Monday, September 14, 2009

Giving Yourself Empathy

Giving Yourself Empathy

Learning to give yourself empathy is an essential skill of spiritual intelligence and maturity. Others may not always be there for you while you process your pain, but you can always be there for yourself. The inner skill of self-empathy allows you to stay centered and balanced in stressful interpersonal conflict situations.

Whenever you find yourself triggered by someone’s behavior, stop to give yourself empathy. If you cannot do it on the spot, freeze frame the moment and give yourself some belated empathy later. Listen for your feelings and unmet needs.

Self-empathy requires us to stop and be fully present to our internal experience. The essence of empathy is non-verbal. It is not thinking about what we are feeling. It is feeling what we are feeling, and being open to allow whatever flood of sensations is present without either shrinking away from it, trying to change it, or going up to our heads with it.

Self-empathy is not a quick fix; it is a process which may take time, and when allowed to come to completion will lead to personal growth, to higher and better ways of being in life. The integration (digestion, processing) of negative emotions leads to wholeness.

Self-empathy is full presence and acceptance of whatever feelings exist without either pushing them away (denying) or hanging on to them (prolonging). Wallowing is not being present to our feelings, but consists of prolonged thinking about them or about the circumstances that triggered us. Each of us needs to experiment and discover the nature of PRESENCE, of being present to feelings as opposed to denying or indulging them.

There is a powerful psychological principle at work here :
What you resist ( reject, disown, deny, push away, repress, suppress) persists.
What you accept ( allow, receive, embrace, open to, soften around)
Examples: Anger becomes backbone; grief becomes compassion; fear becomes sensitivity, etc.

Self empathy is an aspect of conscious suffering. Conscious suffering erodes the ego and allows more of the luminosity of our true original nature of unconditional love to shine through.

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