Healing through Self-Compassion

“I’m going to fail; I just know it,” Andrea thought to herself before she started preparing for her exam. Then, her anxiety started to worsen, and she struggled to focus.  Even though Andrea had done well in school, she always felt like she wasn’t good enough.  

Andrea had just gotten out of a verbally and emotionally abusive relationship, and her self-worth was rock bottom. She kept thinking of the words that she heard when her ex used to be angry with her.  “You’re worthless, fat and never going to succeed in life.”  Andrea listened to these words so often that she started to believe in them. She had forgotten how to allow herself the compassion and grace that she readily offered to others. Why would someone who loves me not be honest about who I am? After a while she felt that his words were the reality, and she told herself that what he said must have been the reality. 

Abuse of any kind can lead to feelings of shame, embarrassment, and sometimes anxiety, depression and PTSD.  Self-compassion is a way to reframe the negative words that might be stuck in a loop in your mind. Self-compassion includes speaking to yourself in a nurturing, kind and patient voice that you would use with those you love.  

 

Here are some pointers to allow self-compassion to help you heal and overcome abuse and low self-worth: 

  • Think of your safe person and use their words instead: A safe person you trust and feel secure enough to speak about your thoughts and feelings with them. Imagine what this person would say to you when you don’t believe in yourself.
  • Speak to yourself as you would to someone you love: It can be helpful to say things to yourself like, “I believe in you, you can do this, I will take care of you.”
  • You matter, and you count: Making nutrition and exercise a part of your daily routine will help you feel healthy mentally and physically. When we are healthy, our self-worth and mood tend to improve. Dedicating time to take care of yourself and tune into your body can be restorative. 
  • Meditate on the opposite:  If you feel like a failure, remember the last time you were successful. Close your eyes and try to relive the memory. Where do you feel it in your body? Can you allow that feeling of success to wash over you?  Sit with the feeling as long as you like or need and embrace the positive thoughts and feelings. 
  • Visualize your inner critic:  What is the role of your inner critic?  What does it look like? Try to make your inner critic use a silly voice so that it doesn’t weigh you down. If your inner critic looks like a monster, what does your self-compassionate voice look like?  How can the self-compassionate voice quiet down the inner critic?

Dr Monica Borschel offers EMDR and therapy online through the MindnLife Clinic in Hong Kong. If you would like to set up a session to overcome any past trauma or to understand your relationship patterns, contact the MindNLife Clinic to set up a session with Dr Borschel.