It is mid-winter here in Melbourne and so it is hardly surprising that I am thinking about warmth, in particular the emotional tone of warmth. I could also say a metaskill of warmth. Taken from Processwork a metaskill is a feeling attitude or tone, a quality to how a person does something that is most often more important than whatever it is they do.
Warmth is critical when thinking about distress tolerance and I have to admit I had never thought about distress tolerance until today. Sitting in a warm cafe on winter’s day I read an article a colleague had shared this week and started thinking about distress tolerance. It’s the ability to hold or tolerate distress in another without trying to fix or change something. It’s needed when encountering painful feelings, like grief without trying to make it better – nothing makes it better anyway. The warmth not to judge, to accept rather than criticise, to hold.
Warmth for another is one thing, what about for oneself? Imagine cultivating distress tolerance for your own inner criticisms and attacking. Warmth from others fosters the development of warmth for ourselves, our feelings and our distress. Self-caring, being gently sensitive to ourselves will warm any emotional winter. It might not be easy to feel deserving of that warmth and you are, and I am. It’s cold outside, and our fallible, critical, insufficient, perfect, selves need warmth.