Survivors on the whole, are pretty compassionate people. We've been through some pretty horrible things, and for many of us, that means that we feel empathy or compassion towards anyone else who's going through a hard time. In this community especially, we're able to feel compassion for others, regardless of what it is they're going through. Many of us also feel that compassion towards animals, offering a similar type of protection and support to our four-legged friends.
However, something that a large amount of survivors struggle with is compassion for themselves. Whether it comes from our abusers, who told us we were horrible people, or whether it comes from feeling like a burden or from depression - many of us have a hard time remembering to be gentle and supportive with ourselves. Sometimes, it can be very difficult to see our own worth. Who we are sometimes feels so buried underneath our confusion and pain, that we can't see how we treat ourselves as opposed to others in our lives.
Many of us have or have had a different set of rules for everyone else than we have for ourselves - feeling that our own actions are less forgivable than someone else's. Those feelings, while they can help us in some regards, often hinder us just as much. We do not allow ourselves to make mistakes, though we are able to have a healthy view of other people and their mistakes. It's always harder to have perspective on a situation when you're involved in it, so that's what this week's questions are all about - self compassion and how to remember to let ourselves have some
This week's questions:
- In what ways are you not giving yourself the same compassion as others?
- In what ways do you give yourself the same compassion as others?
- What ways can you remind yourself to treat you with the same compassion as others?
I know this is a tough one this week, but don't be afraid to talk it out :)
My first instinct is to not give myself any slack. Sometimes if I even make the slightest mistake, like bumping into someone in a store or at home, I'll apologize profusely and worry about it. Though I've gotten better about the worrying, I still compulsively apologize. My husband has grown used to saying, "It's okay for you to bump me, we're in the same space" because of it. It probably comes mostly from my main abuser - my father. I walked a fine line with him as to what was okay, and what would "instigate" abuse. So I grew used to blaming myself for being hurt. And as I got older, and got away from abusers, that instinct to watch my behavior really closely turned into watching myself closely to make sure I would never *become* an abuser. So, especially, if I feel like someone is counting on me for something, I still feel very unforgiving towards myself - like letting them down in the slightest is abusing them. If I make a mistake when someone's counting on me, I'll be upset about it for days; if a friend that I'm counting on makes a mistake, I can usually brush it off and cope just fine. It's amazing sometimes how much I still need to remind myself to be compassionate with me.
I am getting much better, though, about being compassionate with myself on a small scale. If I make a mistake, I no longer allow myself to say, "Well that was stupid of me" - instead I say, "Made a mistake, try again". It's a small change, but for me it had a big effect. A friend of mine once asked me to treat myself like I would treat any friend of hers - as I'd naturally treat the friend of a friend with respect and compassion. It took me trying to think of myself as some random third party to get my brain around treating myself with compassion. But so with smaller things, I'm getting better about treating myself with compassion. Not calling myself stupid, knowing to ask for reassurance if I feel I've let someone down horribly, and knowing to pull myself out of my cycle of self-blame once I realize I'm doing it.
I usually remind myself by thinking back to what my friend said to me: "Treat yourself like you're my friend, because you are" I try to imagine what *she'd* say to me in the same situation, and try to remember how many times I've told someone else that mistakes happen. Sometimes I even go through responses I've left to members of this community if I'm really struggling. Because I know I remind others that mistakes are entirely normal and okay - so looking back over them reminds me that my mistakes are just as okay, too