It is occurring to me lately that cultivating peace on any day is something I can choose to do. I would rather feel the soft cool balm of peace washing over my troubled soul at those times when it may be hurting or aching. I would rather answer that cry of regret or feelings of not good enough or criticism with a soothing caring word from self that lets me know that having it all together is not the answer to peace and happiness for me in the present moment, rather that answer lies in peace and at oneness, acceptance of the fact that life can at times be full of pain and far from easy.
Past years have shown me beyond any doubt how hard I can be on myself inside my head. I didn’t hear voices of self compassion growing up. I was alone a lot with my thoughts and I felt an emptiness from my parent’s emotional distance which I now know went back to disconnection from their own parents and having to mature at a time of great emotional turmoil in both their worlds affected by traumas beseiging their families due to war and other difficulties.
What I did develop in this environment was a sense of being alone and not knowing where to turn but to substances. I also became very critical inside my head. Because I did not know how to manage, nor who to ask I just took myself off and diverted or buried feelings. Even in my sobriety as trauma began to emerge I started to feel and hear a very destructive inner voice telling me to take my life.
I will post a post after this which comes from a recovery story in the book Beyond Borderline in which a sufferer speaks of how she struggled with her own inner critic. Those of us recovering from Complex PTSD which is a wider less stigmatising diagnosis that could be an umbrella under which others such as Bi Polar and Borderline could fall have deep work to do with the inner critic in recovery. The inner critic doesn’t accept anything, it judges which is different from discriminating between helpful and unhelpful responses to trauma. It runs an ongoing monologue of all the ways we have failed, fallen short and not measured up without considering that we lacked certain skills or support.
The antidote to the inner critic is a wise mind loving compassionate voice which is more realistic and understands how we have suffered. It understands that we have only fallen short of arbitrary standards that are not necessarily realistic nor kind. It allow for us to progress rather than demanding us to be perfect. This is the voice that gives us peace, that helps us to cultivate peace. This is the voice we need to listen to keep our lives in love and balance, rather than full of pain, fear and destabilisation.
I do believe what we choose to focus on grows in our life. My work with a trauma body therapist involves putting the focus on goodness or pleasant feelings and sensations or things in the environment, not purely as a distraction to pain but as a reminder of what good still lives on outside a traumatised reality. In many instances the trauma or pain we carry is not even ours, it belongs to the ones who passed it on or the ones that passed it onto them. We can learn to give this pain back where it belongs and I will write about this soon in a post which shares the work therapist Mark Wolynn does with recognising core trauma and fears we take on from the past. We are not meant to live a life of constant fear, pain and insecurity but this is what we will find if we keep our focus on it.