Michell wrote me about her unimaginably difficult situation, and how she’s feeling hopeless and lost:
”I am just about homeless, I don’t have any income as I am waiting for a disability decision, and my family thinks I am able to work, so they’re on my case about it. Plus, a guy I was seeing for a few months ended things because he felt I was making everything about me, instead of taking into consideration what he was going through.
I’m so broken and lost, plus I hate myself right now. I really need your help!!”
In my advice column ‘’Self-compassion Support’’ I try to answer your questions with the best gentle & grounded guidance I’ve got.
Could use some fluff-free advice rooted in the practice of self-compassion yourself, too?
Thank you so much for reaching out. My heart really goes out to you.
I have to be honest, I don’t believe this is the right time for inner work. And I do believe all these difficult feelings might be situational – your brain’s attempt at protecting you from feeling all the hurt, loss and suffering that’s there. Because right now it is simply too much to process and there is no safe witness to help you through it.
So, the invitations I want to offer you are focused on ways you might be able to support yourself in this incredibly hard time of your life, despite everything you’re feeling (about yourself) right now.
But before we dive in, please know this: These practices may seem frivolous, insignificant even, but it’s the small, daily actions with which we can show ourselves we’re still in this together. And we don’t need to love or even like ourselves in order to be able to do these things. We don’t need to feel whole, or okay, or hopeful. We can show ourselves, through our actions, that we’re supported anyway, no matter how we feel.
Supporting yourself when you’re feeling hopeless and lost – 3 simple practices
#1 Find a way to remind yourself of that part of you that wrote to me.
I think it’s important to remind yourself as often as possible of the fact that she’s still there. The hateful and/or hopeless voice is probably A LOT louder than this more quiet, supportive voice, but she’s also very much present. The first one is not going anywhere for now I’m afraid, so all you can do is make sure you don’t forget about the second one. You are not going at this alone, you have yourself, you still have that part of you that believes you deserve better and wants to fight for that.
➡️ So let’s start with drawing her, giving her her own name, figuring out which animal she reminds you of, writing about her, looking for an object that feels connected to her, anything to make her a bit more tangible.
#2 Create a practice for yourself to reconnect with her.
Let it be quick and easy – it shouldn’t feel like a burden, because the invitation is to do this thing several times a day. And this practice can be anything, the only criterium is that it works for you. Here are a few suggestions from me:
- Caressing your pointer finger with your thumb, or clasping your hands, or gently patting your leg (anything including the body has the extra bonus of physically reminding yourself that you are still there).
- Looking at yourself in the mirror and giving yourself a smile (forced or not), or wink, or doing supportive finger guns.
- Holding an object in your hands for a moment, or reading a few words, or looking at a picture (from practice #1).
➡️ Find a simple way to acknowledge yourself and the part of you that’s ready and willing to ask for help, the part of you that is trying to prevent you from getting swallowed whole by this experience. Then, commit to this multiple-times-a-day-practice as if it is sacred, because it is.
#3 Every day, take a moment to read these reminders to yourself.
Derived from the human bill of rights from Pete Walker’s book C-PTSD, these are human rights we all have, but tend to forget about when we’ve been through and/or are still going through traumatic times:
- I have the right to have my own feelings, beliefs, opinions, preferences, etc.
- I have the right to be treated with respect.
- I have the right to reject unsolicited advice or feedback.
- I have the right to negotiate for change.
- I have a right to ask for help.
- I have a right to allow help and (emotional) support into my life.
- I have the right to grow, evolve and prosper.
The time I was in a similar situation, feeling hopeless and lost, and how that turned out
Although I really don’t have the intention to make this about me, I think my story might help you hold onto hope a little while longer.
When I was 19 I couldn’t live at home anymore, because of my disability and the abuse I was facing there. Even with waitlist priority the situation was bleak; the only housing this priority allowed me to get, I couldn’t afford, because I only got a partial disability benefit due to my age.
I was about to give up, completely. And then there was this social worker, Ingeborg, whom I already had been in contact with for a while. One day, for a moment, I stopped talking about all the practical stuff, got vulnerable, and told her openly and honestly about my horrible experience at that time.
After that conversation, she arranged for me to be 1 out of 15 people the government could make an exception for, which allowed me to find affordable housing, and within 2 months I was standing in my apartment, knowing all the healing (and my life in general) could finally begin.
Miracles DO happen.
I could never have imagined that she would be the person to make it all possible AND I had no idea such an exception existed.
➡️ Tell your story to anybody willing to listen, Michell.
Get on all the waitlists, do everything in your power to try to get waitlist priority, and ask anyone and everyone you can think of for help (social workers, acquaintances, (old) friends, etc.).
There might very well be an Ingeborg out there for you, too. 💛
I wish you all the luck and strength in the world.
Yours in all things self-compassion,
Hi, it’s me, Shirley!
A few years ago I decided to stop making my life any harder than it already was. And since then my life has been perfect.
Okay, that’s a lie.
But thanks to my self-compassion practice I now know how I can, time and time again, find my way back to my authentic self. And that’s what makes my life so much more easeful & joyful these days.
Let’s cultivate more self-compassion together!
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