We’ve talked a lot on Wakey about rumination - or overthinking - and how it’s one of the important ways we become distressed and overwhelmed.
Another important way people become depressed or anxious is that they respond immediately to strong emotions - like anxiety, anger or depression - because we feel like we can’t tolerate them and we frantically want to make them go away. Sitting with these feelings and letting them go away on their own is really hard. One of the ways we can do this is through kindness and compassion.
Compassion means cultivating feelings of kindness, closeness, and affection to yourself and others. Feelings of compassion are a direct antidote to feelings of anger, anxiety, and depression. In fact these emotions may have developed as a signal to bring us closer to our loved ones.
Armed with this knowledge we can choose whether to spend our time in a compassionate state of mind or instantly responding to impulsive emotions.
Remember - what goes on on your brain is not your fault. But you can learn the skills to ride the waves - instead of drowning.
How do we learn to be compassionate towards other people?
During these stressful times it can be difficult to feel compassion for other people - they may be stressed out and irritable. When times are tough people’s threat system becomes activated to protect them. If we are able to practice understanding that this is not them really - it is their threat system talking we will be better able to help. Try to see yourself as the person who can help them feel better rather than the person who is hard done by because they are snapping. Of course behaviour that is abusive or violent is unacceptable and should not be tolerated.
How do we learn to be compassionate to ourselves?
We speak to ourselves using opinions that *feel* like fact. We can rephrase them as facts and they lose some of their power. Practice speaking to yourself the way the kindest person you know would speak to you