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Healing Tip of the Day: Our Struggles Don't Define Us

Updated: Dec 19, 2023




We've all faced struggles in life - whether it's recovery from addiction, coping with trauma, or struggling with mental health issues. These difficulties can feel all-consuming, like they're defining who we are. But the truth is, our struggles don't define us - they are simply experiences we've endured. Who we are is so much greater than any single experience or hardship.


When we're a passenger on the struggle bus, it's easy to see ourselves only through that lens. We get caught up in thoughts like "I'm an addict" or "I'm damaged goods" or "I don't deserve..." or "I'm broken." But those labels don't tell the whole story - they're incomplete snapshots that miss out on everything else that makes us who we are. We're more than any one struggle.


The path of recovery invites us to lay down those reproaching labels and instead reapproach ourselves with compassion. Instead of viewing our difficult life experiences as marks of guilt and shame, we can learn to see them simply as parts of a richer journey. A journey that has also included moments of joy, connection, humor, learning and growth. Perspective is perspective.


Shifting our inner dialogue from reproach to reapproach isn't always easy. We have to catch ourselves in those habitual self-criticizing patterns of thought and redirect our mindset. Guided "Heart meditations" are a great place to start focusing on self-forgiveness, compassion, loving-kindness, and equinimity because it can help to soften the sharp edges of reproach. Making a list of people who see our humanity and worth beyond our difficulties. Practicing self-affirmations daily that reframe how we talk to ourself. Journaling about our strengths and qualities beyond the struggle, is a reflecting and clearing practice that helps me maintain a panoramic view instead of looking through my experience through the hole in a straw and saying that's the whole world.


Seeking support from others who have walked similar paths can also aid the process of reapproaching ourself. Hearing their stories of recovery helps remind us that we too have so much more to offer beyond the labels of our past struggles. Connecting with a compassionate community who sees our inherent worth provides external mirrors that de-energize harsh and cruel internal criticism.


Recovery and growth are lifelong processes. They involve continual adjustments as we learn more about ourselves and what supports our well-being. But choosing to reapproach ourselves with compassion sets the foundation for recognizing our deeper humanity beyond labels of struggle. Then we can begin to see our difficulties not as defining attributes but simply as experiences that shape parts of our experience. An story with so many more chapters still unwritten, defined not by suffering or disappointments but by who we truly are at our core - creative, resilient beings worthy of unconditional positive regard.


The struggles we've faced do not have to dictate how we see ourselves going forward. With compassionate self-reflection and community, we can reframe our inner dialogue to reapproach life from a place of wholesomeness, and recognize that our inherent worth remains unchanged by difficulties along the way. Our humanity shines through, as Universal Idenity of Loving-Presence rather than human trash waiting to be disposed of. With goodwill and creative action of the spirit, we could be fully whole and wholly free.


一Dignity and Grace

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