Developing Compassion after Trauma & Heartbreak
by Jessica Candelaria Lipsey
Individuals who have experienced tragic or traumatic events in their life often struggle with self-hatred or intense shame. These core feelings prevent self-love and compassion, ultimately postponing healthy, desirable relationships. Furthermore, if someone has experienced trauma and lacks healthy coping skills, they are more likely to use alcohol or other substances to self-medicate.
Over 80% of individuals with alcohol or other drug problems have experienced trauma or abuse in their past. Part of gaining long term recovery often means working through the effects of trauma or abuse. This is a process effectively mastered in the counseling setting. Bringing up any trauma or abuse can be re-traumatizing (if not done correctly); therefore, it is vital to do this with a professional. This is especially true for individuals trying to stay clean and sober, as it can be a major trigger for relapse.
One major component in healing from past trauma is learning how to develop compassion. Most importantly compassion and love for yourself. Once we learn how to love ourselves, and accept ourselves entirely, then we are capable of truly caring for others. We can’t fill anyone else’s cup if ours is empty.
Compassion is absolutely necessary in successful relationships. Let’s say our partner has said something hurtful but genuinely apologized, and we just cannot find it in ourselves to forgive this behavior. The hardest time to have compassion for another is usually when they have done something unkind. Hurt people, hurt people; but when someone has hurt us it is helpful to remember they are not caring for their self (This doesn’t apply to abusive socio-paths, but we’ll save that talk for another time). Maybe our partner said this thing because they were beating themselves up or blaming themselves internally. This shows what their “internal landscape” looks like. How they talk to themselves and their lack of self-care. When we know that the person we love is hurting, it makes it easier to understand and have compassion. We can offer tolerance and unconditional love during these times. Also, going through the process of forgiveness furthers the development of compassion. Forgiveness is for ourselves, not the other person.
How do we foster compassion for ourselves? After all, we must create compassion for ourselves first, but it is a process. Remember that we are humans, we all make mistakes, and none of us are perfect. One key aspect to developing self-compassion is expressing ourselves in a vulnerable manner. We do this at the right time with the right person. Vulnerability is the gateway of developing compassion for ourselves. This means expressing our true thoughts and feelings in a respectful way – creating strength, power, and dignity in our lives.
If you struggle with harsh negative self talk, can relate to the negative internal landscapes causing you to sabatoge relationships, both personal or professional, Jessica is hosting a group, “TakeBack Your Power;” here we will change harsh negative self-talk and re-create our internal landscapes. This group creates a safe environment; so we do not re-live the past, and can learn new coping tools to deal with the present. Learning these indispensable skills enables those recovering, from addiction and trauma, to develop sustainable, compassion and self-love. For more information about “Take Back Your Power” contact info@LifeCounselingSolutions.com or 407-622-1770.
If you would like to explore working with me please call (407) 622- 1770, or email me at Jessica@LifeCounselingSolutions.com. I look forward to hearing from you!