Mindful Self Compassion

Personal Growth and Mindful Self Compassion

Do you have mindful self compassion? In addition to my work here as a couples counselor, therapist and personal growth coach, I love addressing listener questions on the Love Happiness and Success Podcast (not to mention the wonderful questions that you guys leave for me on our blog).

A while ago, one brave listener reached out with a heartfelt email, sharing a bit about her life, and asking how to handle some really difficult things, like:

“How do I forgive myself when I’ve hurt someone?”

“How do I break my old patterns so that I don’t do harmful things again?”

“How do I stay emotionally available when I fear being hurt?”

These are important questions that many people wrestle with, and I decided to tackle them on the show. We’ll be discussing:

  • How to forgive yourself when you’ve hurt someone
  • How to break old patterns
  • How to stay emotionally available in relationships

You can listen to the episode right here on GrowingSelf.com or join me on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or Spotify (or wherever you listen to your podcasts!). 

How to Forgive Yourself When You’ve Hurt Someone

While so many resources are there to help you if you’ve been hurt by someone else, need to forgive someone who has betrayed you, or how to rebuild trust in a relationship, few resources exist to help those suffering with feelings of guilt, regret, and remorse

This is unfortunate because who among us hasn’t done something they regret? The worst is when you’ve hurt someone you’ve loved and maybe lost a relationship as a result of it.

We’ll discuss how to apply self-awareness and mindful self-compassion to this situation in order to find forgiveness for yourself, by putting your actions in context of both your life experience and your inner experience. We’ll talk about how to practice self-compassion and some self-compassion exercises to help you develop this skill.

Resources: Here’s the link to the attachment styles article I mention. One of the other resources I discuss here is our “What’s Holding You Back” quiz to help you gain self-awareness.

How Do I Break My Old Patterns?

The crux of any personal growth process is using your self-awareness and your feelings to get clearer about your values to help you guide your future behavior and future choices. 

We’ll talk about how to combine compassion for yourself, empathy for others, and mindfulness skills to manage yourself in the moment so that you create better outcomes in the future.

Resource: Mindfulness, For People Who Hate to Meditate

How Do I Stay Emotionally Available in Relationships?

When you’re feeling fragile and emotionally reactive, it’s hard to have healthy relationships. Instead, we usually fall into two opposite but equally destructive relationship patterns.

One, we lose ourselves and become dependent on another for our feelings of self-worth (which too often leads to emotional enmeshment and codependency). 

Or, we swing into self-protection, lashing out, shutting down, or breaking off relationships. The key to finding a middle path — connection and confidence — is through radical acceptance, loving yourself, and strengthening yourself.

Resource: Here’s the link to the Self-Love article I mentioned. Also, an article about cultivating healthy vulnerability in relationships.

At the heart of all the ideas, skills, and strategies here for forgiving yourself and using your mistakes as a launch pad for growth, is the concept of mindful self-compassion. I hope you keep that idea with you, on your journey of growth and healing.

Your fellow traveler,

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

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Mindful Self Compassion

The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast with Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

Music Credits: Florence and The Machine, “Grace”

Free, Expert Advice — For You.

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Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: This is Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby, and you’re listening to The Love, Happiness, and Success podcast.

[Intro Song: Grace by Florence and the Machine]

Dr. Lisa: Such a beautiful song. That is Florence and the Machine. They have a newer album out that is just amazing. I wanted to share a song from that album to set the mood for our show today. The album is called High as Hope. There are so many really beautiful, and vulnerable, and really reflective songs on that album, such as this one. We just heard a snippet from one called Grace, where she’s really thinking through some of the relationships or one in particular that she has regrets. She knows now that maybe she made mistakes in the past. Maybe she hurt someone and is struggling to make peace with that. 

That is actually our show’s topic today which is not one of the fun ones, but one that I think is really important and powerful and timely. As I record this, we are now steaming into autumn. I think, for a lot of people, this is a reflective time of year. It’s a more somber time of year. The Jewish religion and all of its wisdom chose to place Yom Kippur around this time of year, which is appropriate. That’s a holiday that’s all about really atonement, and reflection, and ultimately, redemption. That is what we’re talking about today on the show. If you are struggling with some regret, particularly around maybe the way that you acted in a relationship, if you’ve ever hurt someone and are wanting to know how to deal with that, and most of all, if you would like to avoid hurting someone again in the future or struggling with these feelings again in the future, this show is for you. That’s what we’re doing today. 

Before we dive into our topic, just a couple of quick mentions. Well, hello. If this is the first time listening to The Love, Happiness, and Success podcast, welcome. I’m glad you found us. I am Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby. I’m the Founder and Clinical Director of Growing Self Counseling and Coaching. We’re based out of Denver, but we see clients all over the world, now, through online video because that’s just where this is all going, which is fantastic. That’s what I’m doing here. My background is I’m a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. I’m trained as a psychologist, and I’m also a board-certified life coach. I like to say I specialize in love, happiness, and success, as I draw on all those three things. In my practice, I work with a bunch of amazing people, who have a variety of specialties. We have a lot of cool stuff going on in our practice right now. 

I will take just a second to let you know that this fall, we’re actually doing more things with groups that I’m really excited about. I think that people are fairly familiar with the idea of just going and talking to a counselor or a coach privately but not sometimes so much with a group experience. But I tell you what, it’s amazing for a lot of different reasons. First of all, it’s one thing to get feedback from a counselor or coach, but there’s something about being in a group of people that you trust and that you’re all on the same path or struggling with the same issues. There is just the sense of community, and support, and camaraderie that is so powerful; I think more powerful in some ways than just having a private counselor or coach. Also, the feedback that you get in a group tends to be incredibly helpful.

Also, just looking at this from a practical perspective, one of the things that I love so much about groups from my position is that they are much more affordable, to be completely honest, and accessible for people. That is something that I’m always trying to figure out in my role-managing practices. How do we make this easier for people? That’s one of the reasons that I always do this podcast is just to… I think this little transparency, even though I’m in school, I’m doing all this stuff now, in my heart of hearts, I am still very much a blue-collar kid. I’m thinking about times in my life when this would not have been accessible to me. I think that’s part of the reason why I always do these podcasts. We have so much free stuff happening on our website but also with groups. 

Some of the groups that we have coming up… My colleague, Maggie Graham, if you caught her podcast with me a while ago about career development—she’s an amazing career coach. She’s actually doing a design-your-life group which is based on the book, Designing Your Life. She’s actually a design-your-life-trained coach. She’s offering a group this fall that’s based on their teachings around how to get clarity about not just career, but your values, your life path, and how to get congruent with your passion, and what you do for a living, and also just who you are as a person. It’s $40 for a 90-minute group. If you did that privately with Maggie, it’d be like $250, but this is 40 bucks for a 90-minute group with her. It’s amazing. 

Likewise, my colleagues, Kathleen and Zachary, they’re doing personal growth groups. Their groups actually go in line with what we’re going to be talking about today around self-compassion, self-esteem, how to communicate with other people, how to set boundaries, how to feel more confident in relationships. Kathleen’s version of that group is going to be happening in person at our Denver office and Zachary’s version of that group is going to be happening online. Maggie’s group is actually going to be happening online, too, which again, makes it just easier for people to attend and do. Let’s see. My colleague, Sonia, is going to be doing an online breakup support group, which I’m super excited about. As you know if you’ve ever listened to this podcast before, I have a big heart for people that are going through breakups. 

We do have a free online Facebook group for people who are going through breakups. If you would like to join that group, get in touch with me through Facebook, facebook.com/drlisabobby, and just send a message. It is a hidden private group. The only way to join it is to send a message through Facebook. Then, we will manually add you to the group, which is clunky, but the group is hidden so nobody can see you in the group. Nobody knows that you’re there, except for other group members. Just for that added layer of privacy, that’s why we do it that way. But that is not a facilitated group. That’s just people online supporting each other, and it’s wonderful. There’s a lot of great advice and support going on there. But the group with Sonia is eight weeks of a facilitated group where she walks you through the steps of healing from a breakup. You get both the group support, but also her guidance. I think it’s gonna be amazing. Again, 40 bucks a group, it’s unreal. 

Then, my colleague, Jessica, who is also a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, she is going to be doing an online postpartum support group, which I think is such a fabulous idea. Because if you’ve ever had a baby, it’s hard to pack yourself up and take a shower, and put on pants, and get the baby ready, and then go somewhere. It’s also an isolating time for many people. This is for both newer moms and dads. That does not have to be right after you’ve had a baby, but anybody adjusting to the new reality of having a kid can join this group totally online. Moms and dads, couples can attend together. It’s gonna be a lot of just community support, but also talking about how do we make this transition into parenthood, as joyful as possible, because when you bring a new life into the world in a very real way a new life starts for you, too. That’s what that group is about. I think I’m gonna have Jessica on the podcast at some point to talk about that because that’s a lot of good stuff there. 

Those are my announcements of things going on in the practice lately. Let’s talk, now, about our topic today, which is how to have compassion for yourself, how to forgive yourself, and really how to grow. I’ll tell you where this came from. Again, as you know, if you’ve listened to the show, I always invite people to ask questions or get in touch because I really want this podcast to be about the things that are most important for you. If you have a question, certainly get in touch through our website, growingself.com. Through Facebook is another good way. You can send an email, hello@growingself.com. Also, those of you who have left questions for me on our blog, I apologize that it’s taken me a little bit a couple of weeks to read there. We’re getting an awful lot of comments. If you have left a question for me recently, I’m working on it. I try to be very thoughtful about the responses that I give to you guys because I know that these are heartfelt questions about things that are really important to you. I take them seriously. There’s just been a lot going on lately, but I’m working on it. I have not forgotten about you. Thank you for getting in touch with me and trusting me with your questions. 

This podcast, this thing that we’re going to be talking about today, I actually got an email from a listener several months ago. It was such a lovely email. At the time that I got it, I was like, “Wow.” I don’t know if I can really do a podcast about this. It would be helpful, would it do this justice? I wrote her back personally, but I’ve just been thinking about this ever since. It’s been simmering in the back of my mind. I think it’s something about this time of year. I think the time is right so let me read you this question. Then we will discuss. 

Forgiving Yourself When You’ve Hurt Someone

It says, “Dear Dr. Lisa. First, I’d like to thank you for founding the Growing Self community. Can’t express how helpful your blog and podcast have been to me over the last few weeks as I feel more guidance from you and your team than I have over a decade of therapy.” That’s a huge statement. Thank you. This comes from Jane D., we’re gonna call her. Thank you for your kind words. She says, “I’m writing you today to see if you would be willing to write an article or do a podcast for those of us who, because of childhood trauma or past mistakes, struggle with allowing ourselves to be emotionally available and struggle with forgiving ourselves for past mistakes. I have been hurt many times. But I have also been the cause of hurting others. I find, at times, I’m paralyzed by my mistakes, and I struggle to determine how to develop the growth mindset I need to overcome them.” Specific questions are, “How can I forgive myself when I’ve really hurt someone? How do I overcome the negative patterns I’ve created? How do I allow myself to be emotionally available to a partner without completely losing myself if it doesn’t work out?”

All big questions. She goes on to say, “I know that I’m not the only person with struggles with this. After all, there are many people lying, cheating, yelling, etcetera, as there are those that don’t. I know enough about humans to know that not all these people are bad people. So many articles and podcasts on relationships focus on those who have been hurt. But what about those of us who have done the hurting and who want to be better? Many of my negative behaviors stem from my own childhood trauma, which I realized isn’t a justification. But it would be so helpful to learn about how to overcome our desire to run away, to avoid, to build walls. I realize this is a huge subject. Perhaps, it isn’t within the scope of what you would like to cover. But I thought there would be no harm in asking. Thank you for your time and your service.” 

That was an email I got. I read that, I was like, “Wow.” My initial reaction to this email was, first of all, it’s clearly so heartfelt and so sincere. I just thought it was wonderful that this person is seeking answers to these huge questions. Also, I felt a lot of compassion for her because, we all know and I have certainly felt this in my life, I think there is no worse feeling than that of regret. But maybe a close second is that not being able to trust yourself, that “I’ve made mistakes in the past, and I don’t know how to not do that in the future.” That’s a bad feeling. I felt for her. Again, my immediate reaction was that these are the things that often take people months, if not years, to really fully work through and resolve over a period of time of personal growth work. That’s what I wrote back to her was just some private messages about how to get involved with that and also, really how to cultivate patience for herself because these are big things, particularly if childhood trauma is at the root of it. That’s a big deal. 

I, again, tucked it away, but recently just thinking through, and I think I do have some things to say about this that would be helpful both to her and, hopefully, to you on the podcast around the process of healing. I will just tell you, right now, that hearing you say these things might not immediately change anything for any or won’t immediately change anything for anybody. But I think that to have some of these ideas in mind can give you something to steer for, particularly if you’re involved in your own personal growth work. I think, also, some ideas to keep in mind can just help you feel better and feel more confident in the moment. 

First of all, when it comes to forgiving yourself, or trusting yourself, step one, again, as I talk a lot about on this podcast is having self-awareness. This is gonna sound really crazy, but a lot of people who behave in ways that are hurtful to others or who engage in relationships in ways that they’re hurtful to themselves even, they don’t consciously know what they are doing, which sounds so weird to think about. But listen, trust me. I’ve been a counselor and a coach for a long time, and just sitting with people is that in the time before self-awareness happens. What it actually feels like, and we’ve all been there, is this feeling of reactivity. “Well, I did this because they did that. Therefore, I was justified.” Or, “Well, I was feeling this way, so this was the natural response to that.” That whenever anybody does anything, even if we look at it, and objectively, it’s pretty bad. 

On the inside, it feels like, “Well, yeah. I did that because of this internal experience that I was having. Because of the way that I was thinking about it, it made perfect sense to me at the time.” I think all of us when we look back on our own behavior at the time, that is what made sense. We were having feelings. We were having thoughts, so we reacted to them. The fact that Jane D. has this awareness around, “Oh, even though I was feeling and thinking that way in that moment, I had options for how I could have handled that. The choices that I chose wound up hurting some other people. I have regret for that.” 

The other piece of this is, of course, empathy, that the other person’s feelings, in this case, were important, at least as important as hers were. Again, in the time before people have done the work that Jane D. clearly has done, their feelings feel more important than those of other people. They, again, feel justification for behaving badly. They blame the other person for their own behaviors. That’s where it stops. The reason why I’m bringing this up is because Jane has already done a ton of work that I think she’s probably not giving herself credit for. That even though, now, she’s sitting with bad feelings around regret and fear for her future, the fact that she has so much self-awareness is really enormous. 

I just wanted to commend that because she’s beating herself up a little bit in this letter. She’s already done so much. I just wanted to honor that. For many people, I think that self-awareness piece is, as they say in Alcoholics Anonymous, watch that first step. It’s a bitch. For all of our personal growth work, it’s that first step of self-awareness that is often the hardest for people to get out of their own filter, their own mind, and see this from a bigger picture can sometimes take a lot of discussion and exploration. 

Actually, for that purpose, I’ve developed a couple of tools that I think have been helpful just to get that started. On our website, if you’re interested in taking it, there’s a free quiz. It’s called What’s Holding You Back. It’s a simple quiz. It’s a short quiz, but it really assesses the different domains of functioning: thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and values integration. Because almost all the time, when people are not getting the results that they want, there’s stuff going on, at least one of those areas that they could work on. Again, it’s so easy to say, “Well, it’s my boyfriend. It’s my job. It’s my circumstances. Whatever.” 

But I think getting that self-awareness, it gives you more options because you can’t control other people. You can’t control your circumstances, sometimes, but we can always control ourselves. Again, when we start working on the way that we’re thinking, and feeling, and behaving, things change. If you want to check that out, you can actually text to get this quiz. You can text 66866 and then text the word “grow.” You’ll get a link to that quiz. Or you can go to our website, www.growingself.com. We have a search bar there, and just type in what’s holding you back. You’ll get a link to that quiz. Or again, texting 66866 with the word “grow,” g-r-o-w and you’ll get that. That’s something. 

But once you have that self-awareness, then you’re still left with, “Oh, God,” kind of regretful feelings. What is also true is there’s another saying, we shrinks just have all kinds of witty things, I don’t know if they’re witty sayings. One is that, “Hurt people, hurt people.” That when people do, I hate to use such a judgment-laden word, but bad things, things that are objectively hurtful to other people, there is a reason. It’s often because they have been hurt in their lives, and they are struggling with bad feelings and pain. Again, the way they feel the way they behave, it makes sense in the context of those life experiences. 

When it comes to really figuring out how to forgive yourself for bad things that you’ve done, just like when we need to forgive other people, the path to forgiveness, as far as I can tell, is through compassion. Having compassion for other people, or in this case, having compassion for yourself. This is really at the crux of all very deep personal growth is to find that compassion, to release judgments and the moralistic sense of, “Oh, what I did was bad or wrong.” Instead, look at it through the lens of, “How does this make sense? How, in the context of my life experience, does it make sense that I would have felt the way that I did in that moment or that I would have reached for those behaviors in the moment?” 

What Jane here is saying is that she’s been through some hard things. I mean, child abuse, my God! When you go back and think about a child or anyone being in an abusive situation with someone with whom they were not safe, they weren’t emotionally safe, or even physically safe, many times those things go hand-in-hand sadly. It is absolutely not just appropriate, but a really important survival skill to not trust someone, to be very protective of yourself, to even be aggressive in order to dissuade someone from hurting you, to hide, to run, or to lash out if someone is coming for you. Those are aall extremely appropriate reactions. 

What happens is that when we grow up in an environment like this, this is how we learn to be with other people. The technical term for this is called attachment styles. Actually, right now, another one of my colleagues, Jenna Peterson, just published a lovely article on our website that talks a lot about different attachment styles. If you want to learn more about that, you can check that out. She also gives some recommendations for how to start overcoming them in the context of relationships. I don’t want to digress too much. We learn how to be in our early relationships with people. Then, what happens is that we fast forward. 

Now, all of a sudden, you’re 27. You’re not actually in the home with your crazy, abusive mother anymore. But you’re in the world trying to have a relationship with somebody who, just maybe, is an emotionally safe person or who really does want to have a good relationship with you. Yet, you still feel the same way that you did in the relationship with your mother. It’s hard to not see this person as a possible threat through that old filter. As such, you feel threatened, and then you react as if there is a threat. This is the mechanics that I hear going on inside of Jane’s question is, “How do I forgive myself for behaving that way?” When you look at it in that context, like, “Well, why wouldn’t you behave that way?” 

Breaking Old Patterns

But I think the growth moment here is to be able to separate the past and the future in a very deliberate way and to be able to practice compassion for yourself, but also going to that question around, “How do I break those negative patterns? How do I keep that from happening again?” that in my experience, gosh. I don’t know. But the way that I see in any way, the only way to really get in command of that is through self-awareness. First of all, having that exploration around, “Yeah, I do that. When I am in these kinds of situations, I have this big fear reaction. I know this happens.” Again, owning that, as opposed to blaming other people for triggering you being like, “Yes, I do that.” 

Then, being able to stay very firmly in the present moment. To be able to come into the here and now, practicing present moment awareness and mindfulness skills to be like, “Okay, what’s happening right now? Nothing is happening right now. Nobody’s attacking me. Nobody’s freaking out and nobody’s coming at me with a… Whatever. I’m okay. How do I want to behave in this moment?” 

I’ve worked with people who, immediately, would have this old fear reaction or who would think bad thoughts about something or someone based on those old things and will actually… You can watch it. They’ll be like, “Take a breath.” You can see them processing like, “Okay, this is happening for me right now. What do I need to do?” Sometimes, people will take a break, like, “Excuse me. I need to go to the restroom for a minute.” Sometimes, they’ll just pause, and breathe and turn inward, and work through that. But you can almost see them doing a manual override of these old emotional reactions and thoughts. Then, come back out of it and be like, “Okay. I just had a moment there, but I know you. I know that you have good intentions. I have good intentions. I’m calming myself down right now. Let’s have a conversation about this without having that old reaction.” 

It’s so remarkable to watch people that do that, particularly when they have had a lot of life experiences that would make it hard for them to be able to do that. This is really possible to get a hold of. Again, going back to compassion around how does this make sense is that cornerstone of forgiveness and being able to stay in the present moment is your power point for preventing these things from happening, again, in the future. This is the crux, again, of all growth is that recognition but also the sense of control. I love the quote by Maya Angelou. She said, and I’ll butcher this but something along the lines of, “In the past, I did what I knew how to do. But now that I know better, I can do better.” 

It’s this sense of, even though the past is what it is, and I have done things or behaved in a way that I don’t feel great about, as of this present moment, I have choices. I can stay in the here and now, and stay in command of myself, and be ready for these other moments that might be triggering or that might be vulnerable for me. But in these moments, I can be in charge of myself. I can handle this in a different way, in a better way. Also, that we have the option, the opportunity to repair our relationships, through the way that we behave in the here and now. 

Say in Jane’s case, she had been in a relationship with somebody that she hurt. Maybe that relationship has ended, and she doesn’t get a second chance. That’s sometimes true that healthy people, when they are treated badly, at a certain point, will set boundaries and prevent themselves from being hurt again by removing hurtful people’s access to them. That definitely happens. The good news is that we don’t need forgiveness from other people. We don’t need to make amends to other people and have them forgive us because that’s really putting it back on them again. It’s not their problem anymore. They have moved on. It is our problem. 

How do we make amends to ourselves? How do we forgive ourselves? That’s much more powerful and more honest in a lot of ways. But in this case, where perhaps Jane is still in a relationship with someone where she has done things that she regrets in the past, she can begin to rebuild that trust by giving the person that she’s in a relationship with good experiences with her going forward so that every time there is a situation where maybe the other person is saying, “Oh, is Jane gonna hurt me again?” They’ll have a healing experience with her instead of another hurtful experience. 

This is really, again, at the core of rebuilding trust. For many people, this is very salient if there has been infidelity in their relationship or another kind of betrayal. If you would like to learn more specifically about those things, I’ve done a couple of podcasts. One is just about rebuilding trust generally. I think I called that one, “Sorry” Isn’t Good Enough. You can check that out. Again, search for it on that website. The other one is really around infidelity. I think it’s just Healing From Infidelity. You can scroll back through podcasts, or again, search for it on our website, growingself.com. But again, the crux is helping somebody rebuild their trust by your ability to, in the present moment, as you move forward now through time, being in control of yourself and very deliberately being an emotionally safe person. 

Staying Emotionally Available in Relationships

Then lastly, the last thing that I want to address, it seems like it’s a little different, but it’s really around the same thing. She asks, “How do I allow myself to be emotionally available to a partner without completely losing myself if it doesn’t work out?” Again, when we have that inner fragility, when we are reactive, or when we have been through situations where we were in close relationships with other people that were dangerous, it can create a situation where people feel fragile and vulnerable. 

It sets up this dynamic, which is very common, I think we can all relate to it on some level, but I think that it’s more pronounced in people that have lived through really hard life experiences where either, if you imagine a pendulum swinging, either they become extremely attached to people to the point of where they can lose themselves, where the other people’s feelings, other person’s opinion of them is extremely important. If the other person is happy, they’re happy. If the other person is sad, they’re sad. There’s this emotional fusion that can go on. 

That is unsustainable because you can’t put everything on another person to feel okay about yourself. Because other people are humans, and other people are going to be disappointing, and not love you perfectly, and not always say the right thing, and not always be happy. We have to have a separate sense of self in order to have healthy relationships with other people that’s really grounded in that, “I know who I am. I know how I think. I know how I feel. I have this separate identity.” At the root of this is, “I also love myself, and I feel good enough about myself to be okay, even if you, partner, might think badly of me, or if I piss you off, or if you’re being grumpy or whatever. I’m not going to fall apart just because you’re having this thing. Because at my core self, I know I’m all right.” That’s the essence of self-love. 

Another of my colleagues, Teena Evert, wrote an amazing article on that subject, self-love, on our blog that you can also check out. It was fairly recent. But going back to that pendulum, so on the one side, somebody is very vulnerable in relationships. The other side of that pendulum is when they get hurt or fearful. It swings over to the other side of, “Nope. I reject you. You can’t hurt me. I’m putting up my walls. I’m lashing out at you. I am closed off at you.” The most extreme, “I reject you, and I cut you off.” The pendulum swings between those two extremes of, “I’m very vulnerable in my relationship, or I totally cut you off. I’m going to be mean to you and not available to you at all.” 

The work here is finding that middle path, which is staying in the ring with someone and not cutting them out, or building walls, or running away, or avoiding. But it’s coming back to, “I can stay here with you and feel anxious. I can feel worried. I can feel hurt. And I’m still okay.” Going back into that middle of self-love and trusting yourself and having that own identity also comes with that sense of competence in your own power to be okay, that you trust yourself to be alright, even if you are sad, or somebody hurts your feelings. You’re competent to deal with that. It’s not going to destroy you. Then on the other side, coming back into the center from being so deeply invested in another person that you start to lose yourself and finding that middle path. 

Me explaining that middle path and painting the picture of the two extremes of the pendulum swinging and how the ideal and healthy relationships is to maintain that loving relationship with yourself while you also can love and care about somebody else. That is definitely one of those things that is hard to do. I mean everything that I’m talking about today is hard to do. Please don’t listen to this podcast and think that you should be able to do any of the things that I’m describing because these are all really hard. 

For most people and for all people, it takes a while to be able to figure these things out. Certainly, talking with someone or being in growth experiences, like a group or a private relationship with a counselor or coach, can really help. But it’s a process of thinking about these things differently, about talking about them, about making connections between the things that have happened in your own life and like, “Oh, okay. That was a moment where I was so invested in this relationship that when this person got mad at me, it was so intolerable. That I just shut all the way down and I rejected them.”

You have to make these connections, and talk through stuff, and figure it out, or do some journaling, definitely finding a middle ground. There’s so many working parts there around self-love, and distress tolerance, and being able to stay in the present moment, and being able to manage your own thoughts in such a way where you’re able to be supportive of yourself. Also, empathy, being able to have your own feelings of hurt, and also still have empathy for another human as opposed to being like, “Oh, well. They’re all bad.” There’s a lot going on in there that is complex, that is really advanced personal growth work. 

But I hope that me talking through it, while it doesn’t do the work for you, at least gives you a conceptual framework around what to aim for in your own counseling or coaching. What might be going on on a deeper level. Sometimes, I think, particularly, traditionally trained therapists, there’s not a lot of specific instruction around, “Okay, this is why we’re talking about what we’re talking about. Or this is where we’re going with this. Or this is what to do with these things that we’re talking about.” I think that’s why in my own practice, we’ve gravitated so much towards coaching, is that it turns into, “Okay, so now what? What do I do with this?” As opposed to endlessly talking about, “How mad I am at my mother? How does this apply to my life in the here and now?” which is a little bit different. 

It is also different from somebody with just a coaching background, which might be like, “Okay, do 10 push-ups, and make sure you smile, and make a list of things that you’re grateful for,” because it doesn’t also honor the depth of where this is coming from and what’s really going on on a deeper level. At the one end, you have something that’s so deep that it doesn’t even make sense. Then, on the other hand, you have something that’s so shallow that it’s like, “Well, okay, but that doesn’t really address what is actually happening with me.” 

Again, we’re looking for a middle path in all things including our practice. I hope that me talking about these situations, in this way, was helpful and both addressed the mechanics of it at a deeper, psychological and emotional level but also gave you some direction around, “This is who I want to be both in the present and in the future as I continue moving forward.” This is always the process of growth. 

Jane D., thank you so much for reaching out to me with this question and giving me the opportunity to think about it and think about how am I going to explain this to people, but also, making your growth journey available to other people listening to this podcast. Because I’m sure that your question and what you’re going through is very salient to many other people. Because you’re totally right. There’s a lot in our culture that addresses people who have been hurt or are dealing with the aftermath of somebody else’s behavior, but it’s a much more vulnerable and less, almost, socially acceptable thing to talk about, like, “What do I do when I have been the one that has hurt someone? Or when I have been the one that has cheated, or lied, or stolen? How do I cope with that? How do I live with that? How do I move on?” 

On behalf of all of us sinners out there, Jane, D., thank you so much for bringing up this question. Thank you for listening to The Love, Happiness, and Success podcast. I will be back in touch with you as always in a couple of weeks. If you have questions, get in touch, growingself.com. Find us on Facebook, Dr. Lisa Bobby, and we will continue moving forward together. Now, once again, Florence and the Machine singing about Grace which is what this is all about. Isn’t it?

[Outro Song]


Episode Highlights

Forgiving Yourself When You’ve Hurt Someone

  • First, gain self-awareness. Most of the time, people who hurt others respond in a reactive way.
  • Then, have empathy for those you’ve hurt. Recognize their feelings and acknowledge the damage you’ve done.
  • Most importantly, have compassion for yourself. Although the hurt you’ve done is not justified, there may be underlying reasons for your behavior.

Breaking Old Patterns

  • Admit what you have done in the past. Don’t blame other people for it.
  • Be present at the moment. You can do this by practicing mindfulness techniques.
  • Rebuild trust in your relationships by giving the other person good experiences moving forward.
  • Be an emotionally safe person by controlling yourself.

Staying Emotionally Available in Relationships

  • It’s hard for you to feel emotionally stable when you are reactive. As a result, you can be emotionally dependent or emotionally withdrawn from other people.
  • Find a middle ground. Love yourself while maintaining that love and care for somebody else.

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Therapy Questions, Answered.

2 Comments

  1. I commented financial infidelity so now my husband has been stonewalling me. I want to become clean and build a better transparent and open relationship around money.

  2. Hi Jacqueline, thank you for reaching out. It just so happens I have an episode with some information for you, “How to Save Your Marriage After Financial Infidelity.” You’re right on track; recovery requires transparency and being open. Financial infidelity is complex, and often involves deeply rooted beliefs around money and, sometimes, addiction-like urges and compulsions. We need support and accountability to navigate these, such as a support group or meeting with a therapist. Warm regards, Lisa

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