Self Empathy is Self Love

{excerpt from very soon coming book Seduce Yourself: discoveries of self-love}

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I recently attended a workshop {with these amazing people} about empathetic parenting.  The premise is when we choose empathy for our children [versus:: blame, punishment, discipline] they learn to have empathy for others {including us} and their brains literally begin to learn how to make better choices in life.

The workshop stressed how we have to actually *embody* empathy, literally practice putting ourselves in our kids little tantruming, angry, sad, ecstatic, hyper bodies and feel what they are feeling {because we have all been there and we all have the ability to empathize in a real way} and then be able to come to them with a genuine, “I know, baby, that really just sucks, I feel you and get why you are feeling…” or "You are soooo stoked right now!"  Meeting them at their emotional level in any form is empathy.

But before we can embody empathy for others, we need a solid, strong practice of self-empathy. That means showing up for ourselves in full body empathy. 

* * * 

This morning my children refused to listen to any of my requests essential for getting out the door for school. The puppy was literally pooping all over a piles of library books that someone left on the floor. I burnt the living shit out of my coffee {which then someone spilled on the cell phone}. I found my very few items of make-up destroyed in the 6 year old's bedroom. When I got in my car, the battery was dead.  I yelled. I barked off orders. I moved around like an alchemical storm.  I was fire breathing bitch.  I said crappy things to people I love more than anything in world. 

With so much emotional stress, and rightfully so, the natural reaction is to oppress or release in some kind of way.  Because I *didn’t* practice self- empathy to honor my feelings- my brain skipped right to radical release {I do not oppress} which in my case is usually explosion.  This led to a good self-berating and beating up while sitting under the old cedar tree in front of my house- judging myself for not being able to be the zen superstar I always wanted to be, shaming myself for my explosive qualities, and worthless self-hate talk about what a shitty mother/human/person/writer I am.  For the rest of the morning I felt exhaustion, energetic drain + defeat.

This is *not* an example of self-empathy.  But remember this is a self- love journey and we are gonna fuck it up, it’s how us humans learn things.  This journey is about exploring and trying, really, really trying to pay attention to where we are and what we do and how we love ourselves.

Because I really, really love me. And I think you love you too.

Even when I am angry and crazy and sad and anxious and a million other things, I want to feel the love for myself that I know I have, somewhere, just wanting to be uncovered. 

Self Empathy would somehow look like the following... a practice I invite you to partake in because the results are amazing. 

When the chaos was going on this morning,  I would stop and pay attention to how I was feeling  {which was slightly psychotic}.  This isn't easy- my brain pattern is to not look within the moment and watch, but instead just panic, not like the feeling and lash it out.  But with intention and practice it's totally possible. After spending time with my feeling,  I would speak how I am actually feeling out loud:  I AM PISSED OFF.  I AM REALLY FRUSTRATED RIGHT NOW.  I AM REALLY ANGRY.  I FEEL CRAZY!  I NEED SPACE.  I am not necessarily saying this to anyone in particular.  I am saying it to myself.  I am saying it in a way that gives  room to Be.  Stating feelings so you and those around you can hear, feel, and learn how to express in an honest, non-judmental way. This gives your feelings normalcy.  Once you say it out loud it makes sense, like 'yeah, so what, I feel this, feeling this is important right now.' and then maybe 'Okay, I feel this and how is this feeling my teacher?' And you can kinda just be with that emotion and make it clear to yourself this feeling is wisdom and just allow it to be.

By speaking our feelings WE GIVE THEM A NAME + VOICE 

And our practice is to respond to them lovingly.

This is really one of the first steps in self- love, this is why it's the first chapter.  We are not going to be enlightened self loving humans just because it’s going to happen. 

We are going to be assholes with intense feelings of all kinds including anger, hate, despair, jealousy and frustration just to name some. We all have trauma and wounds and evolutionary snags. 

On the other note, we are going to be humans that feel joy, love, ecstasy, pride- and all those other big and bold feelings.  And even then, we often squash those feelings, shaming ourselves for things being good and big and amazing.  Being embarassed about how kick-ass you actually are. This is also NOT practicing self-empathy either. In that case we would practice speaking: I AM SO EXCITED. I AM SO FUCKING PROUD.  I AM A ROCK STAR. I FEEL BETTER THAN EVER. IT CAN BE THIS GOOD {or whatever awesomeness is going on} when we just allow those feelings to happen without reaction. 

We are the expressions of our feelings, I don’t care what anyone says.  But we can transcend them to a state of equanimous love. Just by allowing them to happen and giving ourself empathy no matter what the feelings are. This is the only way we stop all the self-doubt and worth bashing going on in our heads and heart.  All of which squash self-love.

Be amazed at the fact you have this wide range of feelings.  They are the layers woven into your being.  They are what make you beloved.  

They are what make you so outrageously beautiful.  Intense. Mysterious. Easy. Wild. Free. Organized. Reliable. Sensual. Creative. Whatever it is you are. 

Our feelings are the song and dance of our experiences and instead of them creating dis-ease in our bodies, let’s honor them, out loud,  when they emerge so that we can just sit for a moment and love ourselves through whatever they are. 

* * *

Today be vocal. 

Announce to yourself what you are feeling when you feel strong feelings.  In the midst of kid stress, work stress, life stress, hunger, anger, jealousy- just state it.

Also in the midst of high, beautiful, successful feelings- speak those as well.  

And then tell yourself you understand. You feel you.  Sit with that.  

Luxuriate your nervous system by allowing it to be activated in a healthy, beautiful and creative way. All of this will organically help you make choices and choose experiences and breathe deeper into your own inner endless love. 

photo by Danielle Cohen utterly capturing me in a moment of pure self love.