Free worksheets and journalling guides

Self-Judgments: Mourning and Self-Compassion

1. Think of something you’ve done that you feel regret about. Write down what it is in observations (without judgments).

2. What are judgments you have of yourself in relation to what you’ve done? Write them down, as much as possible without editing.

Mourning:

3. How do you feel in relation to what you did? Notice and note both emotions and physical sensations in your body.

4. What needs of yours were not met?

5. Take a moment to breathe and check in with yourself. Do you notice more judgments? If yes, write them down.

6. Again, identify feelings and needs behind these judgments. Pause each time you identify a feeling or a need to experience it as much as possible.

Self-Compassion:

7. Now shift your attention to the needs you were trying to meet when you did the thing you’ve regretted. Write them down and spend time connecting with them. You may also recall feelings from that time.

8. How do you feel as you notice the needs you were trying to meet? Again, connect as much as you can with both emotions and physical sensations.

9. Take a moment to breathe and check in with yourself again. How are you feeling now? What needs are met or not met in this moment?

10. Do you have any requests of yourself at this moment that may support you in meeting your needs?

11. If you notice any self-judgments arise, connect once again with the feelings and needs behind them. Continue to shift back and forth between mourning and self-compassion until the mourning is free from self-judgments.

Self-Connection in the Moment:

12. Read through all of the needs you have identified and connected with so far. Are there any needs of yours that are met by connecting with your needs right now? Is there any internal shift in your energy about the judgment? Any learning for you?

13. If the judgment still seems as alive to you, consider the following question: Which needs of yours are you trying to meet by holding on to the judgment you have of yourself? How do you feel when you connect with these needs?

14. Connect with your feelings and needs in this moment. Do you have any requests of yourself in this moment? Any insights that you want to jot down to remember?

Feedback without Criticism

Who is someone to whom you would like to give feedback? How do you envision securing their agreement to receive it?

What are the 3 most significant pieces of evaluation you imagine would be a contribution to this person?

For each of the above, think of at least 2 observations that lead you to this conclusion, and link each of these observations to why it matters (i.e., the need that’s at stake).

For each of the above, think of at least one suggestion you can provide this person to shift their behavior in such a way that it’s more likely to support what matters to you (or others, depending on context, e.g., in an organization).

Choice: Opening to “Yes”

Think of a situation in which you were drawn to saying “no” to someone’s request. For purposes of this journal, what you chose to say in the end is not the essential component. All that is important is that the initial reaction was a “no.” Write down the situation and request, then explore your responses to the following questions (Note: this is a 2-page worksheet).

The situation and the request that was made of you:

What feelings and needs are you noticing in relation to the request?

What are you telling yourself (what are you thinking, or what are judgments you’re having) about the request and/or about yourself or the other person that is leading you to experience a “no”?

What needs of yours are giving rise to these thoughts? What needs are you hoping to meet by saying “no”? What feelings are you noticing coming up in relation to each of these needs?

What is your understanding of the other person’s feelings and needs that led to their request? Pause here, and take a moment to connect with this person’s needs as separate from their specific strategies and the request that was made of you. Can you open your heart to the needs?

If you are struggling to keep your heart open, what are you telling yourself about yourself or the other person that’s keeping you from opening your heart? What needs are giving rise to these thoughts? Take a moment to connect fully with these needs, and explore whether this full self- connection is sufficient to create an opening.

When you consider saying “no” to the request, what feelings and needs come up?

When you consider saying “yes” to the request, what feelings and needs come up?

Can you imagine other strategies that would meet their needs other than your saying “yes”?

When you imagine that the other person’s needs would not be met, what are your feelings and needs?

When you consider again the original request, how do you feel and what needs do you notice?

How did you respond at the time? What needs were you attempting to meet by your response?

How do you imagine you would respond to the request now, and what feelings and needs come up in relation to this response?

If you are still finding a “no,” check to see whether you are fully connected with your own and the other person’s needs. If you find any obstacle, go back to your responses, and take additional time to connect with and open your heart to all your needs as well as the needs of the other person. The point of this journal is not necessarily to reach a “yes,” but rather to support you in reaching a “yes” or a “no” from a fully connected place.

What is alive in you right now (your feelings and needs)?

Needs: Layers of Self-Connection

Think of a time when you were angry, dissatisfied, disappointed, or had some judgment of another person (in other words, a time when your needs were not met). Write a brief description of the situation. (Alternately, begin this exploration at step 3 with a need that is often not met to your satisfaction instead of a specific situation.)

What were you feeling at the time?

What was your need at the time?

Take a few moments to fully connect with this need. Notice any feelings that arise as you connect with this need. Are these feelings different from the ones you experienced at the time?

While staying connected with this need, explore: If this need were met, what need would that meet? (or: What would it give me if this need were met? Or: What’s important to me about having this need met? etc)

Now connect fully with this new need you have just identified. What feelings arise now? Are these feelings different from the ones you experienced at the time, or in step 5?

Repeat steps 5 and 6, descending through the layers of needs, until you experience a sense of full connection with yourself, or some inner release. What’s alive now?

Do you have any insights from doing this journal that you would like to write down? Anything you’ve learned? Any requests of yourself?

Needs: Facets of Self-Connection

Purpose: This guided reflection is intended to support you in experiencing a variety of ways to connect with your needs, which you can use at any time in your daily life. People resonate differently with these different ways. You may want to explore each of these to see which support you in gaining more self-connection and inner freedom. You can use these reflections as a series or separately from each other.

Focus your attention on a need that is not met to your satisfaction in your life. Put your focus specifically on the unmet quality of this need. You can say to yourself: “My need for ____ is not met,” and repeat this phrase until you are fully connected with the experience of the unmet need. (You might want to close your eyes and focus inwardly while you do this.) What sensations do you notice in your body? What feelings arise?

Now shift your attention to the need itself. Not to the idea of having the need met, but to the need itself; to the fact of having a need. You can say to yourself: “I have a need for _____,” and repeat this phrase until you are fully connected with the experience of having the need. (You might want to close your eyes and focus inwardly while you do this.) What sensations do you notice in your body? What feelings arise?

Now shift your attention to the met quality of the need. What is it like for you when this need is met? You can imagine this need met, and say to yourself: “My need for _____ is met,” and repeat this phrase until you are fully connected with the experience of having this need met. (You might want to close your eyes and focus inwardly while you do this.) What sensations do you notice in your body? What feelings arise?

Last, shift your attention to the need as a presence you want to encounter (another meaning of “meet”). This is similar to focusing on the need without it being met or unmet, but may be experienced differently. Focus on what it is like to meet this need in the sense of encountering it fully. You might say to yourself: “Hello, _____. Welcome,” and repeat this phrase until you are fully connected with the experience of having encountered this need. (You might want to close your eyes and focus inwardly while you do this.) What sensations do you notice in your body? What feelings arise?

Note any insight from the shift in focus, and or any needs met by the experience.

Consider: When would you want to engage with each of these ways of experiencing your needs? How might each serve you? What needs would you want to meet through this focus?

Do you have any requests of yourself?

Self-Judgments: Working with Our “Limitations”

Keys

a. Whenever our capacity in a certain area is not matching our desire, we face a dual challenge:
b. How to increase our self-acceptance.
c. How to stretch and grow in our capacity.
d. Connecting fully with all our needs enables us to meet needs for self-acceptance, understanding and connection, so that any effort to grow arises from clear connection with needs instead of any notion that we “should” be different from how we are.

Journalling
  1. Write down a judgment that you have of yourself in relation to your overall capacities. (E.g.: “I am too stupid to do math” or “I never care enough about other people” or “I am clumsy and ungraceful” or “I am disorganized and never get anything done.”)
  2. What needs or dreams does this judgment point to? (E.g.: creativity and ease, care and generosity, grace and beauty, focus and attention). For each need or dream that you write down, take a moment to connect fully with the need independently of whether that need will ever be met. What feelings arise when you allow yourself to touch the longing for this need? Stay with this activity until you sense a settling inside yourself. You may want to use the “Deepening Needs Consciousness” worksheet to go deeper into self-connection in relation to these needs.
  3. What situation in particular triggers this judgment? Please be specific. (E.g. “Yesterday someone explained to me how to calculate interest on a loan, and I didn’t understand anything she said.” Or “My friend called me for support with a difficult situation, and I noticed that I wasn’t interested in what he had to say.” Or “I tripped on the dance floor last time I went dancing.” Or “I set out to organize my room yesterday, and it took me 3 hours to get through one small pile of papers.”)
  4. Do you notice any contraction inside of you when you focus your attention on the observation above? Any “should?” Are you comparing yourself with other people whose habits or capacities are different from yours? Notice and write down any feelings and needs that arise in you in relation to this contraction, comparison, or “should.” Take a moment to connect fully with any need you discover before shifting to another need.
  5. Reflect on your feelings, needs, and any requests you have of yourself in this moment.

Self-Connection: Anger

KEYS:
a. Anger usually involves some judgment, and noticing the judgment can help us see where we are blaming others for our feelings instead of taking responsibility for them.
b. Thoughts that often lead to anger include “should,” “right/wrong,” “fault,” etc. These thoughts are the actual cause of the anger.
c. Fully connecting with the deeper need underlying the anger can enable us to transform the anger and to experience release without requiring the other person to do anything about it.
d. We can express our anger fully and with intensity while still taking responsibility for our feelings by expressing the depth of our feelings and needs, instead of remaining at the level of judgments.
e. Once connected with the depth of our own experience, we can reach for an understanding of the other person’s experience, the feelings and needs underlying the actions or words that were the stimulus of our anger. This enables us to re-establish connection with our own and the other person’s humanity.
1. Think of something that you are angry about and write down the situation the way you would describe it to an understanding friend.
2. Now look at what you wrote, and write down in pure observation language what the other person did. (identifying the stimulus for anger)
3. What are you telling yourself are the reasons for your anger? (recognizing thoughts and judgments as the cause of anger)
4. What needs of yours are not being met in that situation? (connecting with the root of anger)
5. When you focus your attention on those needs, what other feelings come up? (Noticing complexity of emotions underneath anger)
6. Imagine what feelings and needs the other person is expressing in the action or words that were the stimulus for your anger, and write them down. (Empathy)
7. Focus your attention on your needs, and the needs of the other person. Notice how you are feeling at this moment. Are you still angry? If so, repeat this process starting at step 3.
8. If you have gone back more than once, ask yourself what need(s) of yours you are meeting by “choosing” to respond with anger.
9. Now focus again on all the needs you have identified in yourself, including in particular this last one, and check again what your feelings are.
10. Take a moment to write down any insights, learning, ideas, feelings and needs that arise in response to this process.

Choice: Taking Responsibility for Our Actions

Keys
  1. Like every other action, actions which we take because we think we “have to” are also attempts to meet needs.
  2. Recognizing the needs that lead us to choose to take those actions can free us to decide how we want to act, and at the very least to recognize that we have a choice in all our actions.
  3. Taking responsibility for our actions supports our movement toward self-empowerment and having relationships free from blame and guilt.
Journalling
  1. Write down an action that you are telling yourself you have to do or that you think have no choice about.
  2. What are the consequences you are trying to avoid by taking this action?
  3. What are the needs you are trying to meet by taking this action? Take a moment to connect in full with each need you discover before proceeding to another need. In particular, separate each need from the specific strategy of avoiding consequences, and from whether or not the need is ultimately met by the action you are taking. Simply connect with each need you are attempting to meet.
  4. What needs are not met by taking this action? Again, take a moment to connect in full with each need you discover before proceeding to another need, and separate it from the action you are taking. You may discover some of the same needs as in question 3, since the attempt to meet some needs may not be successful.
  5. Bring your awareness to all the needs you identified in the previous two questions, independently of whether or not they are met. How are you feeling when you focus on all the needs? Stay with this until you reach full connection with yourself in relation to all the needs you identified.
  6. Check in with yourself: do you want to choose to keep taking the original action? If yes, write down what needs you would be attending to by continuing to take the action. If no, do you have other strategies that you believe might meet your needs better?
  7. How are you feeling at this moment and what needs are you aware of?

Gratitude and Appreciation in NVC

a. Judging people or things as “good” or “right” is not different in essence from judging them as “bad” or “wrong” – they belong to the same paradigm, and our evaluation can easily shift from “good” to “bad.” Translating our positive evaluations into NVC frees us from this paradigm and from the role of “judge.”
b. When we enjoy something or are grateful, expressing what needs of ours are met can be powerful and deeply satisfying to others and to ourselves.
c. By expressing our observations, feelings and needs instead of complimenting or praising, we contribute to meeting others’ needs for intrinsic motivation and for contribution.
d. It is often challenging for people to receive appreciations. To support the likelihood that your appreciation will be taken in by the other person, include a connection request with your expression. You could either ask for a reflection to ensure that the person heard the appreciation without any judgment, or to hear what it was like for this person to receive your appreciation to support full connection between you.
e. You can also do the exact same thing with yourself: what have you done that you are grateful for and what needs were met?
1. Think of something someone in your life has done which has affected your life in a way that you feel grateful for, OR, think of something someone in your life has done which you have complimented or might compliment them for. Express your gratitude or “praise” in NVC:
a. What did the person do?
b. How do you feel in relation to what he or she did?
c. Which needs of yours were met by this action?
d. How would you express this appreciation in your own words including a connection request?

Self-Connection: Authenticity and Vulnerability

For writing, reflection, buddy conversations or real life

1. Exploring the choice not to share full honesty
a. Write down something you wish you could say to someone in your life, but for whatever reason you’ve chosen not to say it. Try not to edit it into “NVC language” or in any other way. Just write exactly what comes to mind or heart.
b. What needs are you trying to meet by not sharing this with the person?
c. What needs are you not meeting by not sharing this? Or in other words, what needs might be met by sharing it?
d. Now imagine sharing this with the person (in NVC). Notice what feelings come up, and what needs those feelings are connected to that you imagine would be met or unmet.
e. How do you feel and what needs arise after exploring these questions? Do you want to continue with the choice you have made or choose differently? (If any self-judgments arise, go into self-empathy for both the needs met and unmet with your choices.)
2. Giraffe “lies”
Think of a situation in which you chose to use NVC but the words didn’t match your internal experience. In writing or with a partner (could be an empathy buddy if you have one), role play the situation and get more authentic, still taking full responsibility for your feelings and needs, but choose more honesty than you did previously.

3. Jackal honesty vs. giraffe honesty
Think of a situation in which you have been honest with someone about something difficult, but you shared more of your evaluations/judgments than your feelings and needs. In writing or with a partner (could be an empathy buddy if you have one), get more vulnerable/honest about the feelings and needs behind whatever honesty you shared, and consider what requests you might have that may support more connection and honesty in this situation.