Calming our Inner Fires (part 2, with water)
If you’ve read my previous blog post, you might be asking: “What about water? Why can’t you just put water on the fire to put it out?” Well, you can!
Last post, I looked at the approach of Allowing feelings to just be as they are. This is the approach of letting the metaphorical fire die down on its own and to give up throwing more logs onto the fire – via self-criticism, running from your feelings, or fighting with your feelings.
So the key is that first you need to give up adding more fuel to the fire before you can pick up the water to put it out.
What is the water in this metaphor? It’s compassion. It’s love, care, and the intention to heal. Water is healing and can calm the flames within.
If you’ve ever been really upset and then gone and talked to a close friend or family member – someone who understands you and cares for you – you know how healing compassion can be for your difficult emotions.
This is really the opposite of the self-criticism strategy from before. This is saying things like:
- “I see you anger, I care about you and how you feel.”
- “Hi there anxiety, I wish you peace today.”
- Or just speaking to yourself “Hello (me), I see how hard this is right now, I’m sorry you’re feeling this way, I hope you feel better soon.”
Have you ever had a pet that you loved unconditionally? Or a small child that really opened your heart?
It’s treating yourself like that. Like no matter how much you screw up, you will always be there for yourself and care for yourself.
Like even if you fail at everything and you say something stupid in front of your crush… you are still there for yourself, to love yourself no matter what.
Self-love and self-compassion is the water. Try it out. Put your hand over your heart and say kind things to yourself.
When you combine letting go of adding fuel to the fire, allowing feelings to be, and add self-compassion, you become a powerful healer of your heart.
It takes practice, especially if this is new to you. And the support of other people can help a lot. Seeing a therapist can help. And knowing that no one is perfect makes it easier.
I hope these posts have brought healing and care to you.
Until next time,
Ellis Edmunds, Psy.D.
Therapy for Anxiety, Panic, and Relationship Stress