Empathizing 2.0: The Love-Fear Spectrum of Feelings

Part Three in Three-Part Series

Photo by Torsten Dederichs on Unsplash

Part Three by guest blogger Dorset Campbell-Ross  CNVC Certified Trainer, Australia 

Note from Dian: In part three of this series on connecting with younger parts, Dorset Campbell-Ross further explores this form of deep self-empathy, offering practical tools to soothe these parts and give them an opportunity to be heard. 

I invited Dorset to write on this topic after we exchanged some ideas on the CNVC Certified Trainers list and discovered that we each had developed, on opposite sides of the earth, some similar and yet distinct practices. I very much am enjoying this international connection and sense of shared experience!

If you missed Part One, you can see it here and Part Two here.

If we imagine ourselves having no feelings, we can extrapolate in one direction towards fear and terror, and in the other direction towards the opposite of fear:  love and peace. 

The spectrum looks like this:

Dorset’s Love-Fear spectrum, illustrated by Milo Wissig (Work Collaboratively, Inc)

Now I am committed to noticing, as quickly as possible, whenever I am moving out of my comfort zone into discomfort. 

As soon as I feel uncomfortable, (i.e. moving from love into fear) it is time for me to self-connect and find out what is going on. If I’m feeling wobbly, I take some space to return to my center and to return to love, which resides in my heart, which is my essence, and which is who I am.

Photo by Drew Graham on Unsplash

Using eye-to-eye gazing and conscious breathing to return to love: Joining as one

I visualise or look directly at the eyes of the one I love. If this is not possible I use a picture of anyone I love. I choose one eye to focus on so my eyes do not keep dancing from one eye to the other. I look into this eye deeply. 

On the in-breath, I feel energy coming from the eye into me and descending into my lungs. 

On the out-breath, I return the energy from my body to theirs. 

Their eyes are looking at me, and I imagine them breathing with me in synch. I feel my breath go down into my lungs, chest and heart, and connect me to my body and my feelings. I feel myself relax, and I let go of my tension. I feel myself begin to trust more and fear less. Finally, I am aware that my heart is opening and love is flowing throughout my body. There is a feeling of warmth that spreads out from my heart to my whole body. I imagine this energy returning to my lover, and then returning to me again through her eyes. So there is a circuit in which our energies are mixed. It is a deeply loving and healing experience. She has a similar experience (of connection and love).

What is the optimum way of dealing with interpersonal conflicts in intimate relationships?

The optimum way is to be able to stay connected with yourself and your inner child and stay connected with your partner and their inner child. 

To realise that when they are “overreacting,” your partner is speaking from the part of them that is the wounded child. The wounded child is attacking or defending in this way because they believe their survival depends on it.

When anyone expresses strong negative emotions (e.g. resentment or fear), they are crying “Help!” and are longing for their inner child’s pain to be heard. They want to be seen and to matter.

If we can remember this we can speak not to the adult, but to the inner child — the one the voice is coming from — and speak exactly as if we were talking to that child for real, who had just experienced some threat or fright. In doing so, we do not take any of their attacking words personally, so we’re not tempted to attack or defend back. 

Photo by Jossuha Théophile on Unsplash

How would we talk to a suffering child? 

We would not rationalise, fix, educate, or chastise the child. 

We would open our hearts and arms, and empathise in the gentle soft tone and body language of one speaking to a child: “Oh, sweetheart, was that really scary for you? Do you want a hug? How can I help you?” 

We would listen very carefully to their words because we want that child part of them to know he/she really matters.

We carry within all of us our entire life history. When we speak with each other we are not just conversing adult to adult. As soon as we/they over-react to fear by either attacking or defending, we know we/they have regressed into childhood. 

We seek love and partnership, driven by our longing to heal our childhood wounds, and reach our highest potential. 

No surprise then that an intimate relationship is actually an invitation to grow in consciousness and address all those parts of ourselves that are not healed or fully alive. Those parts that have been suppressed or repressed and long to be released. 

Thank you Dorset for contributing these guest blogs! To learn more about Dorset and his work, visit https://nvcworks.com/

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