Self compassion is a phrase we’re hearing a lot about lately. And it is something that I think we can all (myself included) use more of.
Our Registered Psychologist (Provisional) Lana McAleer tell us about Compassion Focused Therapy. It can help us to develop and strengthen our self compassion.
CFT and Self-Compassion
We all have different ways that we cope with and regulate (handle) our emotions.
Within therapy there are many different theories about emotion regulation, with one of these approaches being compassion-focused therapy.
In compassion focused therapy, it is proposed that we have 3 different types of emotion regulation systems that have developed over time.
The 3 different types are:
1. Threat and Protection system
The threat and protection system was developed to help keep humans safe from predators in their environment. Within this system there are many defenses to help keep us safe, including the fight-flight-freeze reaction, emotions like anxiety, anger, disgust, and thought patterns like ‘better safe than sorry’ or ‘jumping to conclusions’. A person’s genes and the environment they grew up in will impact how strong or weak this system is.
2. Drive and Excitement system
The drive and excitement system motivates and directs us to rewards and resources, such as food, shelter, sexual opportunities, among others. So, this system uses positive feelings, such as anticipation and pleasure to motivate us to meet these needs. This system is where desires and goals come from.
3. Contentment, Soothing, and Social Safety system
The third system, contentment, soothing, and social safety system, can become activated when a person is not in danger and has enough resources. When this occurs, a person experiences contentment, a feeling of peacefulness and wellbeing, and is more inclined to be kind and caring towards others.
What can happen sometimes, is that these systems become unbalanced.
When the threat/protection system or the drive/excitement system become over-activated, one may experience increased feelings of shame and self-criticism.
To reduce these and other negative emotions, a person can work to increase their soothing/contentment system, which is done by increasing self-compassion.
You can increase your self-compassion by:
Being empathetic towards yourself
Increasing your ability to deal with distress
Being non-judgmental towards yourself
Caring for one’s own well-being
Remember, give yourself a break! Increasing your self-compassion doesn’t happen overnight.
Thanks, Lana. Self Compassion is a wonderful thing! I think we all need more of it.
If you’re looking for reading material on Self Compassion, Kristen Neff Ph.D has some terrific stuff! She is a clinical researcher and currently an Associate Professor of Educational Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin. Check out Kristen’s website here.
Lana McAleer is a Registered Paychologist (Provisional). She works with Adults, Children and Youth and specializes in the following:
- Panic Attacks
- Mental Health Issues
- Self Esteem
- Self Confidence
- Self Compassion
- Communication Issues
- And many more areas
Cheers to more self compassion!