This month our LifeBook theme is healing and authenticity. Expressing myself authentically is so important to me and the healing part seems especially relevant since I have been very demanding of myself lately…. like to the point of trying to keep myself awake at night to get more done and also not letting myself have any quiet time, which is essential for me.
In addition to whisking myself off for a chat with my therapist, Tamara‘s LifeBook lesson, “Embracing All of You,” helped me tremendously.
She introduced us to her own self-empathy practice. I think some of this comes from MasonLaporte Conflict Transformation and some from a process used in Nonviolent Communication, and some of this is what works for Tamara.
There are 5 steps to this self-empathy process. It is about clearing our heads of judgement of our negative aspects so we can listen to our own unmet needs with kindness and reframe the situation. We are to ask ourselves 4 questions:
- What am I observing?
- What am I feeling?
- What am I needing right now?
- Do I have a request of myself or someone else?
1) Observation: A specific event that caused me distress (described without judgement): I lost my calm with my daughter one afternoon last week. We both were tired and not getting what we wanted (she wanted to go swimming; I wanted to have a quiet afternoon at home). We were at an impasse and she was whining rather loudly and hanging on me and I raised my voice to shout “enough of this!” and then walked away from her. She then started crying.
2) Feeling: In that moment, I felt annoyed, exasperated, tired, frustrated, impatient, tense, and overwhelmed.
3) Need: Connect the feeling to a need and ask yourself what need is not being met. For me it was rest, support, cooperation.
4) Time: Sit with those needs. Notice their importance to you. Acknowledge how hard it was for you not to have them met in that moment. This is the crucial self-empathy part.
5) Request: A doable action request. I invited myself to let go of the requirement to be patient 100% of the time. I apologized to my daughter (2 minutes after the situation, actually). I went to bed early for a couple nights to ensure I had rest and could regain a healthy perspective.
Part of my issue is that I feel that since I have chosen to be a stay-at-home-mom, I should always make my daughter my priority. I feel guilty when I want to be away from her. I would often rather create art, read a book, or organize a closet than play “grocery store” one more time. Some of what I want to do can be done with her nearby, but most of it cannot. I am trying to get her to be comfortable doing her own activities while I do mine, but it is very slow-going. She is an only child and wants me to be her constant playmate. I am an introvert and want quiet and space. Hmm.
Forgiveness is also about healing from these actions and being kinder and more loving to myself and others in turn.
Tamara said that by looking at circumstances on a deeper level during a stressful event and moving away from judgement, you can let go and forgive yourself. You are much better able to transform your behavior from that place rather than from one of judgement.
As far as those aspects of myself that come up in other situations, I am trying to remember that it really is ok to forget to do something or to leave things undone on purpose. As long as someone else isn’t relying on it, what does it really matter? And, I want to be aware of the aspects of myself I am happy with (focused/determined, intuitive, capacity to empathy, organized/efficient, creative imagination) and keep the entire lists balanced. No short order, I know.