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Wayward Side :
Fierce Self-Compasion

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 hikingout (original poster member #59504) posted at 4:38 AM on Tuesday, March 1st, 2022

I am reading Fierce Self Compassion by Kristen Neff. There are some passages that challenge some of my beliefs about self compassion, and I thought I would share what I am connecting with.

As WS, I think we often have unhealthy relationships with ourselves and that is rooted in shame. The sources of that for me date back to childhood. Sexual abuse, verbal and emotional abuse, the ways that made me a weird kid that never self like I fit in, etc are mine. To me I think that always made me feel insecure, inferior, and like a bad person.

I can trace about all of it by now to becoming a perfectionist, over-doing for people so that they will love me, not leave me, hiding a lot of my internal world and genuinely ignoring it myself and not giving myself a voice. Just bury it and smile. A lot of Brene Brown’s book rising strong made me aware of my shame and how it was sabotaging my life.

These days I keep stumbling onto what I think of as branches of the tree that those shame roots grew. They are thoughts and behaviors that serve no purpose and are limiting. For me this is now more like a little pruning. But I find new little things regularly: this was one of the things that has kept me on this site because there is a lot here to "try on" and then either find it doesn’t fit, something I like, or something to work on.

So, I started reading this book after hearing it in some other sources of self help that I follow. Mostly because self compassion is the hardest thing to hold for me. I have to be kind of vigilant about it - I have a favorIte go to move to try and deal with lack of kindness towards myself. I will bring myself into the present moment and soothe that thought and reframe how I am narrating.

So for example when something brings up the memory of my cheating or watching my husband be destroyed in the aftermath - I might say to myself that I am no longer cheating, that I am not the same person anymore. And that I can’t change the past, I just have to keep moving towards the future. But I still have loathing for that person (not disassociating from being that same person, just hating that version) I am kind of simplifying it a bit so it gets to the point with the book.

In this book she suggests that we sometimes hate ourselves in the process of trying to convince ourselves that we are a good person. And in the process it’s keeping us from truly having self compassion, instead it’s another way of beating ourselves up endlessly.

I think everyone struggles with self compassion, but obviously in the wake of realizing the damage we cause, the bad decisions we have made, etc. it’s very hard to get your head above water. Do we just feel better by saying how horrible we were so we can convince ourselves that we are now good people? I think so, it’s very illuminating. Hopefully someone else can benefit, if nothing else it’s a thought provoking book. I am still working on figuring out how this fits with what I should do or think differently (or not) moving forward.

I also thought that I am not a judgmental person, but I have discovered in some ways I am and how that has limited some of my relationships. I read this is a product of an unresolved superiority complex. I could find myself relating to that as well. Now I look for that filter and how its effecting how I am presenting something to others. I have caught it now a few times.

For so long I was afraid to put away the self punishment for fear of what that meant. However I have found as I have made honest efforts to do that that the fear was unwarranted, it actually made me less fragile and more sturdy. Less defensive and more open minded to feed back.

I am not sure that I am really looking for any thing specific here but would welcome some other things you have learned about self compassion. How is your relationship with yourself evolving as time moves forward? Reading this has really made me curious to what else I have backwards?

[This message edited by hikingout at 5:06 AM, Tuesday, March 1st]

5 years of hard work
Reconciled
WS & BS

posts: 6083   ·   registered: Jul. 5th, 2017   ·   location: Arizona
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MIgander ( member #71285) posted at 1:53 PM on Tuesday, March 1st, 2022

Thanks HO for this today. I'm going to look up that book and listen to it. Hopefully they have it on Audible.

Really struggling today with this. Had a bad couple days with the kids, BH is depressed and becoming hopeless again about us. He's going back to looking at my lack of providing his needs for him and had a hard MC session where he had to look at his FOO issues and how they color his perception and reactions to me. His struggles, my struggles with the kids and our M and struggles with myself have got me weighed down with the whole, "just one more thing to fix." Having trouble finding the things to be proud of or even like about myself today and only feeling like just one big walking fuck up.

Anyhow, thanks for the suggestion, I'm going to take a look at it.

WW/BW Dday July 2019. BH/WH- multiple EA's. Ending current one of his own accord- recognized it as "inappropriate" and stopping. Still won't call them A's... can't have everything in life.

Nothing changes if nothing changes.

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Oldwounds ( member #54486) posted at 5:05 PM on Wednesday, March 2nd, 2022

I can trace about all of it by now to becoming a perfectionist, over-doing for people so that they will love me, not leave me, hiding a lot of my internal world and genuinely ignoring it myself and not giving myself a voice.

My wife explained this sentence almost word for word to me a few years ago, as we decided to work on R together.

She is just recently breaking through some of the negative or hateful self talk, or inner thoughts that was holding her back in her healing early on.

I may need to suggest this book to her, if she feels like it will help her progress.

Married 34+ years, together 40+ years
Two awesome adult sons.
Dday 6/16 4-year LTA Survived
Restoration takes time.
"Circumstances don't make the man, they only reveal him to himself." ― Epictetus

posts: 4352   ·   registered: Aug. 4th, 2016   ·   location: PNW. The adventure continues.
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 hikingout (original poster member #59504) posted at 4:20 AM on Thursday, March 3rd, 2022

I have not read enough of it yet to know if I recommend it. I just really liked this thought. I also liked the books "the mountain is you" and "101 essays to change the way you think"

I can appreciate how long this takes. I work on it as much as I can, but it’s not easy to change so much about your inner world. I think at least these days I have a vision of what it can be, that helps me sort.

When I started, it was to fix. To prove. To be "good"

Now it’s not to fix. It’s to improve, grow, and make the best journey. I deserve so much that I didn’t give myself in my first half of life. And my family deserves uncomplicated, non-transactional love too. I hope your wife continues because our work on our relationship with ourselves are always strengthening our external ones.

I write this not to brag but to tell my fellow ws’s it’s possible and in front of them. Find a way to put away the shame, it is not serving you in any way.

[This message edited by hikingout at 4:51 AM, Thursday, March 3rd]

5 years of hard work
Reconciled
WS & BS

posts: 6083   ·   registered: Jul. 5th, 2017   ·   location: Arizona
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MrsWalloped ( member #62313) posted at 5:03 PM on Thursday, March 3rd, 2022

Hi HO!

I haven’t responded to this yet because my thoughts have been all over the place on this. So much of what you said resonates and was my life experience too. Verbal abuse, a whole mindset and internal operating system that I had nothing in life to offer and was of no value, which drove a perfectionist lifestyle and "acts of good" to prove my worth and value to everyone but me.

Do we just feel better by saying how horrible we were so we can convince ourselves that we are now good people?


This caught my eye because my experience after DDay has been a bit different. I don’t think of myself as a good person. I haven’t done the "I was this person but now I’m a different person." thing. It’s something I haven’t been able to break away from. It’s there and it’s like this huge mountain. I’m not wallowing in shame daily but I can’t let that mountain go.

So instead my therapist and I have tried a different approach. What I’ve learned is to say I did this (the A) AND I’ve done this too (positive things and work since the A). So, I acknowledge the things I did wrong AND I acknowledge what I’ve done since that is positive. And all of it is me. This helps me on the judgmental side as well because it really brings into focus that people have different parts to them and have done different things, both good and bad and that’s normal. It’s helps with the shame because it’s now a part of me and not the whole of me and the other things that I’ve done that are good are not thrown away or discarded.

I don’t think I’m being ver clear here. Regardless, however you approach it, having self-compassion is very hard and very important. My challenge has been that self-compassion can sometimes look to much like saying I’m okay with what I did. So I tend to tilt in the other direction, which of course feeds the shame monster. That’s the work. Balancing your internal mind, keeping what you did in there and not burying it but also not letting it consume you and prevent you from growing and living and doing good things for yourself, your family and your loved ones.

Me: WW 47
My BH: Walloped 48
A: 3/15 - 8/15 (2 month EA, turned into 3 month PA)
DDay: 8/3/15
In R

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Copec ( new member #79885) posted at 7:03 PM on Thursday, March 3rd, 2022

HO, thank you for sharing! I can relate to so much of what you said. Self love is so hard. Not shaming myself is so hard. Communicating and not burying every emotion and thought is so hard. But the work is good and I am hopeful i will get to a place of love and acceptance for all of me and all my actions. And I want to continue doing the work as long as I live. Thank you for posting this.

WS/mad hatter-8 months post DDay.

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 hikingout (original poster member #59504) posted at 6:50 AM on Friday, March 4th, 2022

I don’t have much time right now- but wanted to say thanks Mrs Walloped. I think that what you said makes a lot of sense.

I don’t think of myself as good or bad, but human. But I do think at times I condemn those things as a means to separate myself from them. I am going to try the framing you suggest here and see if it like you said balances better.

I am different and the same. It’s simple
And complex.

Copec- I am glad this helped you. I think you will make it to the other side of this. It’s early days and it’s hard in the beginning but keep
Reaching.

5 years of hard work
Reconciled
WS & BS

posts: 6083   ·   registered: Jul. 5th, 2017   ·   location: Arizona
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BraveSirRobin ( Guide #69242) posted at 4:43 PM on Sunday, May 22nd, 2022

Bump

WW/BW

posts: 2748   ·   registered: Dec. 27th, 2018
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RocketRaccoon ( member #54620) posted at 3:51 AM on Monday, May 23rd, 2022

No Stop sign, so here goes....

We do not know everything, and part of the journey of Life, is learning.

In the process of learning, we may do things that are not 'right', but the important thing is, that we learn from it, and if possible, make it 'right'.

Acceptance that nobody is perfect, and the idea of perfection is not real. It is something to aim for, but never reach.

If we base our self-value on this, then it is a lost cause, as we will never be satisfied with ourselves. We will never find peace, contentment, happiness, and more, as we would be too busy trying to reach Perfection.

From my experience, I have one big regret, and that was breaking the heart of one of my girlfriends. No infidelity was involved, but I did not have the courage nor the grace, to do it face to face. Instead, I wrote a hurtful letter to her whilst I was on a plane off to a new country. The misguided intent was to make her hate me so that she could get over me quickly (screwed up logic, and I was a screwed up kid), so that she could get on with her, and I could focus on my studies. Did not date nor fool around for quite a while, so much so, that my course-mates looked at me funny laugh .

Would I do it again? Nope. I believe I learned from it. It was a dick move, and would not want to hurt someone like that again. Does it mean I beat myself up over it (well, I kinda did for about a year)? Nope, I have learned from it, and embrace that I did it. Proud of it? Nope, but accept that I did it.

I think at the baseline of it all, is Acceptance. Accept what we have done, and learn from it, so that we do not repeat shitty behaviour like that again.

Self-flagellation is not a good look.

You cannot cure stupid

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 hikingout (original poster member #59504) posted at 11:59 AM on Tuesday, May 24th, 2022

I was surprised after another break to come back and find this thread active again. Then it became another opportunity to realize how much my perspective on this has changed in the last few months.

We have had 3 separate tragedies in the last few months. Devastating loss. And I have learned a lot from all of them. They are the reason I feel so much more at ease with my self compassion these days. It’s as if I took all the learning of the past five years and took it through a series of tests that I am pleased with my own performance on.

They have taught me life is shorter than we think and reminded me nothing is ever promised. We never know what’s around the next corner.

I have shown up for so many hard things I could never have imagined facing head in like I have and there is a confidence and trust I have in myself that has never been so solid. I didn’t control, I held space. I self soothed. I cried buckets (if some of you remember crying was elusive to me in my early days here unless of course it was over the consequences of my own actions. My numbed out heart and my shame in myself and loathing eclipsed my softer side)

The past five years has been a series of trial that every time I think I am done the universe shows me how much further that I had to go. I imagine this is my new norm in some ways. But more pointedly, Discouragement would often chase me back into my hole of shame that I had burrowed in most of my life. My default coping. The cycles of the shame growing shorter over time and the light growing longer.

I have been strong, kind, I have held boundaries when I needed rest and I heard many things that I took in without reacting. I have learned rather than automatically adjust my behavior to what my H is suggesting, I integrate it with my own needs and wants and work to negotiate. In the old days I would have complied, scared to death of not being lovable. I have always made myself small and low maintenance.

The thing about that is it leads to martyrdom, which is so unfair when you are actually the person choosing it. You create the problem and blame your yourself.

The one thing that still rings true in that post is I am not the same person as I was five years ago. The construct of that person lacked foundation. I have that foundation now, and it’s so clear and evident to me. I am 5 years and one month past the start of the most destructive and wrong thing I have ever done and I can say knowing what my construct was then it’s really no wonder I was trying to blow up my life. I don’t know how I got so asleep at the wheel so I understand the vigilance and self awareness has to be a priority.

I don’t worry about cheating as the next way I would try and blow up my life.I just know without the vigilance moving forward and that foundation I have grown I would likely find another destructive behavior that would take me down again.

I am very lucky to say from the betrayed side, I see his growth and foundation is different too. It’s amazing the relationship two people who have learned to love themselves can have. As we grieve the recent deaths and tragedies, we are so open and vulnerable in a way we could never have been before. The old me would have been running double time to try and control by showing up in my superwoman routine as a ruse of trying to prove my worth. Not just to earn the love but also to distract myself from actually dealing with the situation.

I didn’t have to wear that mask and I can clearly see that was a relief to him. It allowed him to show up authentically without trying to manage me or my feelings.

In the past few years I have overcome unhealthy levels of worry, overthinking, self doubt, needing to present myself to others in a certain way. I mean, everyone has those things to a certain extent but I have grown the coping skills to manage them to a very healthy level.

I just do not relate a lot to what I said above anymore outside of how important self compassion is for healing both of you.

For my fellow ws, the goal is not the thinking it’s the doing. And the more you like how you are doing the things (leaning into love over fear, working on yourself, showing up in general) the more you will like yourself. The more you talk or think about it and not follow through, the more shame you are piling on yourself. Actions. The more you have the more you will realize "you got this" and the better relationship you will have with yourself. Master that and it will have a profound effect over your relationships with others.

[This message edited by hikingout at 12:42 PM, Tuesday, May 24th]

5 years of hard work
Reconciled
WS & BS

posts: 6083   ·   registered: Jul. 5th, 2017   ·   location: Arizona
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humantrampoline ( member #61458) posted at 1:27 PM on Tuesday, May 24th, 2022

hikingout,

I'm sorry to hear about your recent losses. I hope your daughters and their new families are well. I especially appreciate the hopeful message on learning to deal with difficulties in a healthier way. Thank you for the update and book recommendation.

posts: 543   ·   registered: Nov. 17th, 2017
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sisoon ( Moderator #31240) posted at 8:24 PM on Tuesday, May 24th, 2022

I, too, am sorry to read of your recent losses.

I didn’t have to wear that mask and I can clearly see that was a relief to him.

Yes, yes, yes. It's so much easier to deal with a real person. It's so much easier to stay real when the person in front of me is real, too. Co-dependence makes life so much more difficult and less joyful!

I know being real risks surfacing irreconcilable differences. It's a risk I'm willing to take.

I want to give credit where it's due: an incredibly insightful comment by truthsetmefree triggered a thought for a me: We all have a dark side. I think we recognize the dark sides of people we love, even if they don't. I think I liked my W in part because of her dark side, even though I didn't understand it. But that's different from whether or not she accepts her dark side; she didn't. Accepting one's dark side may be a difference between WSes and people who don't cheat, and it may be a difference between WSes and former WSes.

Fierce self-compassion may be a prerequisite for healing. I suspect that beating yourself up leads almost naturally to wanting to avoid act in an evil way. Accepting one's dark side can lead to wanting to live in a good way.

Avoiding evil IMO creates a path through a wickedly difficult maze with lots of twists and turns and dead ends. Wanting to live Good Life creates a path that's pretty straight. You might not always see an easy way through an apparent obstacle, but I believe it's usually easier to figure out which way to go than which way to avoid.

Anyhow, I'm very happy to read your report. Congratulations to you and your H.

fBH (me) - on d-day: 66, Married 43, together 45, same sex ap
DDay - 12/22/2010
Recover'd and R'ed
You don't have to like your boundaries. You just have to set and enforce them.

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