Whatever the circumstances of your accident, you are suffering and deserve compassion. A special challenge at this time is striving for self-compassion, even as you hold yourself accountable for the harm done. How would you treat a friend or family member in your situation? You would probably be gentle, loving, and patient. Can you extend this same love and kindness to yourself?
Self-compassion means that we reject the harsh, self-punishing, shaming voice inside us. Instead, we acknowledge our mistakes and our feelings with kindness. One definition we like is, “Self-compassion is acceptance of ourselves while we are in pain.” Self-compassion does not mean evading responsibility, numbing our pain, or avoiding our feelings.
Pay attention to your inner dialogue and the messages you give yourself. Are you harsh and punishing toward yourself? Do you tell yourself that you are bad, that you deserve to suffer, or that you should get over this on your own? What might you say to a friend who said these things about him or herself? Can you extend the same kindness to yourself? The depth of your despair is evidence of your caring. Recognize that you carry love in your heart.
You don’t have to move to an Ashram in India to pursue mindfulness. When we are mindful, we are aware and accepting of reality. Instead of avoiding or judging our pain, we do our best to accept it. The opposite of mindfulness is running away from our feelings or criticizing ourselves for having them. When we do this, we are left feeling even worse. You can find dozens of “how-to” guides to mindfulness on the web, but all mindfulness methods start with noticing and accepting.
Dr. Tara Brach offers a 4-fold approach to Radical Compassion, which you can remember as RAIN.