When someone hurts you, do you immediately imagine where they’re coming from and see their point of view in an effort to forgive and forget?
I was raised Catholic and when I was about 5, I had the very odd ambition of wanting to be a saint. Ideally a martyr (I blame having read waaaayyyyy too many Lives of the Saints books).
As I got older, I stopped going to Mass but hugely admired fictional characters like Atticus Finch (in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, NOT Go Set a Watchman) who turned the other cheek.
While still very pro peace, a key aspect of my work (and I was my first client) is encouraging clients and students to look after themselves first.
When people have experienced interpersonal trauma, been in any kind of minority group or have been bullied, it’s easy to automatically connect with the needs of more powerful people than your own.
But by recognising you deserve so much better, you can set healthy boundaries and maintain them even when people are taking the p.
It’s another practice (progress not perfection) but so worth doing.
Next time you notice yourself being compassionate and empathic towards someone you’re struggling with, ask yourself if you’re also being compassionate and empathic with yourself.
The more we can be whole ourselves, the more we CAN extend that compassion and empathy towards others but now it won’t be in a way that gives mixed messages or leaves us vulnerable to abuse.
Being boundaried is a practice – I have been working on it for decades and still get sudden crash courses which remind me I’m still vulnerable to getting hooked into old habits – but it’s so worth getting better at.
And now, when I get triggered, I’m a bit better at saying, ‘Thank you, Universe, for this new opportunity to practice setting and maintaining healthy boundaries’. Not immediately. I still often shame spiral wondering what I’ve done to attract the situation but not to the same degree.
Have you ever sided with a bully, abuser or oppressor over yourself?
What helps you turn your compassion and empathy spotlight back onto yourself?
Feel free to comment below.