You know how we have a voice in our head, the one that is our insecurity, our fear? The one who tells us we will fail? Or that our waist looks thick in that dress? That we don’t deserve the love of another person? Well I created a counter-voice.
I call her “compassionate me”.
Compassionate me rubs my (subconscious) back, she ignores that negative voice, she whispers in my imaginary ear the same truth I would tell my daughter.
“Forgive yourself, you are human.”
“Do not expect so much of yourself, you are doing better than you think.”
“You were scared and suffering, of course you didn’t react the way someone who was calm would.”
“Okay, so you screwed up. You can take steps to make it better. You can do this, try again.”
I developed her as a coping mechanism, when another negative voice in my head was so loud, repeating memories of my perceived inadequacies as a partner, as a person.
At first I was just imagining a person wrapping their arms around me as I cried, sitting in the shower, where my children couldn’t hear me. I started whispering to myself, “It’s okay.” To try to calm my crying and my breathing. My kids would need me soon.
That’s when I noticed that when my thought patterns turned to soothing, compassionate thoughts for myself, there was a break in the deep fear/grief/guilt I was drowning in. In fact, shifting my focus to nurturance made me feel stronger. Like how we can be strong and calm for our children in situations, where without them, we would feel frantic.
Psychologically, it makes sense; switching from fight or flight response to the tend and befriend one, only with myself. The hormones released when we are comforting others (or in my case, comforting myself) create a feeling of calm and well being, the opposite of the epinephrine one feels while in fight or flight. I was experiencing a flood of oxytocin, the love, trust and bonding hormone. I was literally creating a bond of love and trust with myself, every time I chose to engage compassionate me.
Over the next two years, I expressed her voice in my writing, she was the voice of self forgiveness. She calmly countered the negative voice and never engaged in argument with it. Her focus was solely my emotional well being. My focus became my emotional well being.
Last week, I expressed an insecurity to my boyfriend. I told him that I was scared that he was too kind, too sweet and gentle, that I didn’t deserve him. Then compassionate me whispered in my ear: You too are kind, sweet and gentle. I knew I was truly healing because, I am well aware compassionate me, is just a facet of my own personality and mind. I believed her when she said it and though negative me scrambled to find examples of the opposite, the realization of this truth expanded and negative me didn’t stand a chance.
I can feel compassionate me’s voice and opinions integrating into my everyday thoughts. In fact, the only time I think of her voice as separate from my usual self-narrative is when I am going through a particularly rough time emotionally. Then she emerges a little more solid, her warm imaginary hand on my back, her calm voice reminding me to breath.
“You are safe here.”