Do we have enough compassion and understanding towards ourselves? Or it is just better to let some things go and let it be even though we would compromise something just to avoid some conflicts. Especially when around the corner is Christmas and lots of celebrations it so easy to just forget who deserves first the most of your compassion.
I know how great it feels to help someone and bring joy to them. However, sometimes maybe it brings more pressure than joy. Pressure to give the “right” gift to a family member, to plan enough time for everyone or just to not disappoint a friend. And the list goes on especially when there is also a personal relationship involved. So in this case I need to have enough compassion towards my partner so I would not look like I care less about this person. And all of this can be really stressful especially for those who are struggling with social anxiety and fear of judgment. It is so easy to get lost in this circle where you are not included.
So this time of the year I ask you to give yourself a special gift – compassion. Compassion towards yourself, love yourself and to be understanding of all the good and bad moments. No matter how stressful you are feeling try to come back to yourself and start building again your circle but now first including yourself. And to have a happy you is the greatest gift you can give to yourself and then to others.
Self – compassion is simply giving the same kindness to ourselves that we would give to others. Christopher Germer
I have recently started to notice that my practice of speaking up and just doing things which have made me really uncomfortable for many years has been finally working. To finally starting to believe in results and seeing that I can overcome myself has taken me over 1 year and it is definitely an ongoing process. But to see that I can look over my fears and step by step express my true self strengthens my hope that it is possible to be free. Free as I have always wanted to be but did not dare to be.
Therefore, today I am grateful that I was able to start my journey of practice and no matter how hard or scary it has been I still have managed to push through and move forward. With the practice also came better understanding on how my mind and emotions function. What are the triggers for anxiety and my fears and how to better reduce them. And after each time I pushed myself I realized that actually it is not that terrible and I can do it next time again.
So today I can say that it is true that only by practicing things which make us afraid and uncomfortable will help us overcome them. With time it will get easier and fears will slowly decrease and one day they will be so quiet that you will be living in peace with yourself. Note that practice period for each person is different so do not be discouraged by how long it takes and just push through – because you deserve to be free.
Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear. Mark Twain
Last few weeks I am more intensively feeling resistance from my scared part which is always hiding and choosing excuses over action. Especially when it comes to go out or do something new and unknown. It is just quietly whispering: “Why should I do that? It is better to stay as it is. It can be only more stressful and riskier.” And so these past few weeks it is more like a fight with my own self. The more I question this part the more resistance I get. It expands to uncomfortable feeling and pressure within. It feels so comfortable to give in and stay safe but from the other side I know it is wrong. And I will say that I have been mostly doing that and staying safe. But then it still does not feel right, it does not bring peace and safety as I thought. It is just for a moment but the day after I know I am feeling again disappointed because I did not do something that could be beneficial to me. And knowing that I chose fear over myself makes me a bit angry.
It always comes to feeling like I am standing in front of a big wall and the other side is just too unknown to be explored. And then I just feel like I am living in a prison made by myself. Knowing that I am the only thing standing from being free seems really easy and I have set myself free 100 of times. But somehow I am still not free or at least free as I would want. I can say I have improved a lot but knowing that my resistant part is still there sometimes makes things harder.
One thing I can say is that one of the biggest steps towards being free from my prison was acknowledging that something is not working right. That the way I was living before was not anymore suitable for me. I was far away from events which caused certain behavior and I should have put them behind me. However, after I started to question myself I realized I am still stuck in those events. So through past year I am learning how to trust people and that I do not need to fear them. I learned that in general people do not wish me bad as I have always imagined and that it is ok to meet with them. One benefit of going out and not letting fear take over was joining a German class where I learned that people are mostly good and they are not against me. And for me this was a big realization. Because I had always thought first that they will hate me and be against me. It also makes easier to speak up and accept that others will disagree and it is ok so.
You can just start with asking one question to yourself if you feel something is not working right and then there will come more and more until you will start to get some answers. These questions will guide you to things and places where you have always wanted to be but did not dare to try. So step by step.
Find comfort in questioning yourself. Bryant Mcgill
I have been reading a book about understanding social anxiety and one of its chapters described how people with social anxiety do not recognize their strengths and the first thought that comes in their mind is their flaws and weaknesses. And once asked to say what are their strengths it is somehow harder to do it. While reading this I was trying to do that for myself but there I was a bit stuck and unable to clearly say what my strengths are. But immediately I was able to say what I thought was wrong with me and which weaknesses I had. Then I realized that because of this first reaction and instant self-doubt I am thinking that I do not deserve anything better I just need to settle for something even if I do not feel that it is the best fit for me. Why I should speak up and ask for what I want if I do not think I am good enough? It is just an unnecessary action and anyway I will be not able to have what I want.
But before I had never thought that maybe I do deserve and I have a right to freely say what I want without feeling guilty or afraid. Even though I am practicing this approach more and more in my daily communication there are moments where it is harder then I thought. Mostly when I know what I want will be different from the other person and that it could lead to a disappointment or maybe an argument. And here I still sometimes sell myself short and put my opinion second and maybe even decide to not express it. This is what I need to learn a bit more and take step by step because before always the first thought was no I cannot and to change that takes time. Only while practicing again and again I will be able to feel more secure about my decisions because that is what matters to me.
So in order to think how weak I am because of these few times I did not speak up I will say that it takes a strong person to overcome self built prison and really move forward with a change for the better. And this is one of the biggest strengths I have. We all deserve the best for us no matter how hard it can sometimes get.
The strongest people are not those who show strength in front of us but those who win battles we know nothing about.
The chaos inside me for now has been decreased and silenced. However, still some rushing thoughts remind me of those days. And so my rational thinking is stepping in and I am being able to better evaluate my behavior and to decrease irrational fears. It also helps better keep calm before speaking up for myself and expressing my thoughts even if they would differ from someone else. Even though in silence I have always had an opinion but saying it loudly was not my strongest ability and somehow scary.
During my practice of speaking up and having different opinions I realized that for some people and even for some family members it was not considered as a positive trend. Even though they seemed to be fine with me before now when I had something to say it was different. I could feel some distance from them because I was always the one saying yes, agreeing on most of the things and always supporting them even if I thought it was not such a good idea. So they got used to my old behavior and now when I am trying to speak up it is something strange and unusual. I am not validating their behavior and putting them first as it was before.
I started to notice this pattern recently and it made me feel quite strange and also somehow lonely. Since I have used to seek validation from others and not being judged it was quite sad to receive such a different reactions and especially from family. I have always thought that family should stick up for each other and support each other no matter what. But from another point I should not be surprised because for the most of the time it has been about them and supporting them no matter what. And I would do that again but now with more respect towards myself.
It also explains my question why I had so many unsuccessful relationships with others. I have always thought that it is better to be silence and it is easier to say yes. Then I would have no disagreements and people would just like me. But it do not guarantee that it is the right relationship, that it will be good also for me. So now when I am receiving such a different reactions I am grateful for that even though I am feeling sad. Because now I can clearly see who is there for me no matter what and this gives me a motivation to try to speak up more and to not be afraid so much of others. Even more it gives me a hope that one day I will be able to be free as it was meant to be for me.
I know it can be really scary and sometimes too hard but no matter what reactions you receive do not be afraid to speak up because only by doing so you can understand for yourself who is there to stay and who is there to go for the best.
Speak up, because the day you don’t speak up for the things that matter to you is the day your freedom truly ends.
Fear – one part of my body which is always there. If not active it waits for that trigger moment to attack. Fear – it is starting with a racing heart, hard breathing, heavy feeling in my chest area, shaky hands and just feeling hopeless. Like it will never end and there is no way out to stop it. And in that moment I am alone and no one can help me to escape it. Even more when you are put in a corner and pressured form an outside world – how you stand up for yourself? How to listen to your gut if you are so confused and lost that only word I can hear is to run. Run and never look back but I cannot, I am frozen in the moment. So there I am just sitting looking so calm but deeply inside I am frozen. Frozen form fear and unable to function. Waiting for the storm to pass until the next time.
I ask myself why I am still feeling like that and allowing myself to put me down. Even though one year has passed since I started to work on myself, I am stuck still in my fears and I am feeling like a kid in a school bullied by my classmates and sitting there quietly waiting when it will end. So here I am again wondering what would be if someone then would have finally listened to that girl and helped to feel safe. But it will always stay as a thought because here I am many years later still stuck in my emotions unable to move on and live.
I am not sure if I can ever feel unstuck but I am not yet giving up.
Frozen by fear. Not able to move. Your mind screaming… James Dashner
I am currently finishing an amazing book which has helped me to understand better why I am the way I are. Why I have some parts of me which I would like to forget and leave it in a past – fearful, silent and closed. At some point sometimes too fearful that I am not able to open up and be in a healthy relationship not only with people around but also with myself.
The book is by Bessel van der Kolk M.D “The Body Keeps the Score” – where the author detailed describes how the trauma stays locked in the body and where it all begins starting from our brain and how the aftermath of a trauma can be better understood and treated.
One year ago through a therapy I started my journey of understanding and overcoming myself. However, I was not completely able to understand why I have certain body reactions when I need to interact with people and why it is so hard to keep calm inside and not go into anxiety mode. Was there something more that I have not thought about. I got some explanations during my sessions as well but still I had some missing pieces. I asked my therapist And so I accidently found in the internet this book and I bought it. After I received it I started to read chapter by chapter and my missing pieces slowly were coming together and I could finally start to answer my question – why? It was so fascinating to read how the body locks the trauma and fear inside it and how any trigger can bring me to a mode of war inside myself and feeling again the same fear and just shutting down.
I am still on the way to learn how to deal with my emotions and saying my body – it is ok there is not anymore reason to feel afraid. That part of my life is past, however, I know it still remembers and that is why it is so hard to release and move on. But thanks to the book I have much greater understanding and compassion towards myself. The following quote just perfectly describes who I lost during my times in the darkness.
We can hardly bear to look. The shadow may carry the beast of the life we have not lived. Go into the basement, the attic, the refused bin. Find gold there. Find an animal who has not been fed or watered. It is you!! This neglected, exiled animal, hungry for attention, is a part of your self. – Marion Woodman –
It looks like this week is one of those times when most of the plans are just not happening as planned. Even weather is against me so I decided to let go and go with the flow. I know again I am saying to myself “go with the flow” but somehow even if I am fighting against that it just happens. Of course I feel a bit tension in the chest and my usual thoughts want to come out but today I feel stronger to just say “No, STOP“. I will not go to that dark place and make me feel bad about myself, about the day and at the end about everything. Resistance always makes it worse and I should be much more compassionate to myself when outside is not working in my favor.
I know so well that it is hard to follow that but when I look back to my life and different periods the more I was resistant and pushy nothing was working in my favor. And it got me more anxious and frustrated because things were not happening as I wanted. But then I did not think that maybe there is another path I need to go and the more resistant I was the slower things were going to improve. And one of the examples was my move to the Germany. I was so resistant for some time to consider moving away and starting studies in Germany that it was just not working. Since I was unsatisfied in my job I tried really hard to change it but somehow there were always rejections and so I clearly remember one day I just sat down in my room and said to myself: “Just let it go and see maybe it will work with Germany”. And once I shifted my mind and focus from being frustrated to being more open and relaxed everything fell into place. Of course later there were other challenges and sometimes I was able to keep with the flow but not always. I know for sure I have missed a lot of good moments just because I was too concentrated on the negative and I kept it always in my mind. So these lessons are a good reminder to me to just let it go and relax. It is OK to give myself a break because that it is the only thing I can influence.
Go with the flow. Force nothing. Let it happen… trusting whichever way it goes. It’s for the best. Many Hale
I lied and said I was busy, but not in a way most people understand. I was busy taking deeper breaths. I was busy silencing irrational thoughts. I was busy calming a racing heart. I was busy telling myself I am OK. B Oakman
It sound so familiar to my heart and I have been doing that myself and maybe sometimes too much. Especially when an outside world can be sometimes so overwhelming and in order to calm myself down I need to just shut it down and be in a quiet environment. Because sometimes nothing can be more difficult than to silence a mind going out of control.
It is ok to decide to be alone and to be busy with yourself. The only way to feel better and to get back outside is to be OK and at peace. And from my experience it takes a time to understand that as well. I have so often decided to put myself second and to go further not respecting my need for peace and recharge. Only because I would feel guilty and I would have imagined already 10 reasons how it would hurt someone. Therefore, I just continuously locked my emotions in a box thinking it will go away. But little I knew then that all these actions will lead to an even bigger confusion and chaos in my mind.
In order to avoid that or at least to start to decrease it – it is ok to take a break once in a while and be busy for yourself. It is like a circle – only a happy and peaceful inside will help you to be more a happier and calmer outside.
It is quite fascinating how a persons mind can play with feelings, understanding oneself and the perception of the outside world. How mind can make build walls inside a person to protect from certain situations, people and oneself. And while living like that it is almost impossible to convince the mind to give a break and let go. That it is not anymore necessary and there are no threats around. But still it is like an ongoing engine sometimes slowing down but never stopping.
Even though I have decided to change the way I think in some ways, I still have many rules I am unconsciously following. While looking at my own mind, the behavior of myself and thoughts I noticed a pattern, that for me the most biggest rule comes from the fear of judgment. It just spreads through the whole body and takes over my mind whenever I face potential triggers. The biggest challenge is to keep the rational mind on in close relationships. Once it comes to different opinions or trying to follow my instincts I just step back and feel stuck between my rules – to please others to be liked or to do what is best for me so I would like myself. And it is still hard to do the right thing for me because I have always followed my rule.
Of course for every rule I created in my mind I had a reason in my past. Long time ago I did not have someone giving me advise that everything will be fine and that all bad things will pass. I am learning this just now and this has allowed me to better understand my mind and how I can try to force it to let go of these rules. Furthermore, while talking with other people about similar struggles I was amazed how mind can project things and it is so sad how a mind can lock in someone to fear so much of outside and even oneself. For now I am still my own mind prisoner but just for a bit more..
Rule your mind or it will rule you. Buddha