Can we have sympathy for others’ pain? Are we trying to help the one who is hurting, even with our presence and the fact that it bothers us how he feels and that we want him to be okay? But equally important - do we also feel sympathetic to ourselves when we experience pain? Are we looking for healthy ways to help?
Compassion for yourself is not self-pity. Many people confuse the two concepts. Self-pity often holds a person in a stalemate, constantly complaining about the situations in life, and is related to the role of victim and the notion that things cannot be improved. The sympathy for yourself is to be able to feel your emotion and to be aware of what is happening inside you. Pay attention and give gentle care and attention without escaping pain and without seeking quick and easy ways to masquerade it. Do not give advice - clichés such as "Yes, smile and forget!", "Up the head!" Or even worse: "Get stuck!" Compassion is part of the way to finding a real solution and successfully dealing with difficult moments.
When one gives advice as mentioned above to another or to himself, he simply disturbs too much of the other person's emotion and wants to get him out of pain for his inability to tolerate emotions sadness, anger or disappointment even for a short time. The other case in which we come to give such advice is when we face someone who has not taken action for a long time to improve his/her life situation, but keeps the state of stagnation and the only thing he/she wants (consciously or unconsciously) is to feel as a victim because he does not believe in his ability to learn and grow.
It is difficult to be the support of another person and of ourselves if we have not mastered the ability to tolerate discomforting emotions for a while. When we learn what they want to tell us, then their energy will drain away gradually. In order not to be afraid of our own or others’ emotions, it is important to know that:
• Emotion passes, it comes and goes like a sea wave. While we are in emotion, it may look so deep that it's as though we never get out of it, but it's not. It comes with a certain energy charge and gradually this charge is consumed and the intensity of emotion decreases. If we recall this at the peak of emotion, it will be easier for us to accept it and not to "fight" or run away from it. If we accept it, it goes faster in a natural way.
• It is important, of course, and what we do and think while we are in emotion. Negative thought patterns (cognitive distortions) reinforce and hold it for longer. Such a model is, for example, "labelling" - putting an offensive "label" on ourselves when we make a mistake. Another such negative model of thought is supersession - it is, for example, the thought that once this error or unpleasant event occurs, it will repeat itself again and again and determine the whole life. Such a thought makes all other aspects of life fade. These distorted thought patterns intensify emotion immensely and therefore increase the fear of emotions in general.
• It is important to build the habit of seeing things from a constructive point of view: "Now I am sad, but the emotion will pass away and peace and joy will come again. What message do you wear me, sadness? Which important need is unsatisfied? Or what do I need to change in my life or relationships to make me feel more satisfied? "
When we learn to master and regulate our emotions, we will be able to tolerate their appearance and existence even when they temporarily create discomfort. And then, when we no longer run away from emotions and do not repress them, as in the past, we can feel them, learn from them and give our sympathy.
To give our sympathy is to give ourselves tenderness, careful and caring attitude. Do not be pressured to get out of the pain faster than sitting in it without dramatizing.
We can give a caring attitude like:
• we play our favourite music
• go to massage (increases production of oxytocin in the body - the hormone of happiness)
• Create an atmosphere of cosiness at home
• Take a warm shower (also increases the production of oxytocin)
• Do yoga or meditation
• we call a friend or close person to whom we trust, to whom we can safely "empty the pockets of our soul" and speak openly about what we are experiencing. But let's try in such conversations that our focus is on learning the lesson of the situation, not just about complaining about things.
• If at this moment we cannot talk to a friend about what's happening in our lives and our inner world, we can take a sheet and a chemical and write what has come from within us. No one will read the writing, so it is important to relax fully in the process and write until the energy of emotion is exhausted. We will see things in other ways - black and white on the leaves, and new ideas and thoughts may come to us to solve the situation. There are scientific studies that confirm the positive effect of writing on two things: on the one hand, regulating the power of emotion, and on the other - on the creativity / the ability to come to insights and solutions.
• Take a book on Applied Psychology and open the passages we highlighted while we read it the first time. As we read, we will imperceptibly change our inner state and flow of thoughts in a constructive direction.
Is it possible to become addicted to the pain?
If self-pity is the only way to feel affectionate to ourselves and to take our time and attention, it is possible to evoke subconscious situations that make us feel bad so that we can then put balsam on the wound - our pity on ourselves.
The hormones of pleasure and joy - endorphins are produced in our body in two cases - when we do things that give us joy, and then when we experience physical or emotional pain because these hormones also have an analgesic effect, that is, they reduce the pain.
If we do not get endorphins from good things, we'll find a way to deliver them as "painkillers" as a result of pain experienced. Do we have to pay this price to have in our body more than these good, beneficial hormones?
A healthy and conscious person makes the necessary efforts to deliver endorphins by satisfying their needs in a healthy way. He is not addicted to the pain and the role of victim, so that he can then feel the analgesic effect of endorphins.
True sympathy, unlike self-pity, leads to two things - one is to give ourselves tenderness and loving care in difficult moments, but also to look for a way to solve the problem that makes us feel bad.
Compassion is constructive and productive, unlike self-pity.
Should we give our permission to feel sympathy?
For some people, it's just the opposite - to let them feel the pain and give themselves the right to be human beings that sometimes hurt them. With these people somewhere in childhood there may have been cases where their vulnerability and pain, and the need for sympathy, were met by adults in a cold, rude or insensitive way. May adults have been affectionate, but they did not know how to express it and mistakenly thought that by refusing to express sympathy to the child, they did it stronger.
In fact, it does not get stronger, but it learns to hide those emotions that make it feel vulnerable. And it often happens to be so good in hiding it, that it stops them feeling it, separates that part of itself, loses contact with it. He begins to think it is non-emotional when the emotions are there, but they are pushed. In some people, the suppression of "unwanted emotions" leads to suppression and their ability to fully sense the "desired", good emotions.
And since undesirable and unapproved emotions are not lost, but are looking for a way out, they go in distorted and unconscious ways. Then the long-awaited sadness can become depression or an explosive and destructive anger. Destructive behaviour in most cases is a consequence of untreated pain and long-lived emotions.
So yes, we have the right to pain, we have the right to vulnerability and we have the right to sympathy for ourselves. Realize that some of the things you've learned in childhood from your parents are harmful and unhealthy. And give yourself the right to be authentic, to feel the emotions and to give yourself sympathy.
As for anything, here is the rule of the "golden environment" - to express our emotions, but in a conscious and healthy way. It is important to look for information how we can manage and learn from our emotions and live in a more satisfying way, feel more real and alive and do our best for our happiness and health.
Author: Maria Vassileva Dimitrova