Self-Empathy and Still Stuck
Sometimes even when you have taken the time to folllow the steps of self-empathy, you find yourself still stuck. While self-empathy doesn't necessarily leave you feeling happy, you can expect to feel some sort of movement, release, or softening. Below are the basic steps in self-empathy.
1. You get clear on the observation – what actually happened that triggered a reaction in you.
2. You allow ample time and space for feelings. You label them and accept the experience of them in your heart and body.
3. You identify needs.
4. You come up with requests, first for yourself then the other person.
If you have gone through these steps and still you are swirling in hurt, anger, or depression, it is helpful to look for the presence of jackals lurking just under your radar. Critical voices or "jackals" can keep you stuck in a particular feeling or mind state if they are not addressed.
Feelings of despair, guilt, anger, resentment, shame, and depression are feelings that arise out of a critical internal voice. These feelings are alarms letting you know that you are in reaction to a critical voice and there are important needs up for you.
Jackals usually include these words or phrases: I should(n't) have. . ., he was wrong to. . ., how could she. . . , he's a (pick your judgment) person, it shouldn't be like this, it's hopeless, if you would just…!, etc.
Jackals are important messengers about feelings and needs alive in you. They will likely continue talking until those feelings and needs are recognized and experienced.
Sometimes these jackals take on air of self-importance and are convinced that it's essential for them to keep screaming at you in order to meet your needs.
This is what I call habit energy jackals. Habit energy jackals don't have a discerning wisdom about what's really helpful. What they do have is a lot of momentum. They have the fuel of you buying into them and reacting from them time and time again.
Your work here is first to just to listen to these jackals. Believing them literally, allowing them to repeat themselves again and again, or acting from them gives them fuel.
Of course, listening to your jackals requires your conscious awareness of them.
Here's one way to tune into your jackal show. Bring up the triggering events in your mind, or better yet, get paper and pen. Then sit quietly and ask for them to speak. I find it helpful to address jackals directly as separate entities. I say, "Okay jackals I know you are talking. I'd like to hear what you are saying."
After you have made a request to hear them, write down all that you hear, without editing or responding.
When all has been expressed, go back and identify the corresponding observations, feelings, needs, relative to each individual jackal voice. Then look through what you have written and write down two or three specific requests.
I have copied a page from my workbook and posted it on the free resources page of my website: http://www.wiseheartpdx.org/resources.php
This contains an example of what a self-empathy journal entry might look like.
This week set aside a half hour to tune into to your jackal show. Follow the instructions above and use the example as a guide.