The curious paradox is that when I accept myself as I am, I can change.

~ Carl Rogers, Founder of Humanistic Psychology

How am I?

Last Thursday and Friday I presented a marathon series of trainings.  Within 24 hours I presented the same 1.5 hours of material four times.  At the beginning of each session, as I like to do, I invited the participants into a minute of silence to ask themselves this question: “How am I?”.  This action, known in Compassionate Communication as self-empathy, is the first step toward effective communication

The key with self-empathy is to focus our attention on what’s happening inside ourselves not to get the “right” answer.  Just asking the question brings our focus to a new place.  This shifts us from attending to all that’s happening outside ourselves into a mindful connection with what’s stirring in our emotional world.   Awareness of the answer, which asks us to tune into the feelings and the needs connected to them, is a further step to self-connection.  The willingness to accept the answer to this question brings us more fully into a loving relationship with the beauty of our inner world.

Changing Your Mood

Self-empathy allows us to change our inner state while a lack of awareness of what’s going on in you makes it unlikely you’ll be able to alter your mood. For example, last Thursday I had hoped to be at the training location by 8 am to attend the opening session of the conference to get a sense of the culture of the group I’d be training before my first session began at 10:15.  When I arose at 6:45, I tuned on my computer only to see these words in white on a blue background:  “Microsoft is updating.  This will take a while. Do not turn off your computer.”  Accompanying these ominous worlds (“This will take a while”!?) was a percentage indicating the progress of the update.

At 7:45, the computer was at 45% and I was very uncomfortable.  I chose to check-in with myself by asking “How am I?”.  I discovered that I was upset because I really wanted effectiveness and ease. I wanted effectiveness by being able to attending the 8 am session to better understand my trainees and the context of their conference.  I wanted ease in getting out of the house (I told my wife that I was under Microsoft “house arrest”).   When I asked and answered the question (and accepted the answer), I felt much more calm and centered.  Rather than dwelling on something over which I had no control, I did the dishes, walked the dog, packed the car, and completed other work.

Had I not taken time to check-in, I would not have been able to shift out of the upset.  It’s likely that by focusing on what I wasn’t getting, why I wasn’t getting it, and why I should be getting it, I would become angry and have trouble settling down before my day of trainings.

At about 9 am, the computer was updated. I had plenty of time to get to the training and see part of the first session.

2 Minutes of Self-connection

Below is a 2-minute video that I invite you to listen to while asking yourself “How am I?”  Let me know what you find.

Flowing Creek in Rocky Mountain National Park — June 2017

How are you? What is stirring in your heart? What are your passions and fears?  By answering these questions in the moment, you empower yourself to act to move yourself to another place…You move yourself toward a world where everyone Communicates with Heart!