Build a foundation
Compassion by definition is sympathy of others; distress with a desire to alleviate it. Turning this powerhouse of emotion toward ourselves is phenomenally life altering. If we can harness the ability to practice compassion for ourselves then we can most definitely do it for others. As within so without, as the old adage goes. How often do we hold ourselves to a higher standard than we do others? Demanding that we not only take care of our own responsibilities but also meeting the needs of others. What a tall order to fill. And to assume what other people need without them asking is quite presumptuous, not to mention exhausting. You may think striving for perfection might get you somewhere in the vicinity to perfect but it doesn’t. It’s quite blinding, actually. An example is the notion in which there are two representations of perfectionists; those who overly achieve and those who never start because they don’t think it will be good enough. Both are painful and energy sucking. Having compassion for yourself requires self-awareness. We all have different parts to the whole of who we are. Being aware of the part that works extra hard to accomplish, achieve or fix something is a good sign that you’re dealing with a skewed idea. Rough edges are a wonderful indicator to look a little further into what that edge is protecting. Perfectionism is an enigmatic mask to not feeling good enough. This mask can, for some time, cover the fear. Each time something is completed with the idea of it being “perfect” the wound of not feeling good enough is temporally soothed. This of course, is only one way ineffective coping skill to deny that, oh so, uncomfortable false belief. No matter what comes up, if you can find some compassion for any part of yourself and really open your heart to it, it’s very hopeful that the wound will heal. Shame is extremely painful and mostly isolating, but if you can find some compassion for the sheer fact that shame is painful and it’s really hard to experience then you have something to build on. Amazing things can be built on just one idea.
Bridgette DeBoer M.A., is a licensed alcohol and drug counselor, marriage and family therapist. She can be reached at 450-6632.