I remember a really crucial turning point in my own recovery from cptsd was in early 2015, just about half a year after discovering what was ailing me, and this question popped into my head.
“Even if I never recovered an ounce more than I am right at this moment, am I worthy of being loved (by both myself and others)?”
I decided the answer to that question was ‘yes’ for me personally and I also believe the answer is ‘yes’ for most people, though they may not all believe it. After I answered my question it furthered my resolve to learn how to be more consistently self compassionate.
If you’re looking for specific ways to practice self compassion, below is a list of the fourteen most common ways we tend to abuse ourselves in thought and ways to correct that thought to something more realistic and helpful.
My perfectionism arose as an attempt to gain safety and support in my dangerous family. Perfection is a self-persecutory myth. I do not have to be perfect to be safe or loved in the present. I am letting go of relationships that require perfection. I have a right to make mistakes. Mistakes do not make me a mistake. Every mistake or mishap is an opportunity to practice loving myself in the places I have never been loved.
All-or-None & Black-and-White Thinking
I reject extreme or overgeneralized descriptions, judgments or criticisms. One negative happenstance does not mean I am stuck in a never-ending pattern of defeat. Statements that describe me as “always” or “never” this or that, are typically grossly inaccurate.
Self-Hate, Self-Disgust & Toxic Shame
I commit to myself. I am on my side. I am a good enough person. I refuse to trash myself. I turn shame back into blame and disgust, and externalize it to anyone who shames my normal feelings and foibles. As long as I am not hurting anyone, I refuse to be shamed for normal emotional responses like anger, sadness, fear and depression. I especially refuse to attack myself for how hard it is to completely eliminate the self-hate habit.
I will not repetitively examine details over and over. I will not jump to negative conclusions. I will not endlessly second-guess myself. I cannot change the past. I forgive all my past mistakes. I cannot make the future perfectly safe. I will stop hunting for what could go wrong. I will not try to control the uncontrollable. I will not micromanage myself or others. I work in a way that is “good enough”, and I accept the existential fact that my efforts sometimes bring desired results and sometimes they do not. “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference” – The Serenity Prayer
Unfair/Devaluing Comparisons To others or to one’s most perfect moments.
I refuse to compare myself unfavorably to others. I will not compare “my insides to their outsides”. I will not judge myself for not being at peak performance all the time. In a society that pressure us into acting happy all the time, I will not get down on myself for feeling bad.
Feeling guilty does not mean I am guilty. I refuse to make my decisions and choices from guilt; sometimes I need to feel the guilt and do it anyway. In the inevitable instance when I inadvertently hurt someone, I will apologize, make amends, and let go of my guilt. I will not apologize over and over. I am no longer a victim. I will not accept unfair blame. Guilt is sometimes camouflaged fear. – “I am afraid, but I am not guilty or in danger”.
I will substitute the words “want to” for “should” and only follow this imperative if it feels like I want to, unless I am under legal, ethical or moral obligation.
I am a human being not a human doing. I will not choose to be perpetually productive. I am more productive in the long run, when I balance work with play and relaxation. I will not try to perform at 100% all the time. I subscribe to the normalcy of vacillating along a continuum of efficiency.
Harsh Judgments of Self & Others/Name-Calling
I will not let the bullies and critics of my early life win by joining and agreeing with them. I refuse to attack myself or abuse others. I will not displace the criticism and blame that rightfully belongs to them onto myself or current people in my life. “I care for myself. The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself”. – Jane Eyre
I feel afraid but I am not in danger. I am not “in trouble” with my parents. I will not blow things out of proportion. I refuse to scare myself with thoughts and pictures of my life deteriorating. No more home-made horror movies and disaster flicks.
I renounce over-noticing & dwelling on what might be wrong with me or life around me. I will not minimize or discount my attributes. Right now, I notice, visualize and enumerate my accomplishments, talents and qualities, as well as the many gifts Life offers me, e.g., friends, nature, music, film, food, beauty, color, pets, etc.
I am not in danger. I do not need to rush. I will not hurry unless it is a true emergency. I am learning to enjoy doing my daily activities at a relaxed pace.
Disabling Performance Anxiety
I reduce procrastination by reminding myself that I will not accept unfair criticism or perfectionist expectations from anyone. Even when afraid, I will defend myself from unfair criticism. I won’t let fear make my decisions.
Perseverating About Being Attacked
Unless there are clear signs of danger, I will thought-stop my projection of past bully/critics onto others. The vast majority of my fellow human beings are peaceful people. I have legal authorities to aid in my protection if threatened by the few who aren’t. I invoke thoughts and images of my friends’ love and support.
If you find that many of these thought patterns are affecting you negatively, feel free to check out more of Dr. Pete Walker’s information on complex trauma at http://www.pete-walker.com.