In this second part of the Empathy series, Candice gives a few exercises to connect you with your own emotions and help you build awareness and self-compassion in how you respond to your emotions.
Being more empathetic towards ourselves allows us to go into the world with more empathy, more understanding, and more kindness.
02:40 What is empathy?
- Dan Goleman once said, “Sensing what others feel without their saying so captures the essence of empathy.”
03:57 The relationship between emotional literacy and empathy
- Our empathy is greatly increased when we have an awareness of how we feel in situations.
- If we have low emotional literacy — the ability to know what we’re feeling and experiencing — then it’s very difficult for us to connect with others around what they’re feeling.
04:25 Being more empathetic towards ourselves
- If we can’t be empathetic towards ourselves, we very often can’t do it for others.
- How do you treat yourself when you are stressed or tired or annoyed? Are you able to hold space for yourself? Do you offer self-compassion?
05:41 Exercise 1 – Reflect on what you feel
- If you missed part one, you can go back and start there. Or you can begin with part two and then go do part one. There is no specific order.
- The first three days of the exercises are for you to pause at a point in your day and notice what you’re feeling, whether in general or in relation to something specific. Jot down what you’re feeling.
07:45 Exercise 2 – Offer Yourself Empathy
- Being empathetic with yourself is to allow space for your emotional experience. Notice what you feel and just sit with it.
- Discover what you feel and then consider what you would like to feel.
- Notice your feelings about the way you feel. Do you judge yourself for the way you feel?
- What to do when you don’t like where you’re at emotionally or physically? It’s really about being kind, putting those critical, judgmental, harsh voices aside and offering ourselves empathy and self-compassion.
17:42 Paying attention to our body as a way to be present
- We can use paying attention to our body as a way to be present. How does your body feel?
- By being present and paying attention, we have the opportunity to allow and have empathy with where we are.
21:48 Exercise 3.1 – What does empathy look like to you? What does it feel like for you? What does it sound like to you?
- For me, empathy feels like acceptance. It sounds caring, genuine, kind and warm. It has a calm tone of voice, gentle in how it comes across.
23:28 Empathy doesn’t mean you drop standards or don’t hold boundaries
- Empathy, kindness, being able to be present to a person’s difficult experiences doesn’t mean we drop standards or we don’t hold boundaries.
- It requires much greater strength to find in ourselves the ability to be courageous and kind in a situation and still acknowledge where the non-negotiable boundaries are, where we’re prepared to give and where we’re not.
27:08 Exercise 3.2 — Do the activities that offer you self-care
- What are some of the simple joys and activities that offer you a holding, a kindness no matter where you are in your life?
- In these three days, you’re going to find time in your day to go and do those things that offer you holding, offer you self-love, offer you the space to be who you are where you are.
29:18 Exercise 4 – Using the Power of Gratitude
I love this quote by Antonio Porchia — “In a full heart there’s room for everything, and in an empty heart there’s room for nothing.” This exercise is intended to contribute toward a fuller heart.
- Every day for four days, list three things you’re grateful for about who you are as a person i.e. character, traits, habits. The idea is to look at your flaws and traits.
- List some traits you really don’t like about yourself, then find what’s awesome within that, what’s the upside to that so-called downside.
- You can also look to your childhood experiences and the people around you. What have they helped seed in you and bring out of you?
- Empathy is a lot about how we listen, how we are able to engage with somebody who is experiencing emotions.
- “Hard”, “difficult” or uncomfortable emotions are the emotions that really challenge us to be present. We often want to rush through them, lock them in a cupboard and not acknowledge them, make them go away.
- What we’re feeling can be fed by our thoughts, but it can also be that our thinking is feeding our emotions.
- When we are able to be present to someone in the emotional space where they’re at without a desire or expectation they should be different, we often see people find the space to change or grow.
“Sensing what others feel without their saying so captures the essence of empathy.” Dan Goleman
How often each day, if you were to verbalize your inner reality at that moment, would you have to say, “I don’t want to be where I am”? — Ekhart Tolle
In a full heart there’s room for everything, and in an empty heart there’s room for nothing. — Antonio Porchia
“When you begin to notice your thoughts, one of the first things you’ll see is that you’re never alone. You’re not alone with your lover or with anyone else; you’re not even alone with yourself. Wherever you go, whomever you’re with, the voice in your head goes with you, whispering, nagging, enticing, judging, chattering, shaming, guilt-tripping, or yelling at you. When you wake up in the morning, your thoughts wake up with you. They push you out of bed and follow you to work. They make comments about people at the office and people in the store. They follow you to the bathroom, get into your car when you do, and come back home again with you. Whether or not someone is waiting for you at home, your thoughts will be there waiting for you. […] The way you relate to your thoughts, that’s what you bring to every relationship you have, including the one with yourself.”
— Byron Katie
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