Often when I get really down on myself, I end up finding myself reading a story of someone who has had a much more difficult time in life. Perhaps because they were diagnosed with some devastating disease, or they have suffered through seemingly unbearable loss. These stories always end with the person overcoming their adversity. Not so long ago when I would read these stories I would get down on myself. Self loathing would enter as I wondered why I wasn’t more grateful for my own life. Why was I struggling when what I was dealing with couldn’t even compare to what others are going through. Think that brought about gratitude? Yeah, no. Talk about self defeating.
What it took me time to understand is that these stories are meant to inspire us to be better people. Not to think poorly of ourselves. I mean, I guess I always understood that, but I was too deep in my own story to allow inspiration to take hold. Guilt, fear, shame, they had a deep hold on me. When I finally took the time to say, “They may be going through a tough time that appears tougher than mine but that doesn’t change the way I feel about mine” it allowed me the space I needed to be compassionate with myself. This is necessary in order to get out of your own way. Once I allowed myself to grieve my story, I was capable of change. I was ready to move on. Now mind you, this is a very slippery slope and one that needs to be navigated with caution. Compassion can all too easily slip in to pity and playing the victim. (Trust me, I know that one too!)
Outside of my own story I could hear those inspirational stories as they were meant to be heard. Wow, if they can overcome that adversity, then I can surely overcome mine. And, I would. Every time. Now I think, how courageous they are. How courageous I am. This. This is how we change the world.