Last night in class, I volunteered to play the part of one of two clients in our role-play exercise. It didn’t take long for me to have that “oh shit” feeling. I couldn’t believe what I got myself into. I thought I would be able to keep from going deep into my emotions. Even though I could have gone much deeper I was pretty terrified at the level of emotion I was exposing myself and my fellow classmates to.
When all was said and done, I began to notice how my fellow student in the second client role, was able to speak from a place of compassion towards someone else. Everything I said was from a place of how much I was hurting. I felt like such a selfish ass.
There’s a logical part of me that knows that there was once a time where I was able to feel more compassion towards others. However, I feel like I’ve been struggling for so long that I’m now in a place where it’s a matter of my own survival. I feel like I’m in a desperate place of making sure that I’m okay. I understand that this is the natural path that leads to resentment. The compassionate part of me says “This is where you are in the process. It’s okay.” The critical part of me says “See! You ARE a selfish ass!” Right now, I am struggling with these two messages.
In experiencing this I also thought of several clients that I have. They have been telling me their problem saturated stories of how hurt they are. It’s been a challenge for them to feel compassion towards people in their lives, especially those who trigger their pain. I began to wonder if they too experienced enough pain to be pushed past being able to be compassionate towards others. Have they landed in resentment-ville too?
This exercise has not only challenged me to unlearn this particular self-critical part of me, it has also helped me to understand my clients better. When I hear them deep in their hurt, I think I can now inquire if it’s speaking to how hurt they actually are, or something else like narcissism (with narcissism having its own type of pain history).
Sometimes, you just don’t know where they lessons will come from.