Healing Through Compassion. By: David Smith, LISW-S, LICDC
Often people with anxiety have a running narrative in their mind about how terrible they are and how poorly they function. They call themselves stupid, dumb, lazy, scared and weak. These negative self messages are very damaging and cause depressed mood in addition to anxiety. Now motivation is lessened and the condition is made worse.
When someone is depressed or anxious, it causes problems in the family system and creates difficulty in mental health recovery; which in turn is discouraging.
What I say is that creating self compassion is the quickest way for mental health recovery.
When people come to me for family or couples counseling or for other psychological services, I first discuss my philosophy, which involves a heavy dose of compassion.
What I say is that creating self compassion is the quickest way for mental health recovery. I say that the services we offer create an environment that promotes compassion and self respect.
I talk about how each individual can learn the compassionate response by using imagery, changing their thoughts, through meditation, journaling, and through the conversations with supportive others.
One technique I use with imagery is to have each individual imagine that they are with a child that they love, either a son, daughter, niece, nephew, or friends child. I ask them to identify a child that they love, and imagine that as they are walking with them; this child accidentally trips, falls and skins their knee. This is a young child, possibly 3 years old, and they are crying. I ask the person to tell me what they would do…
Just about every time they state that they would pick up the child, clean off the knee, make sure that it is not a bad injury, and then comfort the child, and tell the child it will be okay. They will hug them, hold them and send them loving feelings and positive encouraging words.
I then compare that to what they say to themselves. I say, if that child was you, would you say the same thing? Inevitably they say no, that they would have a much harsher response to themselves and say some pretty nasty things.
I encourage them to tap into the compassionate response they would have for the child that was not them; that feeling, and those comforting thoughts, when they are anxious, or feeling down is what will begin the healing process.
So, consider a compassionate response to your challenges, consider appropriate compassion for others, while still setting peaceful limits, it just might change your life.
If you are in need of mental health counseling, please reach out to our associates at Behavioral Health Services of Greater Cleveland at one of our two locations: Rocky River and Medina. Family, individual, and couples counseling are available. Please call (866) 466-9591 ext. 0 for an intake.