NVC, Nurturing and Needs
Putting your hand on your heart releases oxytocin, also known as and explained by Medical News Today as the "...hug hormone, cuddle chemical, moral molecule, and the bliss hormone...". I've started doing this once a day for 30 seconds along with getting curious about my needs and feelings in that particular moment. This practice allows me to connect to my needs and reminds me that I am human being and require nurturing and love to survive and thrive. I invite you to do the same and share what comes up for you either on this blog or on Facebook. #selfcompassion
I haven't placed my hand on my heart since I was in middle school saying the Pledge of Allegiance to the United States of America. I stopped doing this in high school because I was uncertain if I wanted to vow any allegiance to anything other than the cd's I owned, my best friend, and my 1972 Volkswagon Beetle. So why would I do it now? I had an incredible experience while I was in therapy about a year ago. I was discussing some troubling situation with my therapist of which the details are unmemorable and unimportant when she told me to grab the pillow next to me and hug it. I thought this was absurd, but I was willing to try it because in that moment I felt downright crummy. I gave that shiny purple pillow a hug and started to cry. Later in the session I asked my therapist, "What was that all about?" She told me I was being really hard on myself. I was blaming, shaming, and self-deprecating who I am. She also explained that touching my heart released oxytocin and was a move towards self-compassion. That feeling of self-love and self-worth was opening my heart to a tenderness I hadn't been in touch with in a while. My therapist then asked me to practice saying this to myself, "Kat, I am worthy of love." I couldn't do it. I choked on my tears and just couldn't get the words out. I did not believe that I was worthy of love. So my therapist gave me homework - to place my hand on my heart every day for as long as I wanted and to tell myself that I am worthy of love.
This all happened about two years ago. I stopped going to therapy a year ago and have since forgotten to intentionally place my hand on my heart. Later while in an NVC retreat, I witnessed myself place my hand on my chest and move it around in small circles when I am talking about something difficult. Now I know that this small movement is a signal, a tell-tale sign that I am in pain and in need of empathy and care.
- Throughout the week, pay attention to particular moments of difficulty throughout the day. What gestures do you make? Do you rub your forehead or bite your nails?
- Next, notice whether this gesture brings you comfort or makes matters worse. Is there a different kind of gesture you can replace the old gesture with that soothes and relaxes you? You can try my gesture of gently rubbing your chest or come up with a new one that works for you.
- The next time you have a difficult moment, try one of these new gestures and guess what need you have that's not being fulfilled in that moment.
Note: Kat makes no claim that any of this is The Truth for anyone else. She writes to keep up her practice of NVC skills, which are always evolving, and to share her learning with others. This post may change at a later date. If you have any questions or comments about this post, Kat welcomes your feedback.