You can choose to not fire the second arrow
“The Buddha once asked a student, “If a person is struck by an arrow, is it painful?” The student replied , “It is.” The Buddha then asked, “If the person is struck by a second arrow, is that even more painful?” The student replied again, “It is.” The Buddha then explained, “In life, we cannot always control the first arrow. However, the second arrow is our reaction to the first. And with this second arrow comes the possibility of choice.”
I heard this on a podcast earlier and it really stuck with me.
The horrible thing that has happened which has made you feel bad is the first arrow. The second arrow is the way we then turn this triggering event on to ourselves, feeling it’s something wrong with us that has caused this pain.
First step is awareness, noticing the flight of the second arrow before it hits. This takes practice, the counselling space is where I’ve seen this practice develop among clients.
“I’m doing that self blame thing again aren’t I?”
Remember we’ve been firing second arrows for most of our lives so it takes time to break the habit.
Start with something small and notice when your thoughts go from “this is bad” to “I am bad”. When you notice that you’ve seen that second arrow.
To really stop that second arrow from landing and hurting you, you’ve got to dig deep and give yourself some self compassion. We find this a lot easier when we talk to others like friends/ family. So imagine they are the person with these thoughts and what you would say to them out of compassion?