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Check Out Chris Hartstein’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Chris Hartstein.

Hi Chris, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstories.
I’m on a mission to help parents avoid the pain of disconnection during their teen years.

It was through my own parenting journey that I discovered how focusing on feelings and needs can bring us together in ways that sharing thoughts alone cannot.

Inspired and encouraged by a teen, I lived with and one whom I met, I wrote and illustrated a simple book for children and young families to introduce the basics of compassionate connecting.

I believe the visual symbols can help us remember basic truths. Thoughts come and go, feelings come and go, and deep inside we all have the energy of our needs which connect to everything we feel and everything we do. This is as true for adults as it is for children!

It was the feeling of desperation and my need for support in my parenting that brought me together with Nonviolent Communication in 2013. Since that time, I have acquired more than 500 hours of NVC training. I credit this practice with repairing my relationship with my teen daughter, as well as improving my marriage. From the very first workshop I attended, I knew this learning would enhance my life.

I offer a weekly practice group through Capital NVC and dream that these sources of support will multiply in response to the world’s need for empathic listening and understanding. My vision is that anyone longing for connection will know that these relational skills exist and that they will have access to learning them just as I did.

Along with the book, I create empathy buddies, made of 100% wool and develop other materials that teachers can use along with the book to cultivate a compassionate classroom. I serve on the board of Capital NVC and volunteer with Heart to Heart, Inc. assisting in their parenting classes.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Not exactly smooth. I struggled with the writing of the book and got help (interesting intergenerational story there). I originally just wanted to do a whiteboard animation but consulted another teen who sent me in the doll’s direction.

I struggled with the attempt to make the doll head rotate until I finally realized I could make it double-sided. I struggled to get the pattern and fabric just right.

I’ve struggled to get my work recognized and in front of those who could use it best. I constantly struggle with self-doubt and push myself to do the things that don’t feel comfortable with. Like this!

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
I am most proud of the way I have distilled complex ideas that I learned through studying Nonviolent Communication and have presented them in a relatable graphic way.

What sets me apart from other depictions of our inner critics (fears, saboteurs, voices in our heads that keep us from living our best life) is that my image is integrated into a whole inner being that can be recognized as loveable no matter what face is facing you at the moment.

The cloudy side is not worse than but a constant part of the self which we shift in and out of as we think our thoughts and choose our actions.

Are there any important lessons you’ve learned that you can share with us?
Ha! Two heads are better than one and two hearts as well. I thrive in a collaborative environment and so working largely alone has been a challenge. The lesson is to reach out and ask for what you need!


  • $11.86 Book on Amazon or BookBaby.
  • $50 Book and empathy doll on Etsy.

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