At the recommendation of a few colleagues, I just finished reading “Maybe You Should Talk to Someone” by Lori Gottlieb. I love reading, and the chance to delve into a book that balances therapy-land and daily-life is a special treat. I’ve basically recommended this book to over 75% of the people I know, and now I’m recommending it to you!
This book weaves together several key themes as it follows the author (a therapist) in her journey through her own therapy to integrate losses and life changes, her work with clients, and the wisdom gained through both. And, though it takes places in Los Angeles, which may seem like an entirely different world from our lovely Pacific Northwest and smaller-town Gresham and Troutdale, the wisdom it offers transfers to many locales.
A key theme that I noticed woven throughout this book is self-compassion – its role and value, its benefits, and how difficult it often is to create space for self-compassion in our lives.
In all of my work, I have yet to meet a person entirely void of regret, shame, or guilt over some part of their story. Whether it is because of relationships lost, opportunities that passed, investments they didn’t make, transitions they wish had gone differently… the experience is the same.
Shame, guilt, and regret can become paralyzing – keeping us stuck in old patterns, even as we long for freedom.
And, most often, what I find is that these patterns exist because of whatever belief gives the pattern meaning:
“I lost my best friend, because I wasn’t compassionate enough. I’m self-centered.”
“I should have worked harder in school. I’m a bad student, and I’m lazy.”
“I wish I had invested more energy into yoga. I could have been a great teacher, but I quit. I never finish anything.”
“I made this move across the country, and it’s hard. It’s really hard. I’m going to move home, and that means I’m a failure.”
These beliefs become self-perpetuating, because they influence our future interactions with ourselves, those around us, and the world. But Gottlieb reminds us “There is a difference between self-blame and self-responsibility” (p.112). It is possible for you to pursue self-compassion, to acknowledge the reality of your humanity, and leave behind judgments about whether you are good or bad, whether you are truly deserving of forgiveness.
It is possible to find self-compassion and forgive your past self for what they did or did not do.
If you immediately thought, “But I could never forgive myself.” I hear you. It feels daunting to release ourselves from the weight of our past – whether our past is burdened with actions we wish to change, or inaction during moments we long to have acted.
And to that, Gottlieb might ask, “How long do you think the sentence for these crimes should be?” She wonders, how long do we all deserve to have the crimes of the past mar our present and our future.
How long will you remain in your own jail, punishing yourself with self-berating thoughts, perpetuating patterns that keep you stuck and overwhelmed with shame, telling yourself that “I deserve this. I deserve to be punished”?
And then it follows: If you are your own jailer, when will you decide to release yourself?
And only you can answer that question.
If you are ready to begin the harder work of forgiving yourself, or maybe even continue a journey that you’ve already begun, we would love to partner with you!
C.H.E.R.I.I.S.H. Counseling’s founders and therapists have a deep commitment to supporting you in pursuing healing and wholeness – to enrich your relationships with others and to find harmony with yourself.
We know that, regardless of how successful or lovely your life is from the outside, the only thing that really makes a difference is how things are going on the inside – the way you talk to and about yourself, the ways you care for yourself, the compassion you hold for yourself. Because, it’s from this place of connection with your wise inner-self that you can overflow kindness, goodness, and love to those around you.
We would be honored to partner with you, and you can easily schedule your initial phone consultation here.
ALSO – If you’d like to grab a copy of Gottlieb’s book for yourself, you can check it out at your local library or find it at Powell’s Books here: Lisa Gottlieb: Maybe You Should Talk to Someone (Note: This is NOT an affiliate link, and neither C.H.E.R.I.I.S.H. Counseling nor its members receive any financial benefit from its use).