Yesterday, I cracked open yet another self-help book–one I’ve been wanting to read because it is magically going to tell me how to be self-compassionate.
The very first chapter made me stop and think. This chapter dealt with our perception of pain and with it came a novel idea (to me): Pain is increased when we resist it. Pain is decreased when we accept it.
In fact, the more resistance that we feel, the more our pain amplifies and turns into suffering.
This is a very unnatural way of thinking for me. I am the queen of burying my needs and hiding my emotions. I am the master of “Smile and Fake It.”
When I go to therapy, I often sit on her couch and start to cry. Immediately, I begin to hold my breath and avert my eyes. I stare at this piece of artwork on her wall, clenching my jaw and willing myself to JUST. GET. IT. TOGETHER.
And it hurts. I really want to let it all out–but I fear breaking apart. So, instead, I hold it in.
The thing is–holding it in is not helping me. When I hold “it” in (whatever “it” might be), I take it home with me and I ruminate over it. Over and over.
And over again.
That is when the suffering, the misery, and the self-blame/shame/hate game begins.
I have been struggling this month.
When I close my eyes and think about how I feel, I literally visualize a deep muddy hole. I am stuck at the bottom, standing in two inches of water, trying to claw my way up the slippery walls. I can see the sun at the top. I just can’t get there.
I’ve been wondering–am I throwing myself a pity party? Am I a narcissist? (I don’t think I am–but then again, that’s probably what a narcissist would think.) Am I simply going to therapy seeking sympathy instead of healing?
…I don’t think so.
So, today, when I read this first chapter, I forced myself to consider–what if pain–a universal human experience–is okay? What if worry, and anxiety, and sadness, and grief–are okay? And normal? What if I can just tell myself, “You are feeling depressed. This is a hard month. It is okay to feel what you are feeling,” rather than, “God, why are you so depressed? What is wrong with you? Why can’t you just be positive and look on the bright side?”
With the first response, I could actually acknowledge my feelings and allow myself to feel them. Then what?
Then maybe I could move on. (That’s a novel idea).
The way I’ve been doing it definitely isn’t working. The more I tell myself that I need to stop, question why I am feeling this way, the more I get STUCK.
I don’t wanna be stuck here anymore.
I think, if I’m going to be stuck in that hole, I need to stop waiting for someone else to throw me a lifeline and help me out. While I’m waiting for that, I’m simply panicking more.
Instead, I need to look around and acknowledge that I am there. Accept it, and calmly find my way out.
It’s not normal for me. It won’t be easy.
But I’m willing to try.