Deep Connection (Part 2):

Earth-Rooted Universal Human Needs

self-empathy opens you to the world!

· NVC,Conscious Living

In the previous post “Deep Connection”, I mentioned how connection in Nonviolent Communication (NVC) starts inside ourselves by connecting to our universal human needs — the life energy in us seeking fulfillment. That by acknowledging our needs through NVC self-empathy, a natural curiosity and compassion toward everything outside ourselves, including other people and the “more-than-human” world emerges.

Without the conscious acknowledgement of our needs, we’re likely to remain stuck in our strategies — what we use and choose habitually to meet our needs — anything associated with a Person, Location, Action, Time, Object (PLATO) is deemed a strategy in NVC. The strategies we’re accustomed to might not be supporting our own well-being or living the fullest life possible (e.g. we might not be reaching our highest potential, or we might be engaging in behaviors that are killing the planet).

The practice of self-empathy is foundational for our connection to beings outside ourselves and the more-than-human world because it makes doing so natural. Instead of trying to force ourselves to do “what is right” out of guilt, duty, obligation or to buy someone else’s affection, we open up the door to do things that support life because it flows authentically from within — i.e. we find it pleasurable and congruent with our inner-being to connect with others and the more-than-human world — to see, acknowledge and imagine their needs as being closely affiliated with our own.

Considering others and the more-than-human world flows from the acknowledgement of our own life energy seeking fulfillment — as we become consciously aware and accept the truth of what is flowing within us, a natural compassion and curiosity focused outside ourselves emerges. It is life that is expressing itself through us, and thus life is naturally extending our concept of self to include our community of beings and the environment that we depend on. Not only do we depend on the natural environment that surrounds us, we are part of it.

John Seed, director of the Rainforest Information Center in Australia, when asked “How do you deal with the despair?” He replied, “I try to remember that it’s not me, John Seed, trying to protect the rain forest. Rather, I am part of the rain forest protecting itself. I am that part of the rain forest recently emerged into human thinking.” [1]

In my study of NVC, which Marshall Rosenberg called “a language of life,” I came upon a “Needs Wheel” by NVC Trainers Jim and Jori Manske which had a natural symmetry and clustering of needs that seemed important to me (my mind searches for patterns to associate with other patterns to support my learning). Over several years of modifying a clustering of needs to suit my way of thinking, the wheel evolved into the metaphor of a flower rooted in the Earth. The Earth-Rooted Needs Flower shown below is an important part of my NVC practice because it visually shows our rootedness in nature and the interconnectedness of life to the more-than-human world. [2]

click for PDF download of Heart-Canvas Feelings and Needs

We are awakening to a deeper understanding of our own humanity; that we are intricately derived from an evolving planet, we continue to be part of it, and we are utterly dependent on its health and well-being — which is inextricably tied to our own survival. To harm the Earth is to harm ourselves.

It seems appropriate to close this post with words by Earth elder Joanna Macy.

"By expanding our self-interest to include other beings in the body of Earth, the ecological self also widens our window on time. It enlarges our temporal context, freeing us from identifying our goals and rewards solely in terms of our present lifetime..."

"Thus the greening of the self helps us to reinhabit time and own our story as life on Earth... Beneath the outer layers of our neocortex and what we learned in school, that story is in us -- the story of a deep kinship with all life, bringing strengths that we never imagined. When we claim this story as our innermost sense of who we are, a gladness comes that will help us to survive." [1]


[1] Excerpts from “The Greening of the Self” by Joanna Macy, from the collection of essays in “Spiritual Ecology - THE CRY of the EARTH” edited by Llewelyn Vaughan-Lee, pp. 153-164

[2] Blog post "Rooted-Earth Needs Flower - a framing metaphor for life" accessible at


© 2023 Jaime L. Prieto, Jr.,, All Rights Reserved.