I read this article about a study on “compassion training.”
It made me feel better. When I am in a lot of distress, and I don’t know what to do, I feel helpless and it is easy for the distress to become overwhelming to me. If I feel it’s okay to direct acceptance, warmth and concern towards myself, I feel less powerless.
The good news, in my mind, is that I have basically infinite acceptance, warmth and concern to offer to anyone, myself included. As soon as I feel it’s okay to do that–and I don’t feel that something about my feelings is wrong or bad and I need to make them go away–things feel better.
I realize that’s what helps my students when they are struggling. It helps them dial things down. I need to set boundaries, but if I do whatever I need to do with an attitude of warmth and concern for them that is unfailing, it helps them to stabilize themselves in a lot of cases.
It’s the opposite of what I have kind of felt I ought to be doing, which is kind of set boundaries, take responsibility for your own problems, encourage other people to do the same.
I knew to “take care of myself” but the idea that this might involve feelings of warmth and concern didn’t dawn on me. And there it is. Studies have been done in it. It makes you feel better.