Searching within helps us to identify our feelings and thoughts and to understand ourselves better. Do you wake up angry and do not know what is wrong with you? Frustration overwhelms you. Are you irritated and don’t know where these feelings come from? Maybe it’s one of those days when the world eats you instead of you eating the world.
Self-empathy are the glasses we need to read closely what happens to us inside. It helps us understand our needs, the reactions and the responses we give to the situations we encounter on a daily basis.
Self-empathy is listening to the feelings that arise, recognizing what generates them and speaking to us with understanding, kindness and encouraging us to look for options to our measure to accept or change what we choose.
From the knowledge of our whys we can meet the needs we have to be aligned with the body, mind and feelings.
We look around looking for culprits.
We look for reasons for our anger and unload frustrations on other people who have been unlucky enough to pass us by at that time.
We seldom dig into ourselves to discover what is cooking inside. Feelings are an alert notification of our emotional state that invites us to stop and observe ourselves. The book “The Art of Empathy“, through its empathic gymnastics method, helps us to identify and observe feelings and thoughts to understand ourselves better.
Marshal Rosenberg, creator of the concept of non-violent communication and mediator in numerous international conflicts says:
“I invite you to cross the greatest distance that a man / woman has ever traveled; the distance that exists between his head and his heart”.
Intrusive thoughts are those that creep into our minds and have a negative nature. We beat ourselves up. It is the story that we tell ourselves, the script of the situation that we have created in our head.
We can choose what we think and no matter how much our mind throws at us options of thoughts, it does not mean that we have to believe them squarely or keep them. We can choose. Deciding how we think changes how we see reality around us.
It is not reality that changes, but how we decide to look at it.
THE STORY OF THE MILKMAID
We tend to think about the consequences. We think about what is going to happen next: what will my boss say when I ask for a raise? How will my partner take it when I tell him I don’t want to go to dinner on Friday?
The German writer Eckhart Tolle, in his essay “The Power of Now”, tells us that only in the now can we choose, we can decide what we think. Outside of the present we can do nothing, because nothing happens in the past or in the future.
We make our story of the particular milkmaid who lives in the world of thoughts.
Understanding where we start from, what is the option that makes us feel good, how we want to do things and what we need to return to our balance space is vital to be empathetic with ourselves.
THE OUTSIDE OBSERVER
Observing a situation from the outside brings us closer to self-empathy. Being able to see that we have the right to feel frustrated or angry without judging ourselves. Speak to each other with respect in our internal dialogue, letting the feeling guide us towards the origin. What makes us feel this way? What if it depends on us? What can we do about it?
Observe your reality as if it were someone else’s. In the distance between you and your thoughts is the answer you need. Objectivity is possible in observation.
WHAT KEEPS YOU FROM SELF-EMPATHY?
Thinking that we are victims of a situation leads us to impotence. We feel that we cannot do anything to change reality.
They take us away from self-empathy:
- Intrusive thoughts.
- Comparison with others.
- The toxic internal speech.
- Script a reality that has not happened yet.
- Find culprits in the situation.
- Avoid responsibility.
4 STEPS TO TRADE FRUSTRATION FOR EMPATHY
To enter that self-empathy so necessary for well-being, whenever you have an intrusive thought, take a pencil and paper and analyze it by doing this 4-step exercise recommended by Rachel Hanna, Director of North Brisbane Psychologists in Australia:
- What do you say to yourself
- How do you feel when you tell yourself
- Why do you need to tell yourself that
- What a bad bodily feeling thinking that makes you
To do this exercise, write down the following on a piece of paper:
Intrusive thinking: _______
- When I tell myself______ (Fill in with a criticism. That story you tell yourself in your head)
- I feel_______
- Because I want / need / value_______
- I feel in my_______ (Where in your body do you feel it?)
Then fill it in (you can follow this example):
Intrusive thinking: I should exercise more
- When I tell myself I should exercise more I think I’m lazy and I have the time to do it but I never do.
- I feel frustrated, tired, without strength.
- Because I need to feel good about my physique, with my appearance.
- I feel a pressure in my A ball of anxiety that goes with nothing.
In this example, the need is to feel good about your physique and appearance. Perhaps the solution to feel good is not viable, you do not want to put it into practice. The solution may have become too complicated and we are trying to arrive at an ideal of how it should be done. Perhaps looking for an option that is feasible is the first step on the road. It is not laziness, and we do have the time but perhaps we do not want to invest it in other activities.
Feeling good about yourself might be taking the stairs instead of taking the elevator, or maybe walking your commutes to work instead of taking the subway, or getting off one stop earlier and walking those ten minutes each day. Making an investment in wellness and encouraging ourselves instead of telling ourselves a frustrating story every day of why we don’t help us take responsibility and find what meets the need in the best way possible by being understanding, being empathetic.
The cheerleader of the head looks for solutions. The critic is only looking for trouble.