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Ian’s blog: Finding compassion for yourself is a must

Compassion. Can you feel it?

Perhaps it’s a fair statement to make that one of the things 2020 has seen us all do is find some compassion.

We’ve all felt for those people whose jobs have been affected. We’ve seen and heard about so many people suffering, either through coronavirus itself or through the difficulties linked to the virus such as those unable to access check-ups for cancer, diabetes and the many people who have seen their mental health affected. Families have been torn apart and friendships lost.

And, of course, many lives have been lost due to the pandemic that is coronavirus. To make matters even more complex and therefore more intense, funerals have also suffered as a result of the limitations that this infection has caused. So, unfortunately, people have not had the funerals that they had perhaps hoped for and, understandably, people may well feel that they haven’t been able to pay their respects and say their goodbyes. Grief is therefore prolonged.

And still, even though life isn’t as stagnant as it has been, life beyond your four walls of your home still looks unsure.

Mixed signals from the Government. Exam results now hampering people’s futures and the economy almost ground to a halt. 2020 is a confusing and frustrating time but is also a year of compassion!

Coronavirus has affected the whole world. Regardless, of culture, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, status, age or class perhaps, through the sheer ‘bad’ of this pandemic, the one ‘good’ thing we can take from this whole experience is that NONE of us have been left unaffected and people from various communities really have had to come together and help each other.

Showing such compassion towards each other is probably as humane as you can get. For sure, we’d have had to be some kind of robot to not feel such compassion towards one another; to feel empathy and even sympathy. We wear our masks on buses, trains and in shops, not only because it’s mandatory but also because we want to protect each other, to look out for each other.

One basic human need is to be able to breathe and this virus takes that away. I can only just scratch the surface of this whenever I’ve felt the anxiety within my chest that’s built up and I’ve found myself unable to catch my breath as a result. That is nothing compared to people suffering with the coronavirus symptoms which has seen them needing a breathing ventilator. How scary that must be for them – to experience it really doesn’t bare thinking about so I wear my mask in order to protect you and myself from that.

So much compassion we feel for others but my question to you is: are you able to show that same compassion for yourself?

Maybe it’s our culture. It is easier to show compassion for others but showing compassion for ourselves, well, this can become a stumbling block for so many. So is it that ‘stiff upper lip’ that stops us showing ourselves the same compassion we show others?

Dare we sit and give ourselves ‘permission’ to feel frustrated? If so, does that then mean we have an anger problem?

If I’m feeling sad because I’ve lost a friend or family relative, does this make me weak? Does your exam results or job loss mean you are a failure? Even when it comes to the many people who have been furloughed, spending all of this time at home with their family, their kids, does this mean they’re lazy?

We’ve just about passed the mark of halfway through the year and despite so much uncertainty, all of what you think and feel is understandable and we are all in the same boat as each other. Of course, one may handle things differently to the next person because we are all different but during such unprecedented times, perhaps neither way is right and neither way is wrong. Whatever has worked for you is the correct way but just remember this, whatever it is that you are going through;

  • You are allowed to feel upset, sad and tearful
  • You are allowed to cry and please do since this will help to ease that pressure that you may feel building deep within you
  • You are allowed to feel frustrated and angry
  • You are allowed to feel anxious, confused, unsure, stressed, low and depressed

Do find compassion for yourself and allow yourself to feel but also remember to let people you hold dear to you know you love them because they love you too.

Do enjoy spending time with your family and your friends whenever you can and try not to feel guilty about it. Do make new and fun memories with your family, your kids and again, do not feel guilty about it.

If you find praying, walking, drawing, doing puzzles, learning a new skill, cooking, mindfulness, meditation helpful then go for it. Be kind to yourself.

All of any such ill feelings you feel are normal given what’s going on but what isn’t right is allowing those feelings and those thoughts to fester. By not talking or at least finding a way to offload those pent-up emotions such as writing, music or some other creative and expressive pursuit, then allowing these feelings to build up isn’t good.

The reality of it is anxiety and low mood, perhaps even depression itself, are going to be a natural response to the tricky and traumatic events of 2020 but any such things do not just simply go away and a great way of starting to see the light at the end of this long tunnel is to find compassion for yourself.

That compassion you feel for others, please feel it for yourself too. It’s a must. Do find that empathy for yourself by giving yourself time and by looking after yourself, your mind and your body because you’re worth it.

Find your voice and express it. Express how you feel, whether that’s with your family and friends or with a service such as Guide-Line, a confidential telephone line that’s run by Mind in Bradford (01274 594594).

Please talk. It’s important. You are important. Never forget that!

Ian is a Mind in Bradford client and volunteer

Posted on: 23rd September 2020