Defeating Complex Trauma with Self-compassion

No one is harder on a survivor of complex trauma than the survivor. Survivors feel they are a burden, are unable to have a voice for themselves, or feel shame. Also, survivors often lack trust in who they are and believe no one is trustworthy.


This article will focus on self-compassion and how relational trauma causes harm, especially when you are affected by dissociative identity disorder.


Unresolved Relational Trauma Harms Self-Compassion



Self-compassion can be described as caring for oneself by acknowledging and respecting one’s emotional needs. Because of complex trauma, survivors do not understand how to practice self-compassion and learn how to nurture, love, and respect themselves.


A type of trauma you may not have heard much about is relational trauma. Relational trauma happens when a child’s sense of safety and love from their family is constantly disrupted. This type of trauma occurs in childhood when the bonding between a child and their parent is disrupted. This interruption has grave consequences for the child because the bond between parent and child is essential in shaping who they will become as they grow and form new relationships outside the home.


A broken bond between parents and child also affects how the child sees and treats themself. With unresolved relational trauma comes self-critical thoughts and intolerance of our mistakes. We may even engage in self-harming behaviors, such as suicidal thoughts or actions.


Folks who grew up in a dysfunctional home where the bond was interrupted also are plagued with critical thoughts about themselves and feeling intolerant of their mistakes. Those living with a wounded soul because of relational trauma and the trauma bond they have developed with those around them have difficulty showing themselves self-compassion.


The Cornerstones of Self-Compassion



Compassion can be translated as “feel moved by” or “feel with” someone else’s experience. Typically, compassion forms in response to someone else’s suffering that evokes in us a desire to understand why they are hurting and a need to offer them help and kindness.


You deserve the same intentional warmth and care you would offer someone else. Recovery from trauma involves creating positive coping strategies and focusing your attention on your strengths. Self-compassion aids in healing by offering yourself the support and love you deserve.


If the survivor ignores their need for self-compassion, they are missing out on the power it can bring and gain a lot of problems with their self-esteem. The cornerstone of healing from complex trauma, self-compassion, has three components: common humanity, self-kindness, and mindfulness.


Common humanity. It is vital to recognize that suffering and pain are universal.


Self-kindness. It is critical to become warm towards oneself when experiencing emotional pain. Self-kindness means we do not hurt ourselves through self-criticism.


Mindfulness. This component aids survivors by taking a balanced approach to negative emotions and helps avoid suppressing them. Using non-judgmental mindfulness, one can observe our thoughts and feelings without denying them. Mindfulness requires that we do not overidentify with any emotional thought patterns that cause adverse reactions because it ends ruminations on those thoughts.


The Two Actions that Will Increase Self-Compassion



According to Dr. Arielle Schwartz, “Self-compassion involves two key actions. First, we must set limits for ourselves to reduce habitual negative thoughts and behaviors that perpetuate harm. Second, we must repeatedly practice new kind thoughts and behaviors. Self-compassion becomes easier and more accessible when we revisit this practice regularly.”


Let us examine deeper the six actions that will increase self-compassion.


Set Limits for Yourself. Many who grew up in dysfunctional settings now need to show self-compassion to heal from childhood maltreatment, become people-pleasers, and have an inner critic that works against them. By setting simple limits for themselves, survivors can overcome the critical things they think and say about themselves and find self-compassion.


The limits one should set for oneself are as follows.


  • Ask for support
  • Watch out for self-sacrificing behaviors
  • Permit yourself to say “NO.”
  • Do loving-kindness meditation
  • Practice tuning into your emotions


Ask for support. Learn how to reach out to someone else if you feel uncomfortable with your newfound self-compassion. You do not need to struggle alone, as most people you meet are friendly and want to help. Seek professional mental health help if you are overwhelmed by negative thoughts and feelings while learning to be compassionate to yourself. You deserve to be treated with kindness and love.


Watch out for self-sacrificing behaviors. You must set firm protective boundaries to keep you safe from people-pleasing behaviors. Remember that you are worthwhile and what you think and feel is vital. Practice not allowing other people to use you; instead, take good care of yourself.


Permit yourself to say “NO.” No is the most powerful word in the English language. You can refuse to put others ahead of your needs with the word no. It is critical to say no when your needs have not been met, when others would have you sacrifice yourself for them. Just say no.


Do Loving-Kindness Meditation. You may think you don’t have the time to meditate because, in your mind, it involves sitting in a strange position and repeating a sound while thinking. However, meditation is much more than that; it involves simply thinking deeply about yourself and what you want from life. By spending time with yourself in meditation, you can quiet the inner critic by employing positive reinforcements and visualizations of who you want to be.


Practice Tuning Into Your Emotions. People who have survived childhood maltreatment sometimes have become separated from their emotions because they had to if they were to survive. It is critical to tune back into your emotions by recognizing and appropriately expressing them with a friend or mental health professional. Only when you learn to tap into your emotions, can you truly heal.


You will become more self-assured and increase self-love by following these five limits.


Ending Our Time Together


If you wish to defeat the effects of complex post-traumatic stress disorder in your life, you must first overcome your inner critic and learn self-compassion. You can do many things to help you love yourself, such as the six limits mentioned above and many more that were not covered in this piece.


Self-love is vital in healing from complex and relational trauma. One cannot go around, under, or above the past trauma; one must pass through and be reborn on the other side.


Self-compassion can aid you in completing your journey to peace and self-acceptance.


“The worst loneliness is to not be comfortable with yourself.” – Mark Twain


“You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” – Sharon Salzberg


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