When you see people doing great things for others, you can get inspired by their compassion. You might see people pull over to assist someone with car trouble. Maybe you see someone helping a tourist find their way around town. Compassion shows itself in small acts that can go a long way.
Kids in treatment might go out of their way to help one another. Other parents might reach out to you to say, “I’ve been there before with my kid.” The recovery community is structured in compassion for one another.
What Is Compassion?
Compassion is similar to empathy. You get into someone else’s shoes, maybe not understanding the exact experience, but you empathize with the emotions. To express compassion, you do not necessarily need to share the experiences. Instead, it’s the shared emotions that drive empathy.
For example, you might see a parent struggle with a child who has a physical disability. Sometimes, you might feel alienated from the experience. How can you help or even feel bad about your situation when another person’s life is probably much harder?
Everyone Struggles With Something
But everyone struggles with something. Your struggle is relative to your own experiences, which are often outside of your control. You might have a teen who struggles with substance abuse. Another person has a child in and out of the hospital for severe psychiatric issues, like psychosis or suicidal ideations.
Compassion means that you get the emotion. You aren’t comparing your struggle to others or invalidating your own because someone appears to “have it much worse.” Instead, you express genuine empathy, not from a place of feeling sorry for another, but from a place of connection and understanding.
Inspiring Others to Do Great Things
When you help others, you can inspire them to do great things as well. Maybe another family of a teen who struggles is new to recovery. They might feel overwhelmed and unsure of themselves. They might struggle with thoughts like:
- I must be a bad parent
- No one else understands what I’m dealing with
- I have no one to help me
- Other people don’t have things as bad as I do
Do these thoughts sound familiar? You likely struggled with these or currently struggle with them. When your kid has significant issues, like self-harm, drug abuse, anxiety, or others, you might go through the cycle of self-blame and doubt. These feelings are natural and expected. But, you get through them once you see others dealing with the same emotions.
Parents of teens who struggle might deal with the feeling that they are “terminally unique.” The issues in their family are beyond ordinary, and no one else will understand them. You might feel this way about your family.
Other parents might extend their compassion to you and say things like “Hey, I’ve been there before,” or “yeah, my kid stole the car late at night, and the cops greeted us at 1 AM,” or “my kid locks me out of their room, too.” When they lend their support and compassion, you realize that you are not alone.
Building Supportive Communities
Peer support is paramount to recovery and getting your kid back. Compassion is the foundation of peer support. Other people have felt what you have felt. They might have been at the hospital for hours waiting for a psychiatrist to talk to them. The police might have called them in the middle of the night to tell them they arrested their kid. But, strip away the specifics, and what you get is this: other parents have been worried about their kids’ well-being, safety, and future.
The underlying emotion is where you find support. These feelings are where you reach out to others with empathy. Maybe you can’t relate to the experience, but you sure can relate to the emotions! All parents have felt these things at one time or another.
You can start by reaching out to others. Start by asking questions of other parents. You can learn to stop blaming yourself by talking to others who have been there before. Treatment centers like Fire Mountain even offer online support groups on Facebook, like “Parenting Teens That Struggle.” Al-Anon has also been helpful for families of those with addiction and substance abuse issues.
Compassion Builds More Compassion
Many people stay stuck in their negative views of the world around them. They might feel sorry for themselves, feeling that no one else “gets it.” Sometimes, you have to build and practice compassion for yourself before reaching out to others.
Remember that you are not a bad parent. Your family is not hopeless. You might have made mistakes, but everyone does. Self-compassion comes from realizing that you are not alone, and you can find the support you need to get your family back.
Compassion can inspire you to make changes in your life and realize that you can get through. You might feel alone, but when others reach out and empathize with your situation, you might feel more strength in yourself. You might discover something within yourself you never realized was there before. Compassion can bring out the best in all of us and helps us know that we are not alone in our struggles. Peer support is vital to those in treatment and is also helpful for parents and families. Fire Mountain Residential Treatment Center of Estes Park, Colorado, understands the importance of peer support when your child struggles. We offer parenting classes and workshops to help you get the skills and compassion you need. Remember that you are not alone — we’ve got your back! Call us today at (303) 443-3343 to learn more about how we can help you and your child. We’re here to make your family’s fire burn brightest.