Posts tagged Compassion

Compassion Please

One helpful way that I’ve learned to reframe a loved one’s Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is to see it as a way for me to learn more about compassion, patience and the value of taking the time to understand another human being.  Again, this isn’t always an easy thing to do.  However, with the help of 12 Step proograms and members, it is a simple thing to do.  The Serenity Prayer helps too.

PTSD is a condition that occurs with people who have experienced trauma – either a physical or an emotional trauma.  The symptoms can be very disruptive and manifest in many ways; unwanted thoughts or images, nightmares about the event, flashbacks, intense distress in the face of anything that triggers memories of the trauma, trying to avoid thoughts or feeelings or people, memory problems, feeling emotionally numb, feeling disconnected or distant from people, having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, feeling irritable most of the time, difficulty concentrating, hyper-vigilance, feeling jumpy – just to name some of them.  And really, people suffer with this condition.  They deserve and need professional help from a mental health provider.  And it is treatable.

What’s also disruptive is that those who live with people who suffer from PTSD can start to develop what’s called “secondary trauma,” and start to be vigilant about what might be happening with them.  When we who love them develop the secondary trauma we need to get help from a professional too.  The mixed blessing of the secondary trauma is that we start to get a minor glimpse of what our loved one is living with daily.  That allows us to develop understanding and compassion which, as long as we aren’t in any danger, can lead to patience and tolerance that we might not otherwise have been able to muster.  Attending meetings, listening well and educating ourselves on any health issues that we may be exposed to with family helps us to feel more comfortable too.  It helps us remember that other people’s issues don’t have to be our issues if we take care of ourselves and just seek opportunities to be of appropriate service to others.

Affirmation for the Day – ” I am listening to understand more. ”

Remember to say the affirmation at least 3 times whenever you remember it, preferably in front of a mirror.

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No matter what 12 Step programs we attend, the opportunity exists for us to learn more about compassion and work on our understanding.

When I first came into 12 Step programs my modus operandi was pretty black and white.  It kept me safe.  Things were either right or wrong, good or bad and there was no gray space inbetween. It felt safe, and clear and comfortable.  There was a bit of righteousness in it too, so it could even feel a bit superior at times.  Since then, my understanding of the varying degrees of “gray” space in situations has increased exponentially.  Gray space is scarey at first.  It’s very uncomfortable.  There is little safety there.  In all that black and white I’d felt pretty safe and comfortable.  There was little unknown. 

With gray space there are often many unknowns – which can breed fear and insecurity.  There may be no road maps for the gray area, no books that tell us what we can expect.  And we can choose to go to the place of fear and insecurity or we can choose another route .  We can choose to transform that fear into excitement, curiousity, wonder and anticipation of a new adventure in learning.  In 12 Step programs we’re taught to seek to understand, rather than to be understood.  To get out of ourselves and consider others.  To see what is our part in situations and be accountable.  When we pause to consider others, new awarenesses present themselves and we receive clarity.  It may feel uncomfortable.  That’s okay – we aren’t alone.  We have each other and our Higher Power to guide us through the various shades of gray, as well as other professional resources.  What we often find is empathy, compassion for others and for ourselves.  We are all human, learning more each day if – we so choose.  As we become more serene our compassion grows and our ability to respond instead of react increases.  We learn to be gentle with ourselves, and then with eachother.  Miracles happen.

Affirmation for the Day – ” I am understanding more each day.”

Remember to say the affirmation at least 3 times whenever you remember it, preferably in front of a mirror.

Course In Miracles Lesson –  God is my life.  I have no life but His.

Practice – Our Father, let us see the face of Christ instead of our mistakes.  For we who are Your holy Child are sinless.  We would look upon our sinlessness, for guilt proclaims that we are not Your Child.  And we would not forget You longer  We are lonely here and long for Heaven where we are at home.  Today we would return.  Our Name is Yours, and we acknowledge that we are Your Child.

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We cannot imagine what it’s like to be in anyone else’s shoes, however, we can be aware of the fact that people in our lives may be dealing with very painful, difficult situations.  Having this awareness can be helpful as we witness them act out in unhealthy or unhelpful ways.

A man I know in the program is dealing with one such painful issue from childhood from which he’s developed self talk that is critical and destructive.  Leaving this issue unresolved has led him to relapse several times and act out toward his wife and others in very hurtful ways.  He has harshly judged himself about this issue and the way he’s lashed out at others in pain.  As so many of us in 12 Step programs often do,  he’s more harshly judged himself than perhaps anyone else ever would.

The statement, ” Hurt people hurt,” can apply to this situation.  We can keep in mind that others hurting us, with or without intention, means they are probably suffering in some way.  It can help us connect with compassion for them and help us seek to understand.  People who are happy and whole don’t cause pain and heartache for those they love.  Instead of taking harsh words or destructive behaviors personally, we can turn to page 552 in “The Big Book,’ and prevent a resentment.  We can also remember that no matter how they act, we can respond respectfully.  That doesn’t mean we put ourselves in harm’s way or excuse someone’s unhealthy behavior.  It does mean that we needn’t cause any additional harm.  We don’t have to take the bait.  We can respond lovingly, respectfully and remove ourselves from the situation if need be.  That is part of practicing the principles in all our affairs.

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Affirmation for the Day – ” I end all conflicts with love.”

Remember to say the affirmation at least 3 times whenever you remember it, preferably in front of a mirror.

Course In Miracles Lesson – Heaven is the decision I must make.

Practice –  Heaven is the decision I must make.  I make it now and will not change my mind, because it is the only thing I want.

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