When we feel tired, worn down, or otherwise weakened, it is very easy to take life personally. You know those feelings that haunt you, and have the potential to leave you feeling confused and sad for days? It could be as simple as someone forgetting to call, or an invitation that was not extended to you but was to others you know. The truth is that no matter what the event, the hurt of taking life personally stings and leaves you feeling unloved.
These feelings were some of the first that motivated me to move ahead in my recovery from trauma. I just couldn’t bear how fragile taking life personally made me feel most of the time. There was this ever-present feeling of loss, which was my Achilles’ heel as a child abandonment survivor. Every time a friend or acquaintance did something that I perceived as a social slight or missed opportunity to support me, it broke my heart.
It took me some time to realize that things just were not as personal as I was making them out to be. People had lives that took them away from my personal priorities, and I woke up to the fact that the world did not revolve around me.
I started to understand that what I really needed to do was learn how to depend on myself for the attention and companionship I was seeking from others. I took my attention inward to discover my needs. I started asking questions of myself, like:
- What would make me happy today?
- How am I feeling, and how can I support the way I feel?
- Which activity will make me feel secure and engaged today?
It was these types of questions that started to make me feel loved and cared for, and I didn’t have to look outside of myself to find them. This was a revolutionary understanding for me. The other magnificent thing that happened was that I started to feel happier overall. I was not as critical or judgmental of others. When a plan with a friend fell through, I understood: it was not a personal matter at all, it was just their day unfolding in a different direction than mine.
Being free of the distress of taking life so personally was a huge relief for me. I know that it was Step #1 in my healing. My perspective broadened, and my ability to be free of the burden of these fears lifted a heaviness from my life. And the other spectacular awareness was that the more I practiced compassion and understanding, the better I got at it. With these positive feelings in place, my relationships flourished, free from the weight of expectation and assumptions.
It’s occurred to me that my mind’s eye is only as clear as my heart’s intention to live free from pain.