Becoming Your True Self
We are truly in the Age of Aquarius when there are empirically researched processes for building grounding and authentic confidence, processes which we happen to use in the Empatharian Peace Arts Curriculum.
Ethan Kross, PhD., calls these techniques “self-distancing” where you visualize yourself in the past and/or the future, and talk to yourself, silently in your head, but using your name, from the perspective of a detached clinical observer. He’s done research on using these techniques on many different types of people, including victims of PTSD, bi-polar disorder, clinically depressed and anxiety patients, as well as just normal stressed subjects. All show markers of improvement in their self-concept, less negative symptoms, and less self-report of markers for distress.
For some people with trauma in their history, it’s been shown that actually re-experiencing the trauma doesn’t help, but rather re-activates the emotions from the past in an unhelpful way. When you use language to facilitate adaptive self-reflection, rather than re-experiencing, the ability to reframe the past negative feelings in a positive light, becomes a tool for re-enforcing and growing a positive self-talk.
Low Self-Esteem and the Empathy Journal
When you suffer from low self-esteem and experience stress in your life, you tend to internalize it and expand self-blaming. In the Empatharian Training and processes in the Empatharian Circle, we use an Empathy Journal to write love letters to ourselves, enacting and embodying the principles of peace-building.
It starts with nurturing the self physically, with healthy movement, exercise, food, and thoughts. Stress compiled in the body is massaged away with stretching and tapping techniques. Worry about the future that might cause stress, is relieved while staying absorbed in the present: body, mind and spirit, engaged in peace-building as a positive visualization of harmony, respect, inspiration, and inner joy.
What begins as a rote practice where you’re watching someone else move the body, becomes comfort and creativity as you reach in and enact your own moves. You feel the body becoming energized, the mind becoming clear and focused, and the spirit is lifted, with wisdom and connecting to simple love.
Then we begin the processes, remembering a time when… and talking back to that inner critic, with empathy and gentleness: “Thank you for sharing, now just relax.” Your past has led you to this future, where you can see and choose something different- because you can see and feel something different from the past’s negativity. You can now see how the anxiety and depression served you in the past, to go deeper into something, to be able to touch bottom, and spring up from that deep place, in your authenticity.
Yes, it was painful in the past, but thinking about it doesn’t have to be painful necessarily. From this place, you are able to thank your enemies for teaching you that lesson you so needed to learn. The you that learned and endured is now strong, and makes a stand for yourself, for abundance, and not allowing the judgments of others to drive your life.
In the Empathy Journal, the dreams of that little five year old you will be remembered and rekindled, perhaps. Gentle loving sweetness nourishes that little one, nurturing integrity, nurturing understanding, and helping you to be non-judgmental as well.