Do you often feel you're letting yourself down? You're not alone.
When facing a dramatic change in your life, it forces you to change. Thoughts of who am I now, where am I going and how do I let go of the old creep in suddenly and you easily see yourself lost in an endless battle to find yourself again. Just like suddenly losing a loved one, you have now lost a part of you and your identity.
Living with an illness that comes with constant surprises and even the doctors, who you thought knew everything and are taught to know-it-all, are now confused as to how to explain what you have and how to deal with it, is not the path you were dreaming of to have. Now, maybe some of the things you are experiencing might differ, but I dare to say our struggles are more similar and common than one might think. What I am trying to say is that what really challenges you is not what you are suffering from, but how you are able to cope with it.
Maybe you have heard the TED talk of Dr. Brené Brown, "Listening to shame", and if you haven't, please do. It's amazing. Now why I am bringing up her talk, is to understand the bigger picture behind our quest to find and love our new selves. As we face these challenges we find ourselves more vulnerable than ever before. Many of us see vulnerability as a weakness, but Dr. Brené Brown defines it as "emotional risk, exposure and uncertainty, and our most accurate measurement of courage". When talking about vulnerability we cannot dismiss talking about shame. Now we are coming to the core essence of finding self-compassion. Shame feeds on two type of thoughts: You're never good enough and Who do you think you are. Thing to understand about shame is that it is not guilt. Shame is focus on self, while guilt is focused on behavior. When you make a mistake in your life, a shameful response is "I am bad" as guilt is "I did something bad". To name a few, shame is highly correlated with addiction, depression, addiction, violence, aggression, bullying and eating disorders. Guilt is inversely correlated with those things and empathy is the best weapon against shame.
Now you might think, why did we get off track, but in reality we are at the core of everything. So often you hear people saying they can't get rid of the guilt they feel when they have let themselves or others down, when in reality it is all about shame. We feel like we are bad because we are not able to comply with the rules we made for ourselves before our illness. We do not let go of the expectations we had for that picture perfect future we were planning. Never mind the stress from just trying to find our way again with the hardest challenges most of us have had to face, but the stress we put ourselves in with the lack of self-compassion. Honestly, many times it is not others who are pointing the finger and saying "we are not good enough", but ourselves. We are our biggest critic, no one else, it is us.
Practicing empathy is our only way out. We need to be empathetic towards ourselves and love our best selves in any given moment. You see, no one else is stopping you to grow internally, find the new you and the new path in front of you, except yourself. It takes bravery to let go of the old and embrace the new. Your time is now, not yesterday, not tomorrow, now. Please be brave to say "no" when you are not able to do something and not let yourself fall down in self-judgment. You are the best you in any given moment. Let's embrace our new selves and love ourselves like never before.