I am reading ‘How to be Sick’ by Toni Bernhard and there was one section that hit me. Having compassion for ourselves being sick.
Here are some quotes to think about:
“When cultivating a compassionate mental state, sometimes I look for words that address the source of the suffering, anguish or stress. The source, of course, what the second noble truth points to: the desire for things to be not as they are. I might silently say, ‘It is hard to want so badly not to be sick.’ Other times, I look for words that simply open my heard to the suffering, such as, ‘My poor body, working so hard to feel better’. Pg 58’How to be sick’
“‘My heart is big enough to hold this fear’. And so, alongside other experiences in my life, I made room for fear. I felt a great spaciousness and expansiveness. Soon I became aware that a gentle smile had appeared on my lips as if to say, ‘Ah, yes. My old friend, fear.’ And so the seed was soon sown for a new compassion practice : opening my heart to the full range of emotions that life has in store for me.” pg 70
And I read this section and realized I have no compassion for myself at all.
I often feel when I cannot do things, like work, I am the failure, it is not that I just cannot work at that time. No, I personally am a failure.
I have Major Depressive Disorder (treated at this time with medication) and my negative self-talk is always brutal. As she says in the book… you wouldn’t tell someone else those things, so why would you tell yourself that? But oh I do. ‘You are worthless’. And my psychologist said, and I agree, I have issues with low self-worth from being battered by chronic pain for so long. I do not exactly see value in myself.
And I certainly have no compassion for the pain I endure. No, it is all about how I can endure it and still function in the way that I must. I must be Strong. And not show my pain. I must be Strong, and functional. Or… I am weak and I fail. And that failure is on me not because I couldn’t physically function.
But I have immense compassion for others with chronic illness and chronic pain. I take my suffering and pain and I empathize with theirs because of my experiences with it. I feel for their struggles. And I wouldn’t ever want them to feel worthless. I would never want them to feel a failure. And I would tell them that it isn’t true. I would tell them what I truly believe for everyone, but myself.
Because my compassion is for others, never myself.
Maybe the reason is that I feel like those old ancient feelings of shame and guilt for having weakness, for being ill, for not being able to function the way I think I should. That I do not deserve compassion. Self-worth issues indeed.
Nevertheless, my friends, I think for New Years I am going to cultivate some self-compassion in my life.
I think this is a resolution that will help me cope better and will improve my quality of life and wellbeing. Something I have never considered before and quite ignored. I think maybe we should all think about adding a bit of compassion for ourselves into the mix.
Today was a bad day for me. I felt dizzy all day, some serious bouts, lightheaded, out of sorts, exhausted and with the disequilibrium. I couldn’t do any of the things I wanted to do. Just one thing on my list: clean the litter boxes. Lately, one thing makes me feel a lot worse. But I already felt bad, so that one thing never got done.
And what I would normally think is ‘what a lost day’. A lost day is a day Lost to illness. Where nothing can be done and you can accomplish nothing. A day that doesn’t even count.
I think now I should think. ‘My body is struggling so hard right now to just move in the world it needs its rest. It is trying so hard. And I shouldn’t be angry at it. This is a day of rest.’
I’ll work on that. It is hard for me. My brain can be brutal sometimes.