• Stephanie

It's not you; it's them.

We are awfully, awfully harsh on ourselves. To be critical of our personality, characteristics, appearance, needs and wants seems to be a bit of a competition in our society, lest we come across as self-indulgent and absorbed in our own importance.

Self-compassion seems unbearably difficult at times, especially when something horrible is happening to us, around us, involving us, defining us. We get frustrated at our perceived weakness, our inability to cope, our bad sleep and traumatic nightmares, our lack of motivation to enjoy anything or not knowing how to enact change.

I can't tell you how many stories I've heard where they start like this. Clients are immediately berating themselves, taking the side of the critic and tearing themselves apart limb from limb. And when I ask them to talk me through what they're not coping with, what's making them feel alone, what's hurting - as an external participant, I hear that they're actually experiencing an absolute shitshow, and their response to the situation feels very fair.

A few years ago, I had an HR department contact me to refer one of their employees for 6 sessions of therapy. "Work place stress", which quite frankly, rings alarm bells for me every time I hear it because usually the thing that causes the stress is the total inhumane approach of the company to care for its staff in terms of work/life balance, fair pay, fair holiday, appreciation and opportunities for progression. Without that, then I'm afraid you're not working for a company; you're being exploited by a capitalist scheme that doesn't care about you, and who will easily replace you if you left. And it just isn't your fault you feel like shit.

I've felt the same about client's other halves, best friends, or family members. If they are disturbing your peace to the point where you're not able concentrate on your own mental health, your own path, your own decisions, and you are feeling weighed down and responsible for how they respond to you living your life then it is not you; it's them. Life can be unbearably difficult, and your partner/best friend/parent shouldn't be making it harder for you. That's not to say the inner lives of our relationships won't or shouldn't have muddy waters at times, but if it's a repetitive thorn in your side whilst you try your hardest to get through the day, then I don't think we're in mental health territory anymore - we're in a toxic relationship territory. And you deserve a gentle life in your relationships, where the significant other is doing their own work, owning their own trauma and patterns, sifting through their own boundaries, and giving you some gorgeous space to grow the way you need to.

Don't settle. You are not difficult.

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