Basics for Self-Empathy
Have you ever attempted self-empathy and found that you just end up getting stuck in unpleasant feelings and a swirl of repetitive thoughts? Let's look at some of the basics of self-empathy.
Self-empathy is meant to allow space for you to experience all that is alive in you with acceptance and honor for that experience.
Self-empathy isn't meant to be an elixir that removes unpleasant feelings.
I often think of feelings as energy entities that want to be known - experienced fully and acknowledged. Sometimes this takes a few minutes, sometimes a few hours or days or weeks.
When you learn to be a "big container", it means you are allowing feelings to be there. You notice a feeling as it arises and say something like, "Okay, I notice I am feeling hurt right now. That's okay to feel. I don't have to do something about it nor push it away."
When you live with acceptance and honor for what is alive in you, you create spaciousness in your consciousness. This means that unpleasant feelings can arise and be there without a reaction from you. When you are not in reaction to your own internal experience, you can continue to function and be attentive to others, your work, your bicycle ride, etc.
You can become a larger container for your feelings by inserting an "acceptance voice" into mindfulness and meditation. Find a short phrase that helps you move to acceptance of your internal experience. Mine is simply, "That's okay". I have practiced this voice so much that it now arises of its own accord when needed.
Meditation is an ideal situation for this practice. When you sit quietly with the intention to stay in the present, your mind invariably wanders off and a variety of sensations and feelings arise. Each time you notice your mind wanders or a sensation or feeling arises, repeat your acceptance phrase and return to your point of focus (breath, sounds, sensations, whatever you have chosen). If you continue this practice over time, you will find yourself less reactive and more able to flow with whatever experiences and situations you encounter.
This week choose an acceptance phrase and practice it throughout the day as well as in your meditation periods.