Why I Love the Empathy Gym

Okay okay, I know this seems like a sales pitch-y thing, and I promise you that while this *might* get The Bigbie Method some new empathy gym members, my intention for this is to simply share why I love the Empathy Gym (or EG for short) because unless they’ve been in regular sessions, I don’t think people really understand how cool it is.

Yes. That is a judgment. And yes, I am sticking with it.

Let me explain what the Empathy Gym even is. But first, I have to tell you about the Intro Course.

The Bigbie Method offers an Intro Training to Nonviolent Communication. This is an 8 week course in which people learn all about NVC and the different aspects of it like how to give empathy to others and self, how to speak in OFNR (observations, feelings, needs, requests), how to handle triggering situations, and why this way of communicating provides more emotional safety than all the other ways we typically respond. I love this course, and I love teaching this course, because there are always those “aha!” moments for people, and the rate of learning and growth is really quite exponential at this stage. However, it is called an “Intro” course for a reason. One does not become an NVC expert after these 8 weeks. In fact, sometimes people get frustrated because they have graduated from unconsciously unskilled to consciously unskilled, and that can be disheartening if there is no opportunity to work on those skills.

Enter the Empathy Gym. This is a place where people who have at least an introductory knowledge of NVC can come together and practice actually using NVC with each other under the guidance of a trained and skilled facilitator. Sounds simple, right? Well, the concept is, but what actually happens in there often far surpasses an experience of mere learning – at least for me.

Why I love the Empathy Gym

Okay, reason number one: I always learn something. Now, in case it wasn’t already clear, I am one of those “trained and skilled facilitators” who run these EG sessions. I have been doing this for a couple of years now, and in pretty much every single empathy gym session I facilitate, I learn something from the people in it. My experience with and understanding of NVC is constantly deepening. I love that there is this seemingly ever-flowing fountain of knowledge to drink from when it comes to NVC. There is always more beauty and wonder to soak in, I just have to be open to it.

Secondly, I walk away feeling invigorated and refreshed. I’ll be frank, there are days in which I am not super jazzed about facilitating an EG. Sometimes I just have low energy, or I am frustrated, or sick, or you name it, and I don’t really want to log on and do the thing… but, every time I feel this way and facilitate anyway, I always walk away feeling invigorated and refreshed. I think it has to do with shared reality, and most importantly, emotional safety. I can show up feeling whatever it is I’m feeling, and I know I can be authentic about that. There is an acceptance that I am a human who experiences the gamut of human emotion just like anyone else.That acceptance alone is the first step to a full turn-around. Then, I get to have

an experience of being totally and completely heard by someone else who is actively listening to me with presence and care, regardless of what I choose to share with them, whether it be about my existential struggles with motherhood or my breakfast. And I also get to contribute to others in the same way, which really fills my cup, personally. To top it off, there’s that learning piece, which somehow never ceases to amaze me. So by the end of those 75 minutes, I have been deeply heard and cared for, I’m inspired by it, and I celebrate growth and connection – all leaving me with those feelings of refreshment and invigoration. It is really quite neat.

Finally, I have community in EG. Community has always been so important to me. It has been one of my deepest core needs for as long as I can remember. Community nourishes me in ways that most other things cannot, and I am so grateful to have found community within NVC via The Bigbie Method and the Empathy Gym. It is funny: even though I have never seen the majority of the other people in EG in person, and probably never will, I often feel a closeness with them akin to a trusted friend or sibling. There is so much safety within the EG because we are all using and growing in NVC, which is based in emotional safety and connection. There’s trust, and knowing, and understanding, and respect… all because we are working towards similar goals of self-growth, and practicing our skills with each other. There is also something comforting about having a group of other people who just get it. They get the frustrations of trying to stay in integrity with NVC while triggered, or while talking to someone who has no clue how or capacity to give empathy. They understand the authentic connection that happens between two people when there is an experience of being truly seen and heard without judgment. Even now as I’m writing this, I’m noticing that these words sound all well and good, but there really is a huge difference between conceptually understanding what I’m saying versus experiencing the same level of shared reality. It is something that only community provides, and this community in particular is quite special to me.

So there it is. My love for the Empathy Gym in words. If you’ve been in EG with me at any point at all, thank you. Truly. And if you are interested in experiencing this kind of safety, learning, growth, and community within Nonviolent Communication, consider joining us! You can check out the Intro to NVC course here. If you’ve already taken it and want the Empathy Gym experience, shoot us an email and we can set you up! support@thebigbiemethod.com

And if you are already an Empathy Gym member, I would LOVE to know what you love about the Empathy Gym. Why do you keep coming back? Please share in the comments!