Karen's Blogs

Blogs are brief, to-the-point, conversational, and packed with information, strategies, and tips to turn troubled eaters into “normal” eaters and to help you enjoy a happier, healthier life. Sign up by clicking "Subscribe" below and they’ll arrive in your inbox. 

[No unsolicited guest blogs accepted, thank you]

Compassion for Others Doesn’t Mean Mistreatment of You

I hear many clients speak with great compassion of their spouses or partners who mistreat them. They say, “Oh, but he had such a horrible life. I need to show him I love him to make up for what his parents did to him.” Or, insist, “She really suffered and I’m strong and can take whatever she dishes out.” Where is it written that just because someone has suffered that they have the right to hurt us? Nowhere, that’s where.

The problem occurs when compassion only flows one way—outward—when it needs to be bi-directional. We want to feel empathy and kindness towards others, of course, but we also want to feel it equally toward ourselves. How can we feel kindly toward ourselves when we are letting others hurt and take advantage of us? How about feeling as compassionate to ourselves as we do to others?

Perhaps we got confused about compassion in childhood. If we had parents who were unkind and mistreated us blatantly or subtly, yet were also deserving of compassion, our hearts went out to them. To Mom who got hit by Dad or Dad who got nothing but disparagement from Mom. To our brother who was blamed for everything bad that happened in the family or to our sister who was in and out of hospitals all her childhood and never got to do the things that normal children do.

In the case of parents, our thinking developed something like this. Bad things will happen to me if I don’t feel compassionate and take care of them, but nothing bad will happen if I don’t feel compassionate towards myself. This was probably true. It was adaptive to feel kindly disposed to parents we depended on physically and emotionally. And so we developed the pattern of extending empathy to others and ignoring our needs for self-compassion.

Now, as adults, it’s time to do a 180 in our thinking. We need to realize that nothing bad will happen to us if we don’t take care of someone else’s feelings, but that bad things are sure to happen if we don’t offer ourselves compassion. What are those bad things? When we take abuse or neglect, it hurts and we eat mindlessly. And then we eat more because we are upset that we ate mindlessly.

It’s necessary to separate feeling compassion for others from not allowing them to treat you poorly. Your putting up with bad behavior only makes you the one to suffer. A better shot at a positive relationship with food won’t happen til you reduce stress and suffering.

Why Diet Soda Is Unhealthy for You
Using Successive Approximation to Become a “Normal...

By accepting you will be accessing a service provided by a third-party external to https://www.karenrkoenig.com/

This website is owned and operated by Karen R. Koenig, M.Ed., LCSW. It contains material intended for informational and educational purposes only, and reasonable effort is made to keep its contents updated. Any material contained herein is not to be construed as the practice of clinical social work or of psychotherapy, although adherence to applicable Florida States, Rules, and Code of Ethics is observed. Material on this website is not intended as a substitute for medical or psychological advice, diagnosis, or treatment for mental health issues or eating disorder problems, which should be done only through individualized therapeutic consultation. Karen R. Koenig, LCSW disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the use of any information contained on this website. This website contains links to other sites. The inclusion of such links does not necessarily constitute endorsement by Karen R. Koenig, LCSW who disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the use of any information contained in this website. Further, Karen R. Koenig, LCSW, does not and cannot guarantee the accuracy or current usefulness of the material contained in the linked sites. Users of any website must be aware of the limitation to confidentiality and privacy, and website usage does not carry any guarantee or privacy of any information contained therein.