This may sound like a bizarre problem, but it’s been my problem… so my guess is other people have it.
I’ve had a tendency all my life to put myself in other people’s shoes so easily that even when I get hurt, I bypass my feelings.
This is how it would typically play out:
I feel hurt.
I think about what they must be going through or what may have happened to them for them to say or do what they said. (I even teach these tools in Compassion Code Academy and in my book because many people struggle with the opposite challenge of finding forgiveness).
And then I would make up a story about what they are going through and say to myself something like, “oh, they acted like that because they are hurting. I forgive them because they are probably having a really hard time.”
However, that didn’t serve me in the long term, and I’ll tell you why in a minute.
For those of us where compassion comes easily and forgiveness is almost immediate, this part is for you.
You are allowed to feel.
You can feel angry, sad, disappointed, devastated and any other feeling… before you jump to compassionate understanding and forgiveness, and it is actually better for everyone involved.
While I’m a strong believer in forgiveness (forgiveness is letting go of resentment against an offender for your freedom)…
It’s important not to skip over your own experience and your own feelings before you go there.
This is because compassion for others without compassion for self is what actually leaves us feeling burned out, isolated, disappointed, and sometimes even resentful.
The reason this pattern lasted so long for me was because I had an addiction to approval. It felt good for people to tell me how wonderful it was that I was able to forgive so easily.
However, giving myself a moment to feel all the feelings before jumping to forgiveness is actually the most self-compassionate response.
So how do we remedy this?
- Pause before you think about others and take a big breath.
- Give yourself permission to feel (including the tough feelings), even if it is only for a moment.
- Find a safe place to express your feelings without judgment or guilt. (a journal, a non-judgmental listening ear, or a professional).
- Then find your compassionate understanding, “What may they being going through?”
- Forgive (they don’t need to know) and set yourself free.
Remember compassion for others without compassion for self is what leads to compassion fatigue, empathy overload, burnout, and a loss of self.
And if you’re that good at finding compassion and forgiveness for others, we need you in the world…
And we want you filled up and overflowing with self-love and self-compassion so you can be a Compassionate Warrior or as I like to call the Lighthouse of Love that will help build bridges rather than barriers in are hurting, divided world.