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Feelings that blame?

"I feel abandoned!" a woman says to her partner. I watch her partner as he stiffens slightly and a wash of hurt comes over his face.

I had encouraged the woman to express her feelings. Her face and body expressed pain and frustration, but her words expressed an evaluation of her partner which was easy for him to hear as blame.

In Nonviolent Communication (NVC), we bring awareness to feelings and needs to create a quality of connection in which a natural giving of the heart arises.

I have heard folks say that they have tried expressing their feelings, but it didn't work. What I have often discovered in these cases is that feelings weren't actually expressed.

There is a long list of words in our language that pose as feelings, but are actually evaluations. Take a look at the list below. Do you see some words you have used recently?

Behind each of these words are precious feelings and needs.

Choose three of the words below that you have used recently. For each word name the feelings and needs that were alive in you with the expression of each.

For instance, in the example above, when the woman said she felt abandoned, you might guess she felt pain and frustration because she had needs for trust, integrity, and reliability.

abandoned abused accepted attacked
belittled betrayed blamed bullied
confined cheated coerced criticized
discounted distrusted disrespected dumped on
harassed ignored insulted interrupted
intimidated invalidated invisible isolated
judged left out manipulated misunderstood
neglected overpowered patronized pressured
provoked put down rejected ripped off
smothered taken advantage of threatened
trampled tricked unappreciated unheard
unloved unseen unsupported unwanted
used victimized violated wronged
Notice that all these words require the action of someone else. That's how you can tell these are evaluations rather than feelings.

Click on my website to download a list of feelings and needs

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4 Responses

  1. Sep 20, 2012

    I tried to go to the website and it said that the list of feelings and needs words were gone. I use to have a copy, but I can not find it.

    I found myself to be using a few of the evaluation words and I want to end that behavior.


  2. Sep 20, 2012
    Brenda Kleysen

    Thanks La Shelle- this was great! Your note really clicked with me- I know that there are thoughts that disguise as feelings and we want to stay in feelings ( and needs) . . . I didn't really, until now, think about the aspect of blame and evaluation part of these disguised feelings, and how they, of course, will block connection when the other person picks up on this . . . I guess we all as human beings will become defensive if we hear blame or judgement or think we are being evaluated and not just accepted . . . these disguised feelings are not just "thoughts" I think you for this clarity and for another move forward for me in conscioucness .... Really looking forward to the workshop Costa Rica!


  3. Sep 30, 2012

    Hi Kathy,

    The list is still there. It is a pdf at the top of this page:

  4. Sep 30, 2012

    Your welcome Brenda. Glad this was useful.

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