I woke up to the news about the Paris events.
‘It’s only 7am, and I already feel depressed,’ I complained to my husband who broke the news to me.
When I hear news like that I flinch. I want to shut him out, as if stopping him saying those things and sharing his pain is likely to change what had happened.
I realise that for many years I struggled to look pain in the eye. Witnessing suffering is excruciating. It’s like seeing blood. If it’s my own, it’s not a problem. If it’s someone else’s, I hyperventilate. There is a sense of helplessness in seeing others people’s difficult experiences. I feel shame admitting this, but for a long time, I preferred not to look at painful things at all. I stopped watching news – why bother? There wasn’t much I could do about wars and disasters, right?
Denial hasn’t helped anyone though. What’s more, it harmed me. When we close our eyes on difficult things, it affects our vision. We struggle to see a complete picture. We start shutting down and disassociating.
Today, instead of flinching and shutting my eyes tightly, I’m making a conscious effort to stay awake. Every time I feel a stab in my heart whilst reading a Facebook feed or a blog post about Paris attacks I let myself feel it. Of course, I feel scared. Oh, and there is anger too. Is that you, despair?
What’s also different today is that I’m giving myself compassion for everything I feel. Instead of shutting down completely, I say:
‘I’m so sorry there is so much pain in this world.’
‘I’m so sorry people suffer.’
‘I’m so sorry people died in Paris.’
‘I’m so sorry no one is safe.’
‘I’m so sorry those events created so much fear.’
‘I’m so sorry there is so much despair.’
‘I’m so sorry … ’ The list goes on and on.
If you are struggling today, see whether you could give yourself compassion for your own pain. We can’t always stop other people’s suffering. We can, however, deal with our own responses to that suffering.
Give yourself compassion…
P.S. ‘I’m so sorry’ phrases above is the Compassion Key technique developed by Edward Mannix.