Practice Self-Compassion in PTSD Recovery
I've learned about the benefits of practicing self-compassion in PTSD recovery. In my last post I talked a little bit about using self-compassion as one way of dealing with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and the shame that is associated with trauma. In this post, I want to dig deeper into how to be kind to ourselves and cultivate a practice of self-compassion to alleviate some of the symptoms of PTSD. Being kind to myself is something that I know I need to do more of, but it isn't something that comes naturally to me, and I suspect that is true for many trauma survivors. When I am able to practice self-compassion in PTSD recovery, I find that dealing with PTSD symptoms is easier and my negative self-talk and feelings are lessened.
What is Self-Compassion? Why Practice It in PTSD Recovery?
Self-compassion is simply being kind to one's self when feelings of shame, inadequacy, or
failure come up. It's thinking about and treating one's self the way that we would treat a close friend or family member who is struggling with self-doubt, negative emotions, or feelings of unworthiness. Self-compassion is a way to combat the self-judgement and criticism that come up so often when we are faced with dealing with PTSD triggers and symptoms. It's the path to greater wellbeing, decreased anxiety and depression, and
better coping skills (Making Mental Health a Habit).
Conversely, when we lack self-compassion it can lead to increased feelings of guilt, shame, unworthiness, and hopelessness. All of these things can cause self-destructive behavior and lack of motivation to continue with PTSD recovery.
Ways to Practice Self-Compassion in PTSD Recovery
There are some specific strategies that can help increase self-compassion. It may be difficult to do some of these at first (it was for me), but practicing these few things can help in dealing with PTSD and all that comes with it. Ideally, using these strategies will become a habit, and they will become positive coping skills in your PTSD recovery.
- Remember that you are human. Sometimes in PTSD recovery we set expectations for ourselves that aren't realistic. We have to remember that we are human, that setbacks are a normal part of recovery, and that we can learn from them. We have to meet obstacles that we face with compassion and not judgement and condemnation.
- Be mindful of what you're thinking about yourself. The thoughts that we have about ourselves aren't always true. When negative thoughts come up, being mindful of what they are but not engaging in them is an act of self-compassion that will help decrease their power over us.
- Take care of yourself. Practicing self-care is a way that we show compassion toward ourselves. That means getting enough rest, eating healthy foods, and doing nice things for ourselves (You Can Practice Self-Care on a Budget).
- Practice acts of kindness toward others. Sometimes it's hard to be kind to ourselves. When it is, we can turn our kindness toward others. Helping someone who is struggling is a way to extend compassion, and that simple act can make it easier to offer ourselves the same.
- Celebrate your accomplishments, just as you would for someone else. Dealing with PTSD symptoms is challenging, so recognizing the times that you successfully navigate triggers and difficult situations is an essential way to practice self-compassion. Give yourself credit for the things you do well.
The main thing to remember about compassion is that we need to extend it to ourselves just as we extend it to others. We are worth practicing self-compassion in PTSD recovery.
DeLoe, J. (2016, May 5). Practice Self-Compassion in PTSD Recovery, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, November 30 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/traumaptsdblog/2016/05/ptsd-recovery-practicing-self-compassion-to-deal-with-ptsd