Self awareness and empathy

Self awareness is the ability to process your own thoughts , feelings and emotional internal self. The second element is to be aware of the external environment you share with others. The challenge with examining our mental and emotional states may be uncomfortable because of fear and other factors. For example you may have been challenge as a child or even as an adult for being sad. The message conveyed was that your feelings and emotions are not important or even wrong. One typical English response could be when someone encounters a sad person“Be strong , “there are others in far greater distress than you” and the harsh reply” get over it”. Being conditioned that feelings like sadness is bad or not important inculcated from youth in some families has an inhibiting effect on the child emotional growth. The past feelings that occurred naturally such as sadness where ether repressed or ignored by guardians preventing emotional regulation in a child.

Being self aware is an ongoing project dismantling negative states in the implicit because of losses and trauma. The traumas and losses in an individual life is from their own reality and beliefs systems. This effects the biology and neural pathways with a lack of agency over thier bodies. Van der Kolk (2014)says”traumatised people chronically feel unsafe in their bodies; they become an expert in ignoring their gut feelings and in numbing awareness”.

The practice of mindfulness and meditation allows us to feel what is going on in our bodies with attuning of a peaceful state. Because of busy culture and our personality emotions can be trampled on or ignored. This traffic jam of unfinished mental states can cause anxiety and many other problems. The NHS website says in part “It’s easy to stop noticing the world around us. It’s also easy to lose touch with the way our bodies are feeling and to end up living ‘in our heads’ – caught up in our thoughts without stopping to notice how those thoughts are driving our emotions and behaviour. An important part of mindfulness is reconnecting with our bodies and the sensations they experience. This means waking up to the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of the present moment. That might be something as simple as the feel of a banister as we walk upstairs.”

The other important ingredient of being self aware is being able to be honest with ourselves which includes our thoughts, feelings and mental states. Paramount to that honesty is to be honest with the external environment that effects us everyday in different activities and relationships. For example our behaviour or how others view us can be challenging because of a deep down desire and need to be love. We may struggle in our environment:we may not like our job, don’t like where we live or the activities we do but don’t do anything consciously about it because it is a long life pattern we practice with no feeling of joy and contentment. In this state of denial we go to work as a zombie with no enthusiasm but denying how we really feel about the job.We come home not being able to relax in our home and feel guilty about going to the social club to please friends.

The greatest tool we have for self awareness is first to recognise our own mental and emotional states even if we don’t know why we feel those emotions and feelings. With emotional intelligence and being self aware helps us to embrace life with our true authentic self. Hendel(2018)
Says ”The Self can notice what’s going on inside the mind and the body. By using self awareness return to the open hearted state.” She goes on to say “when self is compromised , overwhelming emotions, the young parts of self must work extra hard to regain the open hearted state.” In her book it’s not always depression she says that “open hearted state is the C words which are calm, curious, connected, compassionate, confident, courageous and clear.”
This is the basis for good foundation in a counselling relationship with a client. When the counsellor understands thier own emotions and feelings it enables them to be empathetic with the client. Especially being congruent to their own feelings and emotions during the session.

According to en.wikipedia “Empathy is the capacity to understand or feel what another person is experiencing from within their frame of reference, that is, the capacity to place oneself in another’s position.Definitions of empathy encompass a broad range of emotional states. Types of empathy include cognitive empathy, emotional (or affective) empathy, and somatic empathy.”

According Daniel Golman 2007 website and book says “cognitive empathy,” simply knowing how the other person feels and what they might be thinking. Sometimes called perspective-taking, this kind of empathy can help in, say, a negotiation or in motivating people. Then there is emotional empathy,” – when you feel physically along with the other person, as though their emotions were contagious. This emotional contagion, social neuroscience tells us, depends in large part on the mirror neurone system. Emotional empathy makes someone well-attuned to another person’s inner emotional world, a plus in any of a wide range of callings, from sales to nursing – let alone for any parent or lover.compassionate empathy, With this kind of empathy we not only understand a person’s predicament and feel with them, but are spontaneously moved to help, if needed.”

Empathy is the balm for a person wounds soothing the soul within during a distressing situation. To be empathetic is first to learn the language of understanding of your own emotions and feelings which is self awareness . The skills to navigate ones own emotional states is vital because we will become ridged and perfunctory in the counselling session and not emphatic without being emotionally intelligent and self aware. The depth of a person pain is difficult to measure but to be aware of the feelings and present is a vital clue in discovering the clients internal world. Culture, religion, education and other environmental substrates imprint on an individual experience thier emotional intelligence skills as a reference.

In conclusion the vital skills of developing self awareness and emphatic understanding will facilitate a good working relationship regardless of what the internal struggles and external struggles we all face. With the beauty of self awareness it provides an opportunity for us to live in our bodies and have somatic empathy for ourselves enriching the life we have. Embracing relationships with with self awareness and empathy is like the soothing balm that gives comfort and support to a fulfilling relationship.

Bibliography

Golman 2007 http://www.danielgoleman.info/three-kinds-of-empathy-cognitive-emotional-compassionate/

Golman 1996 emotional intelligence why it can be matter more than IQ

Hendel 2018 it’s not always depression
Kolk 2014 The body keeps the score mind, brain and body in the transformation of trauma

NHS https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/mindfulness/

Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Empathy