one question to ask yourself when suffering

March was a chaotic and somewhat emotionally heavy month for me. I know I wasn’t alone, as several others I had spoken to throughout the month expressed their own version of chaos and emotional heaviness. Although we often create our own suffering, don’t we?

We procrastinate on having the tough conversations we know we need to have. All the while; stewing, brewing, and ruminating.

We don’t share our needs and then get upset when our unknown needs aren’t being met.

We don’t have boundaries but then get angry when we’re taken advantage of or taken for granted.

One of the best quotes I’ve heard in a long time was this:

The more you know yourself, the less likely you’ll look to others to tell you who you are. – Kristin Sherry

A part of knowing ourselves is having an awareness of our strengths, values, and how we’re wired. When we know these things about ourselves, and out of respect for ourselves, communicate from this inner-knowing, we can look at others and consider that they, too, have differing strengths, values, and are wired differently.

This week was another death-versary of my dad being gone, and this one felt a little heavier than usual. Perhaps it was the End-of-Life Doula training I recently finished or, the conversations I’ve been having for the podcast. Either way, “stuff” came up for me this week that I didn’t expect.

I journaled about what I was feeling and here is an excerpt:

…The past two years have been the most incredible period of growth for me. Had I not sought to sweep my own doorstep, I would have never realized my potential of being a healer and lightworker that is here to serve and be a beacon of hope. I would have continued to blame, point fingers, or be a victim. None of these behaviors woud have moved me forward. It is as if I had been driving my car of life while looking in the rearview mirror. What is done is done. I can’t change it. I can’t changed all that I’ve experienced since my dad died. It is what it is. But, I’m so glad I got tired of telling myself the lie that suffering was my destiny.

We live into the stories we tell ourselves. We fulfill our own prophecies if we believe them. If you come from a poor family and believe your life is one of being poor, you will live into that self-proclaimed prophecy of living a poor life. And, I don’t just mean monetarily. We fulfill our own prophecies of being poor in health, physical appearance, qualify (and quantity) of relationships, etc..

And, grief is the one thing we can rightfully blame. There is a lot of loss represented by the loss of hopes, dreams, and expectations, and anything we wish would’ve been (or could be) different, better, or more. Add in and end of, or change, in familiar patterns of behavior and, that’s grief, too!

Grief makes us feel like we don’t have a choice. But, we do.

So this week, I looked at my sadness, wrote about it, listened to some inspiring podcasts, and realized something…

the compassion I so readily give to others, I needed to give to myself. 

And, after asking myself what would I say to a friend, I decided to take the day to do some things that bring me joy or lift my mood. I went on the treadmill, while listening to an inspiring podcast episode, took an extra-long shower, enjoyed a cup of tea and looked out the window (just BE-ing present), played with my pooch, Gizmo, and made a heartfelt, end of the first quarter donation, to the Fisher House for ND veterans and their families. My dad, a Vietnam vet, received his healthcare at the Fargo, ND VA Hospital after his colon cancer diagnosis. We could not be there as a family, as a place like the Fisher House did not exist. I’m so glad to see there will be a place for a family to be together.

What is the one question to ask yourself when you’re suffering? 

What would I say to my friend?

More often than not, the helpers of this world have the hardest time giving to themselves what is given to others so readily – compassion.

Give yourself compassion; speak to and treat yourself kindly.

As an empathic, compassionate person (compassion is also one of my top ten values), I need to remain mindful of when the compassion scale is tipping too heavily in one direction. This is so often why those in the helper, service-based roles (therapists, doctors, nurses, counselors, healers, etc.) often burnout. We want to serve and help, but the person we often forget to serve first is ourselves. There is a reason why, during my grief recovery training, there is specific education around what is known as “compassion fatigue.”

March was my lesson in compassion fatigue. I really had to assess my schedule and look at where I needed to step on the breaks. So, I created more breathing room at the end of March, and then the death-versary came, and so did fatigue out of seemingly nowhere. The body is always speaking to us, my friend.

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for a new month, a new quarter, and I’m looking forward to implementing some of the things the first quarter taught me this year. I’m also looking forward to sharing what I learned about end-of-life and through YouMap®.

I will be incorporating YouMap® into my grief recovery one-on-one program. This will entail an increase in pricing to reflect additional sessions and knowledge/information that will be added, however, it will only make the grief recovery experience that much richer. You will know why you’re grieving the way you grieve, recognize trouble areas, and gain a greater understanding of how others in the same household are grieving differently (which doesn’t make them wrong). Knowing your YouMap® will also help you to see exactly where your pain points are, and together, we’ll work toward a solution after grief recovery in an additional session. It’s one thing to receive an assessment of your strengths, values, skills, and how you’re wired, but what I love most is, you learn what to do with the information; something every other assessment out there doesn’t address. And believe, me, I’ve taken a lot of them.

I’d like to close with a journal entry from this week:

If we’re traumatized in childhood, we grow to be traumatized (reactive) adults who often become people-pleasers. We become adults who lack self-confidence, self-worth, and inner-peace.

The past two years have been learning how to navigate these things and find inner-peace about what cannot be changed. And rather, bless the past, and continue to evolve and grow – use it for good in my life. Because, the only constant is change.

I want to share with others what I’ve learned and walk with them in their suffering. However, always with the intention of lighting the path forward when all feels lost. Taking the last bit of hope that a hurting heart has been white-knuckling and using it to UNLEASH their heart of the darkness of their pain and into the light of what’s possible.

And, to never forget – when you unleash your heart, you unleash your life. 

much love, victoria

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