Bring your life into balance

Empathy works. It always does.

Self-compassion, day 12: Autonomy


You cannot change someone. You might want to. The world might seem so much yummier if such-and-such behaved so-and-so. But you can’t. It is beyond your scope of influence.

You can only change your response to them. That’s it.

“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” Viktor Frankl

I have found great delight in the strategy of nót responding when I am upset. Of delaying expressing myself. Of absorbing what the other person said or did. And let it be.

Thich Nhat Hanh

Thich Nhat Hanh

Thich Nhat Hanh teaches us to not speak or act when we are angry, and I finally get it.

Something happens, and my habitual response is to react. Now I bring my attention to my belly. I notice if my belly is tight, or loose like a Buddha belly. The attention itself relaxes my belly. I bring my attention to my breath. I notice if it is deep down, or more constricted in my chest. I don’t change it, I just observe it. I focus my attention on something I enjoy. Working, walking, talking to a friend. I pause my painful feelings, and create feelings of happiness and joy. I will get back to the painful feelings when I am calmer.

Then something resolves. The anger mellows out. It is not such a big deal anymore. Nothing serious happened. Just someone who needed help, and didn’t quite know how to ask for it. I don’t have to have a big conversation about it. I can let it go. If something big happens, I can talk about it when I am calm. For now, let me focus on the important things. Let me save energy for connection and understanding.

Contact me, if you want my help to bring more self-compassion, healing and integration in your life.

Author: Elly van Laar

I am a coach. I specialize in helping mission-driven professionals bring their lives into balance. I have a Master's degree in Political Science, Leiden University, the Netherlands. I'm currently in an ICF-coaching certification program. I love meditation, walking, gardening, biking, and hanging out with family and friends.

2 thoughts on “Self-compassion, day 12: Autonomy

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