We’ve decided that 2016 is going to be the year that we only include people in our life that treat us with understanding, compassion, and respect. People that can’t or won’t do this, will not have a place in our life.
During our last hospital admission (over Christmas 2015) we spent quite a bit of time contemplating what life would be like if we believed we deserved understanding, compassion, and respect.
What would it look like?
We’d take care of the body. We’d meet the body’s need for food and fluids. We’d plan for, and pace ourselves with all activities to help better manage our ME/CFS. We’d use more helpful coping strategies in order to avoid self-harm because we’d believe that we don’t deserve more pain and suffering.
We still struggle to believe and accept that we do deserve understanding, compassion, and respect. We go around in circles arguing about our worth, evidence for and against it, and usually end with overwhelming self-hatred.
Asking ourselves what we’d do if we believed that we deserve understanding, compassion, and respect bypasses that unhelpful circuit. We can ask that question of ourselves without having to believe it.
To make it a little simpler to understand let me tell you about a situation I found myself in recently. I was struggling with the eating disorder (ED) and was feeling anxious, upset, and desperately wanting to avoid emotions, thoughts, and my next meal.
I realised I had a choice. I could side with the self-hatred, shame, and more self-hatred. I could skip the meal and dive further into the ED. Safe, comfortable, familiar, but a cruel, and torturous headspace.
Alternatively I could pause and ask myself a question. ‘What would you do if you believed you deserve compassion, understanding, and respect?‘ I’d eat that meal. I’d eat it because I deserve food and nourishment. I’d eat because that’s how I care for my body. I’d eat because it allows me to think clearly. I’d eat because it allows me to be a good friend.
Comparing the two possible outcomes was interesting. I could plunge further into unhelpful behaviours and self-hatred, or try something quite different and end up feeling more okay about myself.
Being able to try the alternative behaviours whilst bypassing the ‘we’re bad, horrible, undeserving’ argument has been incredibly helpful. It’s helping us to make better choices as well as very slowly beginning to think better of ourselves. Maybe one day we’ll be able to believe it 100%.