Cultivating Compassion for Change
Compassion is a genuine desire to reduce suffering, a soft space free of judgment that we often and easily feel for others. What we fail to realize is that our compassion is not complete unless we feel it for ourselves. As a therapist I work with incredible individuals who, in a heartbeat, would jump to the defense of loved ones, offer kind words to ease someone's suffering, and would never berate those around them yet, when it comes to how they treat themselves, it is a different story. In my practice, if I did not promote an emotionally safe environment, if I was angry and judgmental, criticizing and shaming, not only would my patients never come back, but if they did, they could not effectively heal. Essentially, that is the exact nature of the environment we create within ourselves and then we wonder why, when we attempt to make life changes, we fail. Think about the way you talk to yourself, the judgments placed, the pain inflicted and the harassing nature of the negative voice in your head. If you treated anyone else the way you treat yourself they would never be your friend and in fact, in some cases, could have you arrested! Change requires the ability to be vulnerable, how can someone be vulnerable in such a malicious environment? The answer is you cannot. Let us take a look at someone who has embarked on the journey of recovery. Recovery is precious and fragile especially in its early stages and the number one thing that undermines recovery is shame. Shame is the underlying belief that one is fundamentally wrong or bad. Shame leads people into addiction and so often, off the path of recovery. Shame comes cloaked in secrecy and judgement and is hard to identify. There is little that can stop shame dead in its tracks, save for one thing; Compassion. Shame cannot thrive in a compassionate environment. Thus, personal change, big or small, begins with cultivating compassion for yourself . Once you practice compassion, true, long lasting and meaningful transformation can occur.
Since 2010, Amie Hawthorne has been a therapist at Cottonwood Tucson, an in-patient treatment facility in Tucson where she works with a wide range of issues including addiction, trauma and other mental health matters. Amie is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and sees individuals, couples and families in her own private practice as well. In her free time, Amie enjoys running and spending time with her husband and young son.