If we think we can give to others, what we do not first give to ourselves, we are delusional. Before recovery, I remember extending myself so far out, to make myself look good, or to impress someone, that I exhausted my energy. Afterward, I’d reward myself with a tall drink (or five) and pat myself on the back for helping out a cause, or for being “unselfish.” If I was kind to a homeless person, in my own perception, I was somehow a saint for the day. Even in treatment, I was caring for people in Detox with empathy, yet looking back, I see myself as being more self-righteous than I was compassionate. I had more sobriety time then they had. It was a great way to feel like I had something over others, and this only fueled my addict mind. It’s easy to help a cause, or to show compassion, but are we doing it from a genuine place, or does subtle arrogance play a role in this?
Have you stopped judging yourself yet, or do you still beat yourself up for making mistakes, or for relapsing, or for not being “normal?” If the inner judge is still ruling your mind, then you have not even begun to understand where compassion is truly needed.
How about this week, you practice giving to yourself, what you believe you give to others? How about practicing compassion for YOU? In this practice, laughter should fill the shoes of inner ridicule. Mistakes should be forgiven instead of replayed and harped upon. Looking in the mirror should be an act of saying, “I love you, ______ (fill in the blank),” as opposed to, “God you need a haircut,” or “shit, I’m getting old…” It’s time to change our inner dialog. We beat ourselves up more than we realize. If you don’t believe me, take a day to listen closely to your inner dialog. Hear the judge in there? Yeah, Judy’s got nothing on her/him!
Having compassion for ourselves takes a lot of practice and awareness, because we’ve spent our lives doing the exact opposite. We self-sabotage. We are not accustomed to extending love inward. It’s even difficult to look in the mirror and tell ourselves we love the person staring back. If you can accomplish this, then you are re-conditioning yourself from self-hate to self-love. Once you truly love yourself, I guarantee you won’t want to sabotage your life. Just like a mother wants the best for her children, you’ll want the best for yourself. You’ve got to begin with number one. Stop beating yourself up. None of your mistakes have caused the world to end, and everyday is a new beginning. Put things into perspective.
Recovery is a reconditioning of the addict mind. It’s about doing everything opposite of what we did in our addiction; slowing down rather than racing through life; believing instead of dreading; caring for ourselves rather than neglecting ourselves. In order to genuinely offer compassion to the friend in need, we should first offer it to ourselves. After all, we are merely human. We are all fallible, and we should be able to laugh in the face of our defaults of character. You see, recovery isn’t about digging up old dirt and sorting through our disaster. It’s really about being present and experiencing life through new eyes. It’s about loving yourself, caring for yourself and wanting the best for yourself. Sound unfamiliar? Yeah, well just start today by giving yourself a little extra compassion. I promise you, it’s a huge step in the right direction.