1. Tell us about you, your name, where you are from, your family, etc:
Kim Fredrickson, Marriage and Family Therapist
Married to Dave, pastor and seminary professor for 39 years. 2 adult children. Son is married and lives 3 hours away, and daughter lives locally. I live in northern California but grew up in southern California.
2. How has God uniquely made you/gifted you?
To be compassionate, pragmatic, loving and practical. He’s given me an extra ability to adjust to really tough circumstances, and an extra measure of faith. He’s given me what I need, for which I am so grateful.
3. Tell us about your ministry, page, business, etc?
Professionally, I’ve been a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist for 31 years, and a seminary professor teaching masters level counseling students for 15 years. I closed my private practice 2 years ago because of my health, which is a huge loss to me. I am blessed to be an author, Give Yourself a Break: Turning Your Critic into a Compassionate Friend, 2 years ago, and Give Your Kids a Break: Parenting with Compassion for You and Your Children (Oct 2017). I write a weekly blog about being compassionate with ourselves throughout the ups and downs of life. I also write a weekly column for Pulmonary Fibrosis News, that is read by thousands of people all over the world. It is a chance to write about what it is like to deal with PF as a patient, and encourage patients to be compassionate with themselves as we go through this difficult journey.
4. What inspired you to start?
I was prompted to study counseling in high school because I had a heart for friends of mine who were struggling. I got my bachelors and masters degrees and opened up a private practice 31 years ago.
My interest in self-compassion developed as I studied this topic, and taught my clients to be kind and compassionate with themselves, while also facing their shortcomings.
As a counselor, I saw first-hand how hard people were on themselves when they failed, made mistakes, made poor decisions, or couldn’t foresee the future. What they needed was a concrete way to develop a kind and compassionate relationship with themselves. They needed to learn ways to care for and relate to themselves the way God does…with love, grace, and truth.
I worked with my clients to be compassionate with themselves as they worked through things in their lives. Over time they grew emotionally, spiritually and relationally. They began to understand themselves, care for themselves, and talk to themselves as they would a good friend who was struggling. This began a life-changing process of turning their inner critic into a compassionate friend.
Definition of self-compassion - Self-compassion is a balance of truth (Yes, I made a mistake) with grace (I have worth and value, and I will address my mistakes directly). Self-compassion involves approaching you with a stance of grace and truth.
Grace shows compassion toward yourself with kindness and gentleness.
Truth is acknowledging the truth of the situation but without shame. Grace and truth together mean you acknowledge what happened without either minimizing it or making it more than it was and at the same time apply compassion to yourself.
God kept nudging me to “write it down” in a book. I didn’t want to. I was a busy counselor and had the privilege of teaching future master’s students to become therapists. I loved what I was doing, I didn’t want to do the hard work to write a book. He kept bugging me, I finally said yes, under duress. I knew how much others needed to learn how to be compassionate with themselves. I also knew how important it was to integrate self-compassion with our faith. There was nothing written about self-compassion integrated with our faith.
He nudged me to write Give Yourself a Break before I became seriously ill. He prodded me to go to my one and only writers conference where I met an editor who offered me a contract to write this book. This was four months before being diagnosed with breast cancer and one year before being diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis.
I wrote Give Your Kids a Break as a gift to my adult children. After being diagnosed with a terminal illness, I decided to write this book as a way to have a positive influence on the lives of my adult children and their future grandchildren. I wanted to help them with the challenges of parenting when the time came. I knew I wouldn’t be around to hold my grandbabies and help my children raise them in person. Originally it was only going to be for them. As I wrote, I thought others might benefit as well, so decided to self-publish it.
I am so grateful to Him for giving me a new purpose and a way to contribute to others in a meaningful way from the comfort of my recliner. This is very important to me and has made all the losses a little easier to handle.
What keeps you going?
My life has changed and gotten smaller because of this illness, so I focus on what I am still able to do…which is a lot.
I’m grateful to encourage parents to be compassionate with themselves and help their children learn to be kind to themselves too.
I am also grateful to God for expanding my ministry to fellow patients, who really need it…those who are facing a terminal illness. I have a huge influence on a lot of people all over the world through my weekly column, for which I am grateful. It gives what I’m going through more meaning and purpose.
I am very aware that my lungs are dying, so this tinges everything. It affects what I spend time on, what is worth my worries, what matters, etc.
On my family: creating meaningful memories, for my family; the parenting book I left for my children and some other things. Taking care of business at home so I don’t leave my husband a mess
On ministry: God gives me my blog, PF column, a possible third book for those with a terminal illness and their families.
Time with Family and Friends
I don’t do things that take too much energy or wears me out too much.
5. What are your greatest struggles in what you do?
My health story 4 years ago, I was diagnosed with breast cancer…the fast-growing kind that only 10% of people get. After 9 months of treatment, lumpectomy, chemo, and radiation I was done and excited to get on with my life. The treatment was grueling and much harder than I thought it would be. 4 days after I finished treatment I noticed I was having trouble taking a full breath. I went straight to the doctor, and after 2 months of tests it was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis, a lung disease, as a very rare side effect from the chemo and radiation – this only happens to 1 – 2% of people. I would like to say that I do not like being special! This is a terminal illness with a life expectancy of 3-5 years, and I’ve had it for 3 1/2 years. Really hard. I use supplemental oxygen 24/7, and as I worsen I need more and more, and it gets harder and harder to leave home because I get so tired.
6. What is one thing you have learned from what you do?
Self-compassion (S-C) has helped me so much to get through these tough times. When I was diagnosed with cancer, and then PF, I decided to be a good friend to myself. S-C helps me be kind and caring to myself in the ways I talk to myself, take care of myself, encourage myself, and accept the volumes of prayer and support my friends and family offer. I am committed to not turn on myself or abandon myself during these difficult times.
S-C has also helped me to be resilient as well as process all the emotions, which are ongoing and layered. Being able to grieve well while treating myself with compassion helps so much. I think when we can embrace and accept our own failures and humanity, we can have a greater compassion for others. We can also love others better.
7. What is your greatest passion for the Kingdom of God? To be deeply connected to God, and people loving to themselves and others.
8. What could you talk for hours about? How I’ve seen God provide for me in SO MANY ways, through the love and encouragement of others. He has given me a lot to carry and has provided what I need.
9. What has God been teaching you lately? To only focus and spend time on what has eternal meaning and value. To rely on Him for everything.
10. What do you think is the greatest struggle facing Christian women today? Looking outward to others for self-worth, meaning, and direction. Part of this comes because we are not our own friend and advocate, so we have to look outward to get what we need. We are so hard on ourselves! We are used to showing compassion to others, but often have trouble showing that same compassion to ourselves. We often say things to ourselves we would never say to a friend. We can be hard on ourselves, judging ourselves for our failures. This can have a devastating effect on our lives.
Some of us were never taught that mistakes are normal and should be handled with grace toward ourselves. The reality is that every part of life is a learning curve. It is that way from the moment we enter the world until the day we die.
Most of us learned to handle our mistakes, sins, and mess-ups by doubling down…by trying harder…by being hard on ourselves as a motivator to not mess up again! Sometimes we try to deal with our shortcomings by denying they are even there.
These strategies don’t work long term. No one achieves long-lasting growth by being hard on themselves. We might see some short-term success, but in the end, our inner critic takes over…holding us to standards we would never apply to others. We do this because we simply don’t know what else to do.
The good news is we can learn to love ourselves as God does and pass this blessing onto our children.
Kim Fredrickson is a licensed marriage and family therapist of thirty-plus years. She loves to teach others about the power of self-compassion from a faith perspective. She is the author of Give Yourself a Break: Turning Your Inner Critic into a Compassionate Friend and Give Your Kids a Break: Parenting with Compassion for You and Your Children. She recently retired from her counseling practice when diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis, a terminal lung disease that developed as a rare complication from the chemotherapy and radiation she received for breast cancer.
After being diagnosed with a terminal illness, she decided to write this book as a way to have a positive influence on the lives of her adult children and their future grandchildren. Kim wanted to help them with the challenges of parenting when the time came. She knew she wouldn’t be around to hold her grandbabies and help her children raise them in person. Originally it was only going to be for them. As Kim wrote, she thought others might benefit as well, so decided to self-publish it.
Kim has been married to her husband, Dave for thirty-nine years and they have two grown children. Learn more and read her blog at www.kimfredrickson.comShe also writes a weekly patient column for Pulmonary Fibrosis News, Just Breathe…Compassionate Help for the PF Journey. Thousands of patients and their loved ones read her column all over the world. Follow her on Instagram and Facebook.