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Looking out
October 08, 2012

    A candle is not there to illuminate itself
    Sufi wisdom quoted by Indries Shah

This lovely quotation is obviously about illuminating the idea that we should be focused outwardly and not on ourselves. But beyond that, I find that it can be understood in two ways. That it is either about being empathetic or about being curious to what we find outside.

In practice of course, we should be both empathetic and curious as they are not mutually exclusive. Nevertheless, there are noteworthy differences. At one level it is about how we engage our emotions as to empathise demands an emotional connection while to be curious demands detachment and a cool head. Second, it is to realise that for empathy to be helpful and to make a difference, then there has to be a sufficiency of emotional control. For otherwise, the emotion will overwhelm and it will not yield much in the way of value for the object of the empathy.

This brings me to my final point. Which is that you can identify one worthwhile exception to the injunction to always be directed outwards? And that is the work we should be doing on ourselves to gain that control of our emotions. To always be mindful of our emotions and by being curious and separate from them, to gain understanding and thereby control.

best wishes

Andrew Richardson
Feelbetter Counselling East London

94 Malford Grove, London E18 2DQ

Direct Line: 0208 257 0429 Mobile: 07870 104651 Skype: famrichhg

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