in ego and are using needs in a destructive way. We look for fulfillment outside ourselves and ruin our relationships through our demands.

But if we see needs as impulse to bring love into the world, expressed in a certain way according to the situation, then they become a nourishing power that makes life more beautiful for all of us. 

Example: In a certain situation I become aware that I have a need for appreciation. According to the paradigm of the ego I would on the one hand feel embarrassed about having this need while at the same time be trying to get appreciation from other people (mostly subconcsiously).
I would annoy others with my neediness and would often be frustrated, because I perceive a lack of appreciaton for myself everywhere.

Within the paragidm of abundance, the situation would look differently: “Oh, I see that this situation would be a lot nicer with some appreciation! Appreciation is the form, in which love would be helpful here. And if I am the one who notices it, then there must be the wish to show love in the form of appreciation in me. So, lets see – how can I express appreciation here, to myself and to others?

When I start letting myself know what I appreciate about me, and also tell the people around me what I appreciate about them, the love inside of me starts to flow and I can experience myself as love. As an enrichment to others, as a gift to the world and to other people.

This way a need that I perceive and that I respond to with love turns into a direct experience of love and oneness. A step into exactly the direction that we are aiming at with awakening, isn’t it?
Hereby it doesn’t make a difference whether I sense and answer a need within myself or someone else. There is so separation. We are one :-).

I would be happy to have raised some excitement about your needs with my words. Excitement to share your love with the world and give it to yourself. 

I feel this hunch inside that life could be a nicer through that. A lot, lot nicer.

Thank you for reading. What do you need today? 🙂

Kendra

P.S.: If you find this article helpful, then please share it with your friends. Thank you from my heart – we could need support ;-)!

Does empathic listening make a story true?

Does empathic listening make a story true?

Ever since I met Marshall Rosenberg, the founder of the non-violent communication,more than 10 years ago, I am a huge fan of empathic listening.

In a matter of seconds it creates connection, it calms people down, relaxes them and it solves conflicts. You’d think the whole thing is a complete blessing, and yet I often hear the objection: “But… don’t I make a story true that way?”

Source: loreanto@adobe.com

What people mean by that is: Do I not confirm someone who’s just not feeling well in his suffering, rather than help him find his way out? For example, consider a man named Kurt. He has already had a difficult relationship with its neighbor for some time. Now, without warning, over night the neighbor has sawed off Kurt’s long-cherished fruit tree close to his property, because windfall and leaves fell onto his lawn.

Kurt is outraged and upset. When he tells me about the incident, his face is red and he exclaims: “What an a******! Who does he think he is? No respect at all! I will not let him get away with that!”

Through an analytical lense, we could diagnose Kurt with having a victim consciousness. After all, he does see himself as a victim of his neighbor, doesn’t he? And if I listen to him empathically, do I confirm his state of mind`

Let’s find out. This is how it could look like if I gave Kurt empathy:

I: “Man, Kurt, you’re pretty pissed off, aren’t you?”
Kurt: “Oh yeah! Such an a******! Cuts off my beautiful tree just like that!”
I: “That was a shock for you, right?”
Kurt: “You bet! I look out of the window in the morning, and the tree is gone!”
I: “On top of that, it was your favorite tree!”
Kurt: “Yes!”
I: “You must be sad about losing the tree?”
Kurt (calms down): “Mmh, yeah. We got the tree for our the wedding, and for 15 years I have taken care of it and watched it grow.”
(Silence)
I: “It would be nice if you got along better with the neighbor, wouldn’t it?”
Kurt: “I have given up on that. You can see how he is! Idiot!”
I: “Sounds like you cannot imagine things to get better, especially now after the thing with the tree?”
Kurt: “Of course not. Trying to talk to him is useless.”
I: “You’re disappointed aren’t you? Actually you really want good relationships with your neighbors?”
Kurt: “Yes. You know, when we moved in, for example, we invited him to our house-warming party.”
I: “Do you wish he would acknowledge your gestures towards him?”
Kurt: “Yes! I don’t want to harm him.”
I: “This must be really frustrating for you !”
Kurt: “Yes, thank you! It feels really good to get all of that off my chest!”

At this point, Kurt can clearly feel his grief and his frustration. He is no longer angry and his mind is no longer circling around. Instead he is thinking how he might be able to communicate his pain about the tree and its desire for a better relationship to his neighbor.
He no longer feels at the mercy of outer circumstances, but back in connection with what he really wants. That gives him new strength and inspiration – which in turn increases his chance to finally reach his neighbor.

This scenario is fictive, but it shows very nicely what effects empathy has. At the end, it doesn’t lead to cementing a victim status or a negative attitude, but on the contrary, it brings an opening and creates the space for something new.

How does that happen?

As you might have noticed when reading the dialogue above, I didn’t confirm Kurt’s “story” with any word. I stuck with questions about his feelings and needs, and these questions helped him to come into contact with himself again under his troubled emotions. Thus, Kurt could ultimately feel that his real, deep desire was a good relationship with its neighbor.

Empathy helps people find back to themselves. It doesn’t judge, and it doesn’t try to give advice or convince of a certain viewpoint. Empathy mirrors back at the other person, that he is perfectly ok and loveable, no matter what feelings and thoughts he might be dealing with at the moment.
Empathic listening is also a way of being present, and this presence helps the other one to get present again himself.
All these elements support the person you are listening to to accept the situation, to process it and to get into constructive action.

Empathy is an attitude of unconditional acceptance of the other.
It also trusts that something good and life serving exists in him and will come to the surface, even if it might not be visible right now.

This non-judgmental and benevolent kind of being there for someone can be felt. The other person will not have that sense of having to defend himself, explain or justify. Carried by your unconditional acceptance he can instead relax into himself and start using the energy that is being freed up for constructive approach to the situation.

In the end, we don’t make a story true through empathy, but on the contrary provide somebody effective support to let the story go!

This “success” requires the non-judgmental value-free and benevolent attitude of listening I have mentioned. For a deeper understanding of how empathy works, please also read: “How to listen with empathy”.

I hope to have contributed to some more clarity about empathic listening and would be happy to hear what you think!

Kendra Gettel

P.S.: If you like this article, please share it via the social media. Thank you, we greatly appreciate!
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How to listen with empathy

How to listen with empathy

In private as well as professional relationships empathy is a very effective means to establish connection between people and solve conflicts. It also helps people in emotional distress to relax and find clarity, it leads to inspiration for creative problem solving, and it can even heal old emotional wounds!

Image source: JackF@adobe.com

The way I understand empathy, I learned it from non-violent communication (nvc) and its founder, Marshall Rosenberg.
I first met him at an introductory workshop about nvc in Munich, German. In front of a large room packed with audience I took up all my courage and asked Marshall personally if he would help me solve a conflict in my life by doing one of his empathic roleplays.

He agreed, and so I found myself on stage in a chair opposite to him. I was supposed to play the person with whom I had a problem, and he would play an empathic version of myself. I started and threw the the most hurtful sentences that I had heard at Marshall. The audience was roaring.
He did not even blink an eye and calmly said: “Well, it sounds like you’re sad because you’d like to have more contact with me!”
Out of nothing, I burst into tears. He had landed a direct hit. My whole aggressiveness was suddenly blown away. How the hell did he know? I would never have guessed THAT! How could all these attacks mean that this woman who I had difficulties with actually missed me?

Right there, I experienced the power of empathy myself. It changed my life. I needed a few days to get over the experience – in a positive sense 🙂

From then on, I wanted to be able to do what Marshall did, with the same ease and accuracy. Today, I would say he had the laserlike ability to penetrate all the layers of someone’s ego and see right to his core. And he saw something good in his core. He used to call it the force “that wants to contribute to life”. For him it was in everyone – even if hidden very far down!

Very briefly spoken empathy mainly consists of the second and third of the famous “four steps” of non-violent communication. Step two describes a person’s feelings, and step three identifies her needs.

When empathically listening to someone, I focus on asking about his feelings and needs in regard to a certain situation. I try to feel into the other one and then I check out whether  my impression is right.

An example:
Suppose a friend complains about her husband and says: “Oh man, I was out all night with him, and he only stared at his cell phone! He is totally antisocial!”
Empathic listening in this case could be questions like: “Are you sad about how things went (feeling)? You want more connection between the two, right?”

Let’s put this together to a quick guide for empathic listening:
1. Feel into the other person
2. Ask about her feelings
3. Ask about her needs

You don’t have to get the feeling and the need right. Just guess. What counts is your sincere intention to connect. Either you get a “Yes!” or a “No!”, and both is good. With a “no” in most cases the person tells you either what is really going on (e.g.: “No, I’m not sad, I’m disappointed!”), or you simply guess again.

It is also important that you don’t ask: “What are you feeling?” or “What do you need?”, but offer a specific feeling (“sad”, “angry”, “annoyed”, “frustrated”, “disappointed” etc.) and a specific need (“connection”, “community”, “belonging”, “appreciation”, “rest” etc.).
This makes it easier for the other person to get into contact with himself and keeps him from going into his head because he begins to think about what he might feel and need!

Basically, empathy is not difficult. What is often difficult though, is to stop falling back into our previous pattern of reaction to another’s emotional distress! The trick lies in just staying with the questions to resist the temptation to use one of the following things:
– Advice: “Do xyz!”
– Understanding: “I understand.” (I know this is supposed to be nice, but FEEL into it…does it really create connection?)
– Telling about yourself: “Oh yes, I know that, I had a very similar experience which was…!” (No! I know we all love speaking about ourselves, but right now the other needs your whole presence for herself. Please stay with her and don’t bring the focus to you!)
– Analysis: “This is the same pattern like with your father!”
– Feeling sorry: “Oh, that’s really bad! Poor you!”
– Know-it-all attitude: “I could have told you it would end like this!”

I’m not saying that all these things are “bad”. If you want to build a connection with someone and help him in an emotionally challenging situation though, then these strategies usually don’t serve the goal, because they draw attention away from where it is needed. Try out the difference!

And now the most important

The most important thing when giving empathy  is not getting the method right, but the inner attitude with which you meet the other.

This includes 5 things:
1. Non-judgment: Take to the other, as he is. Accept all his feelings and signal him to be no matter what emotional state it is and no matter what look like his thoughts.
(It is clear that you will be not always completely without judgment. But that doesn’t matter. Just be open for this, possibly with your judgment in addition to lie. Judgment not step into that, and not your behavior let him dictate!)
2. Benevolence: Believe that the others in the core is good. As Marshall always said: everyone wants to serve at any time always alive. Some people choose to just strategies that are painful for others, because they know no better. Be open to be sure that the good will show in the other, if he gets the opportunity, through his pain accompanied if someone else sees it as well. What do indeed! Keep active for the good intention in the other look. It’s there!
3. Connection first: Make the connection to the other person your top priority. Resist any temptation to want to convince him of something, to smuggle into advice in your conversation, or to want to have the conversation to a particular result. All of this would undermine the connection.Just be there for him!
4. Trust: Trust that the other knows what he needs and what is the solution to his situation. You do not have to tell him. In fact our solution proposals confuse others more often than that they help – unless unless the other asks.
Help him so, to find its own solution, and tell your opinion only when specifically prompted.
5. Listen to your inner voice: Exchanges with others are a dynamic process, and a tool out of a box is not always appropriate! Ask your intuition for help, to be as gentle as possible, and to be able to help the other as much as possible. And then trust yourself!

Thank you for reading this far! I am very happy about your interest in empathic listening, because I see it as making human interaction more beautiful, and I would like to contribute to that!

If you have any questions or comments, you can leave a message below or use our contact form!

I invite you to also read the related article: “Does empathic listening make a story true?

I wish you many moments of heart connection with empathic listening!

Kendra Gettel

P.S.: If you like this article, then share it but please via social media. Thank you!

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The realization that your Awakening is inevitable

Can awakening be difficult?

By "Awakening", we mean the awakening to our true, divine self. US itself no more than to identify the small, helpless ego-ego, but to recognize what is timeless, eternal self.

According to statements made by people who are already headed your way, our divine self through properties such as boundless joy and unconditional love is characterized. It sounds us well and safely for many a good part of the motivation to want to wake up. And many of us have had also briefly yourself moments of this insight. You too?

But so often seem to love and joy to be, we are the last. The whole awakened then just seem only nonsense to talk nonsense, which makes us angry and frustrated.

What they are seeing, seems unattainable for us. 

And this feels like "Out of reach" brings us directly to the bottom of the ego, which cleverly around us on the nose to make something very simple completely impossible. The ego does not want Yes that we wake up, because it would be his end!

But we think once quite logically:

Can awakening be really difficult?

When it comes to awaken what we are in truth and forever, to our essence rather than even fabricated, temporary identity of the everyday self, it must be simple. It can be not so difficult to see something what already is. It would, however, indeed difficult to see something what is not!

Awakening seems just so difficult because we associate with something of the love that is our own, which is separated from us. We think we should only "reach""" or "earn". Enough work to us, enough given, enough long meditate or study of spiritual wisdom, until it eventually makes "Click".

This is the fallacy that forever holding us in a State of searching, instead of letting us experience what we do so much want.

If we want to awaken, then we must turn our thinking, and assume that that's what we're looking for is already there.

Love is the creative force of the universe. She made us, so also we are love. When we love, then we are love always – and not only to comply with certain prerequisites. Now already!

You're already the love and the divine self, you're looking for. No matter whether you meditate or not. No matter whether you forgive or not. Whether you are doing yoga and read spiritual books just or not.

What you think "have to do", to awaken, does not apply.

Now maybe you're asking why you're awakened then not long ago?

Well, you've been there now and always strictly speaking. You don't notice it only, because your mental orientation is stubbornly focused on the world of the ego.

Nothing you need to do to achieve"the Awakening". But, you have to align your mental focus.
(It goes down further :-)).
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This text is the beginning of our free three-part mini course on faster awakening. Get part two and three by filling out this form *:  

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(Continuation text :))
Instead of, for example, to think about, why you always still not are awakened, you still have to – forgive whom or what it is, what swirls around in your mind…

…probiere yet again, what happens if you're thinking about following things and ask to knowledge of the truth:

1. I am love

2. No matter what has happened or is happening, nothing will change anything, I am love

3. Because I am love, nothing and no one can separate me from you – I can't seem to escape her. I can imagine only me, love be separated – and I've done that very successfully!

4. Love is something spiritual, not material. That's why I'm not material but spiritual, and I can therefore be not my body.

How are you, if you read these statements, and makes you seem?

(If you like, you can us report like this, we are pleased to hear from you! You can see this text leave a comment or use this contact form.)

Not purely intellectual exercise to remain to bring mental focus, as love. We can not cause think the awakening – but it is an experience. But this experience we can with our thinking – what we normally do – hinder or favour. And that's the point.

Similarly, we want to claim that awakening is easy and anyone who succeeds within a period of three days, is a loser. There is abundant internal resistance against the Wahrheit.Doch if we have once felt the truth and learn, quickly less resistance.

In three days, you will receive the next part of this course. Is going to be about, how you can feel the love in you.

Best regards and until next time,.

Armin & Kendra

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Image source: Pixabay

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The miraculous communication formula

The miraculous communication formula

Ever wondered how to talk about being triggered and how to address upsets without ending up in a downward spiral with the other person?
Try out our “miraculous communication formula”!

The “miraculous communication formula” consists of the following five steps:

  1. Your observation
  2. Your feeling
  3. Your interpretation of the situation
  4. Your willingness to be wrong about your interpretation
  5. Your request for support in understanding the situation correctly and seeing the other one as innocent

Let’s jump straight to an example of how to apply the formula in your everyday life. Imagine a couple, John and Linda. They have two kids.
Linda is upset. The trigger is that when she comes home from work shortly before dinner time, she sees that John hasn’t prepared dinner although he had promised to do so.

Linda’s observation would be: “You haven’t made dinner!”
Her feeling in the situation might be: “I am upset!”, “I am angry!” or “I am frustrated!” while she interprets “You don’t support me!”.

To express her upset and reconnect with John in a loving way, she could start with expressing these three:“John, when I see that you haven’t made dinner although you said you would, I am angry and I interpret that you don’t support me!”

Then comes the miracle part, her willingness to be wrong about her interpretation and her request for support: “Well, that you don’t support me cannot be true, because I know you do and show it on many occasions. Yesterday, for example, you fixed my bike. Would you help me see what is really going on here?

Get it? 🙂

To help you understand better what Linda is saying, why this works and how to apply it yourself, let us look at the five steps in more detail:

1. The observation

In the observation you describe what you see, hear or perceive otherwise through your five physical senses. What is happening? Stay with the facts. Imagine you are a video camera recording the situation, what could be seen and heard on the tape?
Make sure not to mix up observation and interpretation and to stay neutral. “You haven’t made dinner” or “Dinner is not ready” is an observation, “I can’t rely on you to make dinner” is an interpretation. There is room for your interpretion in step number three.

2. The feeling

Describe what you feel when you perceive what is going on. Stay with words that express pure feelings, like “angry”, “sad”, “afraid”, “frustrated”, “stressed”, “under pressure” or “upset”. Be aware that words like “misunderstood”, “attacked”, or “not cared for” actually don’t refer to feelings, but rather to interpretations. To fully connect to what is going on inside of you and to help the other person feel you, it is important to stay with the feelings and leave away any interpretations at this point.

3. The interpretation

We are used to thinking that we are upset because of something that is happening or has happened or something someone has done. But in truth we are upset because of what meaning we give it, or, in other words, our interpretation of what has happened or what the other person has done.
If we change the interpretation of the situation, the upset disappears.
In our example, Linda interprets that John doesn’t support her. Other common interpretations are “You don’t appreciate me”, “You don’t love me” or “You are attacking me”.

4. The willingness to see it differently

This is the turning point of the conversation, and the step that goes beyond what you have probably read about other communications models. The thing is: If you stop after step number three, the other person will still most likely get the impression of being blamed or attacked and strike back instead of helping you. But help is what you need and want right now, isn’t it?
The trick is to question the interpretation you have made in the step before and to actively look for proof that your interpretation might me wrong.

In the beginning though, when you are triggered and upset, this will feel like bullshitting yourself and like sacrificing yourself. The reason for this is your identification with the interpretation. So giving up the interpretation feels a little bit like dying. But this is not the case, as you will see. Right here, just do it anyway. Speak the words, even if you feel heavy resistance and are totally convinced to be right in your judgment!

All you need is a little willingness, an openness to another possibility that your blaming and guilt-assigning mind is offering you through its negative interpretation.
Let’s say for example that your interpretation is “You don’t love me”. Then add something like “…but that can’t be, because….” and see if you can even find proof.
The whole sentence would be like this: “I interpret that you don’t love me, but that can’t be, because you tell me every day that you love me, and you gave me a special treat for my birthday last month.”
Can you feel how your upset is already shifting?

By the way, if you can’t find any proof for being loved, then be transparent about: “I am having a hard time finding proof that you love me.”

5. Request for support

At this point, ask the other person what was really going on. We often interpret an action as against us that in truth had nothing to do with us or was a desperate attempt of the other person to take care of himself.
In our example of John and Linda John might have been busy tending to a crying child and just didn’t get round to dinner. Or something else happened. But most likely he did not think “Today I won’t support Linda and I want to upset her. I will not make dinner even though I said I would.”
You will get the other person’s support because of your willingness to see them as innocent, as taking care of themselves and not as attacking you.

All of us hate being blamed and being assigned guilt to. It makes us defensive and wanting to strike back. Yet, at the same time, this is what society teaches us. We are blaming and judging addicts! We haven’t learnt to speak about our feelings and needs any other way. No surprise that blaming and judging others is our first, knee-jerk reaction.
It takes time and conscious effort to overcome it, but you can do it, and you will do it, because you will love it as soon as you find out how much your relationships benefit from it. 🙂
Here are some examples which words to use in step number five:
“I want to stop blaming you for how I feel. Can you help me see that you didn’t mean this against me? What was really going on for you?”
“Can you help me see that you were doing the best you could?”
“Can you help me see again that you are a wonderful person and I love you?”

Please let us know how this is working for you. Shoot us an email or simply leave a comment below.
I can’t wait to hear about the exciting changes you are going to experience!

Thank you,

Kendra

P.S.: If you like this article, then please share it in order to bring about a worldwide communication revolution. I truly appreciate! Thank you! 🙂