This post on compassion is the second half of a two-part installment drawn from principles shared in my book, Choose Your Energy: Change Your Life!
Here’s a quick recap of some of the key principles shared in the previous installment:
- Noticing and embracing all of our emotions is essential to finding flow and making it a way of life. It is nearly impossible to know how to nurture ourselves optimally if we are not willing to go inside, root around a bit, and discover what makes us tick.
- Emotions are important messengers. They help us notice the implications of what is happening and gain the maximum benefit from everything we experience.
- Knowing how to recognize, process, express, and release emotions is essential to our well-being.
When I first began coaching, I was surprised by the number of clients, men and women alike, who were ashamed of crying, even in the presence of a licensed professional coach. Some cited a special appreciation for the norm of coaching by phone because they believed I wouldn’t know when they were crying. (Though it is unlikely that an experienced, intuitive life coach won’t know that you are crying, even if you do so silently.) Tears are a common human response to strong emotion, especially fear and its cousins. For many, the only way to avoid crying is to avoid feeling.
Why is shedding tears so important and beneficial? There is a great parallel in the example of therapeutic massage. Every massage therapist I’ve ever worked with encouraged me to drink lots of water for the twenty-four to forty-eight hours after a massage. Deep tissue work releases copious toxins into your system. For the net result of the massage to be beneficial, it is necessary to flush those toxins from your system as quickly and completely as possible. When you don’t do so, your body may become overwhelmed, resulting in illness. Water is an essential element in ensuring that the massage is therapeutic and not detrimental. Water fosters flow.
Think of crying as the emotional equivalent of water after a massage. When you’ve done deep emotional work on your own or with a guide, stored emotional toxins are released into your system. Tears are one of the common ways to release those toxins and gain the full benefit of the emotional work. Some clients who are carrying a lifetime of unacknowledged, unfelt stored emotions say they are afraid that if they start crying now, they will never stop. While I empathize with that concern, I am happy to report it doesn’t tend to happen. Even a little bit of crying can do a world of good. The stored-up tears do stop, and then, by remaining aware and fully embracing all of your feelings all of the time, you’ll find a little bit of crying goes a long way. Just respecting your feelings enough to notice them and demonstrate compassion rather than continuing to tell yourself to suck it up and stop being a wimp will result in far greater emotional equilibrium and resilience in the face of life’s ups and downs.
When tears arise, it’s an indicator that we are in the presence of a big insight that bears deeper exploration once the strong emotions have been respected and cleared. Other times, there is nothing of note, just a need for a little release of pent-up stress. How do you know which you are dealing with?
Once the tears have passed, breathe, close your eyes, and recenter yourself. Once centered, ask yourself if something bears deeper examination. Notice subtle responses throughout the major energy systems in your body, especially any tightening in your head, neck, chest, solar plexus, or stomach. Such responses may mean there is more to be worked through. An overall feeling of well-being usually means there is nothing to look at, or nothing to look at right now. In all cases, just trust your intuition. This powerful technique may also be applied to decision making. While it may feel too subtle to notice at first, with practice you will become quite adept at reading your energy.
To help anchor this learning about compassion in reality, I will share an example of how this shows up in my relationship with myself. My illustration is not a recipe for the only method that works; it is an example of what often works for me, a way for you to get started and, with some curiosity and experimentation, figure out what works best for you.
My name, Deborah, means “the bee” in Hebrew, as in “busy as a bee” (how unsurprising). My muse and inner child is named Bee. How do I know that’s her name? She told me. You can learn more about that process and the role of the muse on your personal board of directors in chapter 6. My pet name for Bee is Little Bee or Bumble Bee.
As with any healthy, meaningful relationship, I check in with her regularly. I don’t just wait until I sense something is amiss. When I do notice discomfort arising, which often shows up as a tightening in my chest or heart chakra, I stop what I’m doing, place my hand over my heart, breathe deeply, and lovingly say, “What is it, Little Bee? I’m right here. You’re not alone.”
If circumstances permit, I find this dialogue is most effective conducted out loud. My guess is that engaging speech and hearing along with touch and thinking helps amplify the experience so I can access what’s happening more deeply and process it more effectively and fully. Honestly, it doesn’t really matter to me why it works, just that it works. I am an intuitive life coach; while I respect reason, I never trust it over intuition. Why would I use a lower level of knowledge to override a much higher form of wisdom?
Back to Little Bee. “I know you’re in pain. Tell me what it’s about.” I stop and listen. Trusting my intuition again, whatever comes up, that’s where I go in. As my inner creative wild child and muse, she usually starts with the idea that I’m working her too hard and she’s not had any fun in a while. She abhors drudgery and forced labor. Many times, I’ll pat my shoulder gently as I would a beloved child and say, “I know, Little One. You’ve been working long hours. Your creativity has been such a big help. Thanks to your contribution, the writing is going to be so much more enjoyable and effective in helping as many people as possible find hope and learn to love themselves. I couldn’t do it without you. I also understand that you cannot give anything of lasting value from an empty well. You really need to take a break and refresh yourself. To rest and restock your creative juices with some fun activities so you’ll be able to continue to contribute. Tell me what you’d like to do, and we’ll make a specific plan for how and when we’re going to do it.”
At this point, I won’t take you through all the ins and outs of how this dialogue might go. Sometimes there’s a lengthy and entertaining negotiation. Sometimes all Bee needs is for me to take a five-minute break and visit the loo. A glass of water or mug of tea. A little snack if it’s been a while since I ate. Turning on the electric fireplace and adding a sweater because the room had gotten cold two hours ago but my guardian Ella (also explained in chapter 6) was so heads down in the writing that she never noticed. Or Ella had noticed but didn’t want me to stop to address my physical discomfort because she worried that if I stopped, the flow of words wouldn’t return, an example of fear-based scarcity mentality at work.
The process of connecting with Bee’s (which is to say that aspect of my own) thoughts and feelings is to stop, focus my attention, set my intention, go in, ask respectfully, listen deeply, explore, demonstrate compassion, and figure out what to do. Funny thing is, usually all she needs is something small, not a Mercedes or a yacht. A trip to the bathroom, a glass of water, a piece of cheese, a cat to pet, a peek out the window to appreciate the Rocky Mountains, or a walk around her yard to breathe fresh air and feel the sun on her face for a few minutes.
Then Bee will go back to work with me happily, knowing she is free, she matters, and she is powerful. A forced march is never the answer to a quality outcome. Force results in mental exhaustion, emotional deterioration, and output that’s less than optimal. Giving myself regular breaks fosters a sense of flow and produces spectacular results. I can trust myself to complete the work when the time is right.
Occasionally, when I talk with Little Bee, tears erupt, and I find a surprisingly deep pain. Something that I ignored for far too long until it inflicted real damage. Then I know it is time to stop, put everything else on hold, and give it my full attention. There is always time for the things that matter. Our only responsibility in each moment is to discern what matters most right now, to focus, and to follow through. My thoughts and feelings always matter, especially if I know they are causing me pain.
Excerpt from “Choose Your Energy: Change Your Life!” © Copyright 2013-2018 DJW Life Coach LLC. All rights reserved.
What readers say about
the impact of Deborah’s book
“In a world where it is second nature to invest our energies in empty ventures, Deborah invites us to take a stab at the offer of a lifetime: Celebrate! At the heart of Deborah’s work is the claim that there is much to be celebrated in this life, and that a good place to start is the place that experiences the most neglect: ourselves. In her book Deborah provides a practical path to wearing a lens of celebratory love, and she does so with a wealth of curiosity and a healthy dose of humor. Combine Deborah’s written work with her compassionate coaching style, and you will be well on your way to discovering your fullest self.” Hannah Creager, Chaplaincy Director, Hospice House and Support Care of Williamsburg, Virginia
“How many of us see ourselves through other’s eyes, to the point that you don’t even know who YOU are anymore? We all have roles we play but, in all our role playing, we ‘forget’ who we are and what we really want or need. Deborah’s story is one that resonates with many who have lost that ‘spark’ of life and seek to find their way back. Deborah’s story is one of hope but it hasn’t been without trial and tribulation. She changed her life by changing her energy and best of all she tells you how YOU can change your life in positive ways. As a lifecoach, Deborah’s life has been a beacon of hope for her fortunate clients. She has distilled her message into a book that makes life coaching accessible and affordable to everyone. This is a great book for anyone that has ever wondered how a lifecoach can change your life for the better and the steps you can take to reconnect with that ‘spark’ of life.” Sheila Hughes
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What clients say about
the power of coaching with Deborah
“I knew Deborah before she became a Professional Life Coach. I’ve been amazed at how she has changed her life. When I decided it was time to begin making decisions about the next phase of my life, I knew immediately that Deborah was the person I wanted to work with. Her personal and professional experiences help her guide clients through coaching in a way that is individualized and delightfully eye-opening. Her warmth and sensitivity are immediately apparent, even over the phone. With gentle encouragement and permission, she will guide you through an examination of your life, including difficult experiences. She will help you gain insight from your past choices and then explore possibilities for moving forward in less encumbered ways. When you work with Deborah, your life will take on new meaning and your potential will be limitless!” Chris
“The work I did with Deborah continues to change my life. While I have learned many valuable lessons from her, the greatest was the deep insight that is available to me when I listen to and learn from my own inner wisdom. Her intuition, discernment and encouragement have taught me to trust my own intuition—creating new paths and possibilities for my life. One of Deborah’s great gifts is helping others respect and connect with their inner guidance and through that connection, to form a deeper, more meaningful bond with the collective wisdom and energy of all.” Ryan