“I don’t understand why my mom is so awful to me. Even when I try my hardest to stay calm and speak kindly to her, she lashes out.”
I see this often—my clients struggle to comprehend why people have treated them badly, especially in their childhood. They swing between confusion, asking why, and feeling bad about themselves because of what happened.
It’s SO easy to move from “that person doesn’t love me” to “I am unlovable.“
The brain wants things to make sense. To be simple. It is easier to understand “I am wrong” than it is to understand “I am great AND that person does not see it.”
But the simple things our brain wants to believe are often lies.
It’s much harder work to keep holding a “both/and“ understanding. The brain does not want to work. It’s lazy. It wants the simplest path.
But that lazy, simple path HURTS you.
Flexing your brain is hard. Holding complex realities takes work, just like picking up weights.
But pushing your brain to hold paradoxical concepts (e.g. “she didn’t have much love to give AND I am inherently loveable“) is how you start to heal.
Doing the harder work to understand and accept the complexity of people is how you will ultimately get to feeling better.
This is how you train to love yourself, despite a hard world full of suffering.
You can practice right now:
Think about a time when someone didn’t choose you, even when you wanted them to.
Now hold that thought WHILE remembering how truly valuable and worthy you are.
Take a breath. Allow both these things to be true. Hold it for ten seconds, then let it go.
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