From Self-Loathing to Self-Compassion…Top 5 Tips to Healing from the Past

Twelve years ago I was in Tucson, Arizona as a patient at a holistic eating disorder treatment center called Mirasol. I had hit rock bottom and was in the throes of self-loathing, addiction, and numbness. 

Recently I returned to Tucson, Arizona and it was for a different reason…to lead UNBRIDLED, a holistic healing retreat at White Stallion Ranch, not far from Mirasol.

It was a full circle experience. What made the Tucson trip even more symbolic was visiting Marla Kuhn of Blue Horse Medicine.

Marla was my equine therapist at Mirasol and she and her horse Jack, turned my world right side up when I experienced equine therapy for the first time. To read the full story, CLICK HERE.

Mirasol was the start of my healing journey which led me down the trail of where I am today.

I have learned a lot in the past twelve years and here are the top 5 lessons that changed my life…

1. The only way out is through.

Take it from a pro, I tried every escape and numbing technique in the book to avoid feeling pain, including moving across the world to New Zealand. Problem is, wherever we go, we take ourselves.

I stuffed down and purged away my feelings through food and did whatever I could to numb out my self-loathing. It wasn’t until I faced my inner demons head on in a safe, supportive and therapeutic environment, that I was able to release fears and tears that had been bottled up most of my life.

It’s not our pain that ultimately harms up, it’s suppressing it that does.

“The wound is the place where the light enters you.” ~ Rumi

2. The most important journey of your lifetime, is the journey within.

Before Mirasol, I had never heard of self-discovery or emotional healing. At first, I’ll admit, I was skeptical. Sharing feelings and talking about emotions seemed flaky and was what I perceived as “weak”, which I’d do ANYTHING to avoid.

It wasn’t until I experienced equine therapy, acupuncture, yoga, reiki, inner child work and family therapy, that I got it. Getting to know myself on a whole new level was life changing and it gave me insight to WHY I struggled with certain things. I developed self-compassion and my hard edges began to soften.

The better relationship you have with yourself, the better relationship you will have with others and the world around you.

“You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover is yourself.” ~ Alan Alda

3. Forgiveness is the name of the game

My bottled up emotions were closely tied to not being able to forgive myself and others for events of the past. It was a constant tug of war between blaming myself and other people.

Through the self-discovery process and practicing self-compassion, I was slowly able to ease up on the hold of resentment and regret. The more I practiced forgiveness and letting go, the more inner peace I felt.

When you can forgive yourself and others, you are free.

“Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future.” ~ Paul Boese

 4. You are not alone in your struggles

For years I felt desperately alone in my struggles. I thought something was wrong with me and I was convinced everyone else “had it together”.

It wasn’t until Mirasol, that I had ever sat in a group of women who openly shared their struggles. It was mind-blowing to witness such vulnerability and to realize that I was not alone. Through hearing other people’s stories and by speaking up in the group, my shame began to vaporize.

We are not alone in our struggle and it’s important to find non-judgmental environments where we feel safe to share ALL of who we are.

“If we can share our story with someone who responds with empathy and understanding, shame can’t survive.” Brene Brown

5. Connect to something outside yourself which fuels you

My world was very small when it was only about me, myself and I. I felt little connection to the outside world when I was stuck in my head all day. When I began to connect to things that fueled my spirit, my soul came alive.

My connection touchstones are spirituality, nature, horses, and being of service. When I’m engaged with any of these things (or all together at once, my holy grail), I feel energized and connected to the world at large. For you, it could be family, sports, music, faith, volunteering, creativity or a combination of many things.

Connecting to something outside of yourself which fuels you, expands your world and gives you meaning and purpose.

“We lose ourselves in the things we love. We find ourselves there too.” ~ Kristin Martz

So there it is…a girl who once hated herself and shunned her feelings is now a woman partnering with horses to lead others down the trail of self-discovery.

From the holistic treatment center to leading a holistic retreat, it has been a full circle experience. Twelve years ago I never would have imagined where I’d be today. And most importantly, who I’d become.

You can’t always see where the trail leads and that’s why it’s called a journey. A journey of discovering who you are and why you are here. 

No matter where you are, trust that it is for a reason. Our greatest gifts often come from our greatest struggles.

The horse-crazy, holistic healing cowgirl,

Devon

8 replies
  1. Linda
    Linda says:

    Dear Devon, I have watched your video on the Mirasol site several times and have just read so much about your journey and about Beyond the Arena. You are an inspiration. My daughter is at Mirasol right now, she arrived a little over a week ago. Your stories have given me so much hope that my daughter can recover and really live and love her life. I searched for quite some time to find a place like Mirasol, i knew it was special. Thank you for sharing your special gifts with the world. Linda

    Reply
    • admin
      admin says:

      Dear Linda, Thank you so much for your note and for reaching out. I appreciate your kind words and I’m glad you tracked me down via the Mirasol website. Mirasol, hands down AND hooves down saved my life and opened my world up to a whole new way of living.

      I hope with all my heart that your daughter has that similar experience in her recovery and she is at the right place. I’m sending love and light to your daughter and your entire family. Full recovery IS possible and Mirasol was the key to opening that door for me. Please let me know if there’s ever anything I can do. Love, Devon

      Reply
  2. Delora
    Delora says:

    as always so proud of you and also happy for you, you’ve worked so hard and now you are helping others! You rock! Love you at whatever point you are in your journey!

    Reply
  3. Kris
    Kris says:

    Devon, I can so relate to the 5 tips for healing from the past!

    I too spent 37 years drowning in addiction, numbing myself to feelings and the world! At the age of 61, looking at the world through sober eyes for almost 14 years now is a thing called grace.

    I found my support group the first year of my sobriety but as the years passed, it was pointed out to me that I needed professional help. After the third person suggested I get “help”, I finally surrendered. Not ever seeking the services of a therapist, I was able to resolve some of my past issues regarding my family of origin.

    One of my addictions is trying to fill the hole in my soul with material possessions and it has never worked!! So when I was shopping out of boredom last fall, I came across a flier about a women’s retreat in Arizona. The line that caught my eye was “if you are stuck and need help turning the corner”, not verbatim but close enough, I was intrigued. I have been feeling stuck since my 30 year relationship ended with my best friend.

    When I arrived at the White Stallion Ranch, I was in heaven. I have traded in my beach vacations for the desert. I have not felt such freedom, such release of emotions in a very long time. Being able to connect with other women, a horse and you, Devon is such a blessing. I felt renewed and unstuck when I returned home from the retreat.

    I know I still have a journey within ahead of me, but I also know where to go to get unstuck.

    Thank you again Devon!

    Reply
    • Devon
      Devon says:

      Kris, I’m deeply touched by your story and what you wrote. Thank you for courageously sharing your story and being willing to take steps to get unstuck and heal from the past. I’m so glad you saw the flyer that day and took the risk of experiencing a new way of healing….that is through horses. Your self-awareness is profound and I LOVE that you have discovered grace through sobriety…you are inspiring. The horses and I can’t wait to see you again soon and the UNBRIDLED Reunion is going to be a blast! Thank you for being you. XO

      Reply
  4. Michelle
    Michelle says:

    Thats the thing with the mind, you can’t escape it but you can control it!
    Wonderful blog Devon. You are an inspiration!

    Reply
    • Devon
      Devon says:

      Michelle, so true…we can’t escape it but we can manage it. Thank you for reading and I hope our trails cross sometime soon. I miss you!

      Reply

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