The game of life is a game of boomerangs. Our thoughts, deeds and words return to us sooner or later with astounding accuracy.
— Florence Scovel Shinn
If yo’re feeling anxious then I would like to turn your attention to what I like to call “self-kindness.”
I know from working with severely mentally ill people that self-kindness is the last thing on their mind. And yet when I show them how to be kind to themselves there are always amazed at how fast their perspective on life changes.
The truth is you, just like other people, need to be kind to yourself. The problem is that our society places a lot of value on being kind to other people but very little value on being kind to ourselves. this then leads to feeling anxious.
We often get messages from society that we shouldn’t be kind to ourselves. Society calls it, wallowing in self-pity, or being self-indulgent. Or it’s a sign of weakness to be compassionate towards ourselves.
The problem I see with this is that if we open our hearts to other people and yet keeping it close to ourselves is that we now have a sense of separation from other people.
You can often feel anxious when you treat others with kindness and concern and yet you treat yourself harshly. You are saying in effect, “you are a member of the human race but I’m not.”
Because we don’t open our hearts to ourselves we feel distant from those around us. It always amazes me that when you see people in the caring profession showing kindness to others you’d expect them to be kind to themselves. But in fact, the opposite is true.
There are so many people – and you may be one of them – that are so kind, loving, caring towards others, but on the inside their beaching themselves to a pulp.
It always shocks me to see this.
Even in the most caring professions people beat themselves up for not being caring enough. In other words, they are professional at what they do – but amateurs at what they need to change about themselves.
If you recognise yourself in any of this, I’ll be showing you how to begin to think beautiful thoughts and stop feeling anxious in just a minute.
I’m sure you’ll agree with me when I say that all human beings should be shown kindness and compassion. And if you do then by definition that must include you.
But by practising self-kindness can be very difficult if you are a caregiver. And most of us are caregivers.
You may be in the care giving profession, you’re a teacher or you’re a nurse or doctor or a therapist.
You may also be a parent. Or you have friends that come to you in times of need. You may have a relationship partner who suffers and needs your care and support. And you could even have ageing parents that need you to look after them.
Most of us at some point in our lives are caregivers. And if you are constantly giving out to those who need you and being there for other people and opening your heart for them, but closing your heart to yourself you will eventually burn out.
Some people may call this caregiver burnout, but I like to call it “compassion fatigue.”
Psychology is now beginning to understand and recognise compassion fatigue although they still call it empathy fatigue.
The downside of mirror neurons.
If you have empathy, you tend to feel other people’s pain as if it was your own. Psychologists have put forward a theory about mirror neurons. These mirror neurons immediately let us know when we meet someone if they are a friend or foe.
You look at them to get a sense of the emotions they are feeling and you mirror their emotions in your own body.
Likewise, if you are a caregiver and you’re looking after someone you tend to register their emotional pain in your body. To put it another way their pain registers in your own pain centre inside your brain.
The problem here is that if you’re taking on other people’s pain and you’re not doing anything to relieve your own empathetic pain (you might call this stress), then you will burnout.
Compassion is different from empathy in that it has the sense of kindness, care, concern, recognition of being connected with others. And it’s true that compassion does not separate itself from others who suffer.
The heart of compassion is endless. In fact, compassion is a beautiful feeling.
Psychologists tell us that when we are feeling compassion the pleasure and reward centres of your brain light up. In other words, it feels good to be compassionate.
What this means to you is that when you are in a caregiver situation, be it a friend, a partner, an ageing parent, or at work you need to give both the other person and yourself a lot of compassion.
This then transforms the experience for a painful one to a beautiful one. Although it can still be painful it is beautiful in the sense that it is openhearted and a positive emotional experience.
By doing this your building a tremendous emotional resilience within yourself. Your no longer overwhelmed with pain because your heart is open to both them and you.
As you begin to practice compassion in this way you will find the other person will resonate with you because you’re being compassionate towards yourself and therefore the begin to feel more positive and uplifted.
And this is the best of both worlds.
At this point, I’d like to invite you to join me on a journey that will lead you to complete the new way of life. A life where anxiety, stress, feeling overwhelmed or stuck doesn’t exist.
Life where you feel empowered, strong, confident and above all optimistic as your life begins to take on a new meaning.
It all starts with you downloading my free fast start guide “Calm Body – Clear Mind.”
It will take you five minutes to read and then you’ll feel freedom from your anxiety.
It’s yours free over at http://www.yourowntruenature.com
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