Often, survivors fall into this trap where we can feel lots of compassion for others— but virtually none for ourselves.
It makes NO logical sense— but it FEELS very real.
We can look at others who are struggling, and acknowledge that they “deserve” help and comfort— but when it comes to our own suffering, we just feel…cold.
Many survivors struggle with the feeing that, all evidence to the contrary aside, we must somehow “deserve” what we’re experiencing.
We look at all the ways we fall short of others’ expectations, wants, and needs…and we tell ourselves that’s the “real” us.
The thing is, if anyone else says that about THEMSELVES, we’re often the first to leap up and say that they’re wrong.
Survivors are very often very good at finding the value and beauty in others.
Finding value and beauty in ourselves, though…can be really complicated for us.
Much of that comes from conditioning.
Many of us grew up with the people around us minimizing what we went through.
Even if we were feeling overwhelmed and hurt, we were told to quit being “dramatic.”
Some people reading this are quite familiar with being told to stop crying, or else they’d be given “a reason to cry about.”
Again, we can very often look at somebody ELSE’S experience of this, and be horrified and saddened.
Nobody should have to experience this kind of pain and invalidation.
We can often see how these experiences have negative impacted others’ lives, and we can feel overwhelming compassion for them.
But when it comes to feeling compassion for what WE went through…that old conditioning often kicks in.
We don’t want anyone to think we’re feeling “sorry for ourselves.”
We don’t want to be shamed or punished for being a “sad sack.”
We don’t want anyone to think that we’re not “tough enough” to handle what we went through without reacting or breaking down.
A big part of recovery is finding the ability to reconnect— or maybe just connect with— our ability to empathize with ourselves.
Acknowledging that WE are worth feeling compassion for.
Feeling sad or angry about what WE went through…without worrying about being punished or getting overwhelmed.
Your experience counts. Your pain. Your heartache. Your loss.
Others may have tried, effortfully, to convince you that you’re the one person who DOESN’T deserve the empathy, compassion, and support that you yourself would extend to ANYONE else…but that’s just not true.
Yes, you’re imperfect. You STILL deserve compassion.
Yes, others have had it EXACTLY as bad as they’ve had it in comparison to you. You STILL deserve compassion.
Yes, you may have mixed feelings about the “you” who went through what you went through. You— both that past version of “you” who went through it, and the current version of “you” who is going through what you’re going through RIGHT NOW— STILL deserve compassion.
You are as deserving of compassion, empathy, and relief as any human being who has ever existed on this planet.
In recovery, we very often have to “act as if,” even if we’re not feeling it.
In this context, that means extending ourselves compassion, respect, and, yes love— even if we’re not quite FEELING it just yet.
BEHAVING toward ourselves AS IF we deserve compassion, respect, and love— whether or not we happen to be FEEING it— is a key part of recovery.
Feeling it will come, in time.
First thing’s first: being open to it.