Compassion Focused Therapy

Compassion-280Are you hard on yourself? Do you treat yourself poorly? Are you impatient with yourself? Do you require a lot of yourself to the point that you are never happy or satisfied? Are you self-critical? Do you beat yourself up over every single mistake or mishap?

Perhaps you think that being hard on yourself and being self-critical is the best way to achieve your objectives and to finally reach a satisfactory state, which you crave. The bad news is that if you continue on this pathway, you will never reach what you are looking for—self-fulfillment and satisfaction—as it is an endless road. The good news is that you can change the direction and take another pathway, replacing criticism with acceptance, and self-loathing with self-compassion. This might seems awkward for you as you have rigidly learned that only criticizing and beating yourself can work and not loving yourself or being kind, and compassionate toward yourself. However, behavioural science suggest the opposite—the most effective strategy is definitely self-reinforcement rather than self-punishment. Therefore here are some of the benefits of Compassion Focused Therapy.

Benefits of Compassion Focused Therapy

Compassion Focused Therapy is the mean to learn self-compassion. Self-compassion has many effective cognitive and relational benefits in opposition to self-criticism and self-depreciation, which are strongly linked to anxiety, depression, lack of action, and powerlessness. So now you have a clear choice:

  •  Either you continue on the same path, treating yourself as a worthless slave, a productive machine, and as a subhuman, not deserving comfort, love, or kindness.
  • Or you change the path, treating yourself with dignity, love, kindness, and compassion, while requiring of yourself the best that you can but gently and with patience.

Self-compassion is holding yourself like a gentle mother holds her infant, welcoming yourself like you welcome a loved one. Self-compassion is one of the most powerful emotions that can help you feel better, stronger, and more balanced in your life. Self-compassion is a deep empathy for your suffering (and can be extended to others) accompanied with a strong desire and commitment to alleviate suffering. Self-compassion requires a tolerance for your internal states (emotions, thoughts and bodily sensations) without minimizing them, changing them or denying them. It allows you to become familiar with what is happening inside of you without fighting or fleeing. The practice of tolerance allows you to better address your distress. Self-compassion requires a strong commitment to refrain from condemning yourself or judging yourself. At later stages your growing sense of compassion can be extended to others.

Where to start with compassion focused therapy?

Self-compassion can be learned via small steps, such as having kind and loving intentions and taking care of yourself. A necessary initial step, which you can learn in compassion focused therapy, is to observe how you treat yourself, how you think about yourself and how you feel toward yourself. After having carefully observed the thoughts, emotions, and actions you have toward yourself, it will be time to start replacing some of the negative self-judgements with positive and kind thoughts. The next step would be to act in a kind manner toward yourself by acknowledging and validating your emotions, needs, and wishes. Through modifying your thoughts and actions toward yourself, your emotions will start to change too. By building your self-compassion, you build a safety net for your own self and for those you care about when difficult and negative emotions and life situations strike you. Learning and embodying compassion allows you to tolerate and to be patient and compassionate toward others and to have personal strength and self-confidence.

Compassionate mind-training utilizes meditative and other guided imagery techniques to cultivate compassion for oneself and others. Compassion focused therapy integrates compassionate mind training with other cognitive and behaviour modalities. Many studies have suggested that compassion focused therapy is effective, specifically with individuals with high shame and/or guilt feelings. However not all therapist are trained or experienced in compassion-focused therapy and related treatments. Beyond the treatment modality itself, the therapist’s personal qualities—namely a compassionate stance and attitude—are critical in communicating and fostering compassion in others.

For more information about Compassion Focused Therapy, please visit: The Compassionate Mind Foundation

If you want to learn how you can be more patient and compassionate toward yourself and more about compassion focused therapy, please don’t hesitate to contact me for a free 15-minute phone consultation at: 514-632-7133.