Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness
(c)2014 Nancy Virden
Her foe had recently started the conversation. “You are so annoying. No wonder people do not want you around. You don’t fit in anywhere because you are so weird.”
This time Sally stood her ground. “There have been friends throughout my life who have enjoyed spending time with me. I like being unique and there are those who appreciate who I am.”
“I doubt if that is true,” the bully said. “I could name names right now of those who reject you. Including me.”
“I can name those who have not.” That is when Sally shut down the dialogue with herself.
Negative self-talk is a primary fuel for false defeating beliefs and depression. Beliefs form when we receive a message from a significant source. This could be parents, teachers, even a TV personality – anyone we will unlikely dismiss offhand. Experience has to support the message, and finally, we have to repeat that same message to ourselves.
Early in life, Sally received a message of not belonging. Perhaps it was said directly or there was some other form of rejection. One day, Sally was excluded from a group activity. Afterward, there was an apology and “we didn’t think you wanted to go.” Is it possible there was a misunderstanding? Of course. Inwardly, Sally said, “This is proof I do not belong.” Next time there is a group activity, might Sally hesitate to go? Could be, because she now believes she will not fit in.
Our inner bullies are some of the cruelest voices we hear. There are unkind people who are more than happy to team up with any inner bully and reinforce what it is saying. It is our choice not to listen to negativity. Naysayers do not deserve to have their quotes hung on a wall, and we can learn not to grant them space in our heads either.
Let’s question past messengers’ credibility. If the person sending ideas was a narcissist, or a liar, or emotionally unable to meet our needs, what effect does that have on their message or on our memories? What if they were wrong? That changes everything, doesn’t it?
Saying goodbye to that inner bully is a decision to finally dismiss those lies that never were worthy of our time. While it is unfortunate any one of us has been hurt, we do have a say in how much longer we allow that pain to define us.
Let’s look at Sally again. No longer intimidated, Sally has grown. At some point she came to understand the message was a lie – the source was wrong – she’d been duped – she could move on. She said goodbye to the inner bully and began to practice kindness toward herself. She feels as if she’s been in a battle – and won.
If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help can be yours.
*name has been changed
**picture from qualitystockphotos.com