Posted on 27th July 2018 at 14:49
“Grrrrrrrrrrr! How bloody dare they?”
If you had been inside my head last week that was what you would have heard.
On the outside I was smiling away, but on the inside, I was fuming; my jaw was clenched and there was a definite increase in my huffing and puffing. I did not feel great. After about two days, I remembered that perhaps I could be doing something about how I felt.
The thing was I thought I was doing something about it. I was thinking about it; all the time! I was thinking about my witty responses for the next time I saw the other person; thinking how I could rise above their comments and working out why they had been so unfair in the first place. It turns out that thinking about something, going over and over it in detail was not helping me in the slightest.
I meditate, so I sat with my problem in meditation. I think it’s fair to say I wasn’t meditating. I was ruminating and feeling cross. I could not accept how I was feeling, why should I? After all it wasn’t my fault I was feeling like this! Two more days passed, I was still cross about the original incident but now I was frustrated because I was still feeling angry. “You’re a therapist, you should be able to manage this much more effectively!” shouted the critical voice inside my head. Heads up, having a go at yourself does not make you feel better in any way, shape or form.
So, what did I do? Last Sunday, I gave myself a self-compassion break. I sat myself down and said out loud that I was struggling and that I was hurting inside. I reminded myself that just because the day job is being a CBT therapist it doesn’t mean that I have all the answers, nor does it mean that I don’t experience the full range of human emotions – I reminded myself that we all struggle at some point and that other people often feel this way too. As I did this I put my hand over my heart, spoke kindly to myself and I explored how I was feeling. It took a while but eventually I noticed a shift. I moved towards an acceptance of how I was feeling; this is me, feeling angry and this it’s ok; being angry does not make me a terrible person. I explored the feeling of anger and discovered that I was actually hurt by the original comments and that my hurt had quickly turned to anger. In my anger I could not see any other point of view because I could not think clearly.
Slowing my breathing, giving myself some time, being a friend to myself and talking to myself with self-compassion allowed a shift to take place. I was surprised at how much better I felt and how quickly that change happened (if you ignore the 5 days it took me to activate my self-compassion!).
Self-compassion is great (in fact I’d say it’s awesome) but self-compassion is not our ‘go to place’ when our life gets tough. Tough, is usually the point our inner-critic raises its voice and we end up feeling worse. It is possible, however, for us learn how to be more generous to ourselves, to understand our ourselves and for us to work with the suffering that we experience.
If you would like to find out more about self-compassion, then take a look at www.compassionatemind.co.uk or follow #365daysofcompassion on Twitter.
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