The Most Important Part of Healing

Folks like us tend to show great empathy to others but lack compassion for ourselves. I’ve learned that I cannot support change when I ignore, berate, or constantly demand more from myself.

Misfits get stuck between the teachings of our childhoods and recognition that the people who taught us those things were sick and selfish. We exonerate them by saying, “They did the best they could.”

If only we judged ourselves as kindly…

We live at the extremes – some of us being as we were raised to and others of us rebelling (often silently). Living up to others expectations means we are not free to choose identities, passions, and purposes.

Even still, we seek approval from others while disapproving of ourselves.

Despite feeling inadequate, we readily identify other people’s strengths and potential. We freely affirm and validate them. We have an affinity for the underdog and will readily invest, champion, and support their cause. In doing so, we give away the things we most want to receive.

Secretly and silently we await reciprocity.

We resent it when it’s not forthcoming and run from it when it is.

Giving requires little vulnerability. Receiving demands it.

The single most important thing for people like you and I is to cease being our own worst enemies. This is not a nice ideal, like learning to love yourself. This is a necessity. It’s choosing to treat ourselves as we do those whose growth we support.
I’ve learned to incorporate fairness into the framework of my life. Without this mindset, beating up on myself gets justified as, “I just have very high standards for myself.”

I’ve learned that in any struggle, I am free to silence my asshole inner critic and ask, “If this were the life of a friend, how would I see it? What would I offer them and urge them to do?

If we’re completely honest, we can acknowledge that we’re all longing to connect with people like ourselves. We crave intimacy and friendship. The older we get, the harder it is to admit that we need these things. Better to be like children who simply and directly ask, “Will you be my friend?”

Instead we make it complicated. I often talk with people who agonize for months over the prospect of asking someone to coffee.

We fear rejection. I’ve learned that allowing my fear to prevent me from asking is a rejection of myself.

To misfits, acknowledging our needs means accepting responsibility for getting them met. This explains our tendency to remain unclear as to our wants and needs and feelings.

Deep down we still want someone else to right the wrongs and we’re angry that no one’s shown up fix it (us). I saw that I was stuck in wanting things to be fair. It would have been far more just that those who hurt me should have been the ones to sit in therapy and cry.

I see in retrospect that I justified not going to therapy by saying, “It wouldn’t change anything” and that by “anything” I meant, the people who I wanted to change.
Instead, I changed me. Loving me is a work in progress. But I’ll be damned if I’ll be unfair to me. That’s the lesson. I’m on my side and nothing can sway me from that.

Jim LaPierre

About Jim LaPierre

Jim LaPierre LCSW CCS is the Executive Director of Higher Ground Services in Brewer, Maine. He is a Recovery Ally, mental health therapist and addictions counselor. He specializes in facilitating recovery (whether from addiction, trauma, depression, anxiety, or past abuse) overcome obstacles, and improve their quality of life. Jim offers a limited amount of online therapy to those with very flexible schedules.