How are you today ? What are you feeling now? What needs, feelings and wants are there in your mind? Self-empathy is an exercise in well-being and psychological health that is often overlooked.
Looking inward is the first step towards any kind of external empathy and, in turn, the starting point for any rewarding relationship with yourself and with others. So why do we sometimes put aside this decisive skill?
Throughout our lives, we have always been reminded of the importance of empathic concern. In other words, few things are as important as knowing how to understand who we have in front of us, having the ability to put yourself in the other’s shoes to understand them and then act on them.
However, few people have explained to us that the best way to practice this art is to start with emotional self-awareness. Only the empathetic self capable of reading its own needs and emotions and responding in harmony according to this personal universe is able to achieve happiness.
Self-empathy what is it?
Self-empathy is the ability to connect with oneself in a caring and respectful way. It is important to focus on these last two dimensions: “benevolence” and “respect”.
Because while it’s true that we all practice inner discourse and have the ability to connect with our being, we don’t always do it right. We are, for example, very inclined to foster negative dialogue.
We also define ourselves by a subtle tendency to criticize, to wear out, to this self-communication which ignites concerns and which offers no solution. This lack of valid and nurturing self-empathy leads us to nurture states of stress and anxiety. We also have a habit of giving others more than what we give ourselves.
Although Daniel Goleman did not talk about self-empathy as such in his book Emotional Intelligence , he included it in what is called “emotional self-awareness”. It is no more and no less than monitoring our own internal states, preferences, hunches, needs and every emotion as it arises.
The keys to developing self-empathy
Godfrey T. Barrett-Lennard, professor of psychology at the University of Murdoch (Australia), has researched this topic. He explains that the task of every therapist during psychotherapy is to train the person in this basic and essential skill of self-empathy.
The reason is that many people spend a good part of their life neglecting how they feel. Many people find themselves diluted in their immediate environment (partner, children, etc.). These people no longer know how to access themselves, their emotions, thoughts, desires, deficiencies …
We must not leave this task aside. Restoring empathy to oneself is a priority topic at this time. Let’s see what are the keys to achieving this.
Observe without judging, listen to you
Self-empathy requires that you notice and acknowledge that you are there, that there is a part of you that feels, suffers, is excited, saddened, and full of hope. It implies that you are able to observe yourself without being judgmental, without criticizing yourself for going through certain things or because today you feel angry, worried or afraid.
Listening to yourself in an open and transparent manner will allow you to generate changes that bring you closer to well-being. So listen to yourself without passing judgment.
Talk to yourself like you’re your best friend
If you don’t speak respectfully to each other, who will? If you are not able to communicate with yourself in a loving way, how can you expect others to do so? Be aware of this. Self-empathy forces you to talk to yourself like you’re your best friend.
Emotional self-awareness is nourished by understanding and this absolute listening capacity from which to love ourselves as we are, as we feel. No filters, no cracks or shame.
Forgive yourself today, tomorrow and always
Self-empathy, to be useful, authentic, and meaningful, doesn’t have to start with rejection or criticism. Are you mad at yourself because you end up making the same mistakes over and over again? Do you blame yourself for leaving opportunities behind? Do you feel uncomfortable with yourself because you lacked courage?
This sense of self-rejection prevents you from exercising healthy, restorative self-empathy. It’s always a good time to forgive yourself. Forgive yourself for making mistakes. Forgive yourself for letting some people hurt you. Forgive yourself and empathize with yourself the way you should.
Self-empathy: life is a challenge and I accept my lights and my shadows
Anger, fear, disappointment, anguish, worry… Life is a constant challenge and it will always put you to the test. Under adverse circumstances, it is normal to experience complicated emotions. Neglecting this internal anatomy, looking away from what you are feeling will lead to impotence and reinforce stress and anxiety.
Self-empathy tolerates all those turbulent oceans that sometimes sail through you. Accepting how you feel and giving yourself the love you need is a cathartic and ideal way to begin to generate change, to move from that starting point to balance and calm.
Alfred Alder said that empathy was the ability to look with the eyes of others, to listen with the ears of others, and to feel with the hearts of others. Self-empathy is only possible if we are able to love ourselves completely.