Why do we do what we do?

Understanding what motivates our behaviour and actions

Dear reader,

In a few days’ time, I’ll be leaving to the NVC India Convention in Panchgani.This residential community event is now over 10 years old—and is a great way to learn NVC (whether you’re new to it or have been practicing it for a while), build connections with other practitioners, and experience this new way of living.

A request

I’m also in the process of planning my workshops for the coming months. Please take a moment to answer the poll below to help me make my plans:

If you have a specific theme/topic you’d like to learn more about, please write to me so I can keep it in mind!

Now, on to the theme of this fortnight’s newsletter.With warm regards,


Understanding why we do what we do

Most of us have been told—implicitly and explicitly—that we do what we do is because of one or more of the following reasons:

  • Some things are right, and some things are wrong/ some things are good and others bad, and we are told to choose the ‘right’ thing to do

  • That there are some things we do because of who we are; and labels become our identity

  • That there are certain things we ‘have to’ or ‘should’ do

But learning about my needs helped me see this so differently.

A core principle of the NVC framework is that every single thing we do (or don’t do), every single thing we say (or don’t say) is an attempt to meet a need.

Here’s what changes when we begin seeing things this way:

  • First, we know what our needs are, we can begin choosing strategies that are more effective at meeting them.

  • Second, when we take this approach, we begin to reclaim choice; we no longer are reliant on people, implicit messages or rules to tell us what to do.

  • Third, when we understand ourselves this way, we can have compassion for ourselves even when we do something that we later regret.

It can also help us connect with others—even when we disagree, or when they do or say things we wouldn’t.

Additional resources:

Video of the fortnight