Self-empathy and suicide prevention
Self-empathy is characterized by the ability to empathize with ourselves before empathizing with others. For this it is necessary to understand that what I see, feel and need may be a little or very different from other people, and understanding these differences helps us to relate better.
It is evident that in order to relate better, it is necessary to make an effort to understand the reality of others, but is understanding such reality “reading the other”?
We affirm that no, to understand this reality it is necessary to listen, which often requires asking the correct questions, so that from the answers it is possible to reach this understanding. Of course it’s not an easy task, but in addition to having the chance to understand the other, we can also understand each other and, therefore, self-empathy.
Importantly, every task requires energy, but it is not spiritual energy but brain glucose. But how so? Our brain weighs less than 5% of our total body weight, but consumes close to 20% of all the energy we produce from our food. Glucose is our fuel for everything and that includes self-empathy and empathy. Therefore, it can be concluded that: it is necessary to be whole.
Being whole means not being tired or exhausted, but how can we be whole and ready to recognize or understand the other without first understanding what exactly “being whole” is for each of us? How can I try to understand the other if I can’t even understand how I’m feeling? These are subjective and complex questions, where the answer can be found within each individual. But in many cases, this understanding requires professional help. This is the case of those with suicidal ideation, as they cannot see a way out of their suffering on their own.
How to exercise self-empathy?
If we understand that the first step towards empathy is listening to the other, for the practice of self-empathy it is necessary to listen to ourselves, but how to do this in practice?
The first step is to be realistic about yourself, to understand that you are not alone in the world, even though you feel that way.
With the exercise of self-empathy, it is possible to recognize our limits and understand what we are feeling, when we feel, what reactions in our body accompany such feelings, only this way we really know how much space we have to invest in each other.
The energy needed to have empathy is also essential to exercise self-empathy, synonymous with self-knowledge that enables self-care, that is, respect for what is important to you, which probably includes good nutrition, exercise, good sleep, habits that generate more energy for the body. But they are subjective and private, each person needs to find out how to dose these ingredients.
If to exercise empathy it is necessary to listen to the other and ask the right questions, in the exercise of self-empathy what is heard is the body and mind, always paying attention to the symptoms that the body presents and how we feel. Only from this active listening to ourselves, together with listening to the other, together with the recognition of my limits, do we understand where I “meet the other”.
Self-empathy and suicide prevention
How can self-empathy be used as a suicide prevention tool?
From self-empathy it is possible to recognize what we call the suffering mind, this suffering consumes a lot of the energy we use to exercise self-empathy and hinders this process, so treatments are essential.
The taboo around the subject of suicide, makes many of these deaths have other causes recorded as sudden death or accident, for example. On the other hand, many who do not hide their suicide end up romanticizing it and, unintentionally, motivating other suicide attempts. To reduce both, we need to talk about this suffering mind. Everyone who is suffering needs skilled professional help.
According to the portal “Our World in Data”, about 98% of those who commit suicide have a mental disorder. The vast majority, depression, a disease that has treatment and needs to be seen as a temporary state. But in these cases, the person with depression thinks it will be like that forever. So why live? The mind of the depressed person with suicidal thoughts is a mind with unbearable suffering – and one that needs help. Thus, suicide cannot be seen as courage or cowardice, but rather as an act of desperation to get rid of suffering – which has treatment.