Self-Compassion and Psychological Well-Being



I'd like to welcome everyone to today's webinar self compassion and psychological well-being I'm Lynne Osborn director of business development at the short Center for compassionate health care and your moderator for today's session the Swart Center for compassionate health care is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to strengthening the relationship between patients and their clinical caregivers and preserving the human connection in health care before we can begin the formal presentation let's go over a few details about the webinar the Swart Center compassion and action webinar series is funded in part by a donation in memory of julian and eunice cohen today's program will be 60 minutes the first 45 minutes will be presentation followed by a ten-minute question-and-answer session today's program is being recorded and will be available on the short Center website a week after the session please note that attendees are participating in listening only mode but can interact with the speakers and me by using the questions pane which should be appearing on your screen if you have questions please just type them into the questions pane and send them to us and we'll address as many of them as we can at the end of the formal program will also be pulling the audience during this session and we hope you will participate in this measurement tool as you exit the webinar you'll receive an electronic survey that we asked you to take a minute to complete so that we may measure your assessment of today's program your feedback is really important to us and now it's my pleasure to introduce our host for today's session dr. Beth lamb that is an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and the medical director of the Schwartz Center for compassionate care Deb Thank You Lynne and good afternoon everyone self-compassion involves treating ourselves kindly in times of emotional distress just as we would a close friend we cared about rather than making evaluations of ourselves as being good or bad self compassion involves understanding ourselves perfect humans and learning to be present with inevitable struggles of life of greater ease it really motivates us to make the changes we need to make in our lives not complete feeling worthless or an adequate but because we want to lessen our own suffering so this session will present some theory and research on self compassion which a growing empirical literature shows is strongly associated with psychological well-being and our presenters will also talk about how self compassion can really be a powerful tool for caregivers allowing us to really be present for others while avoiding burnout and caregiver fatigue and then finally we'll do a brief self compassion exercise that will be taught by our presenters and that you can actually practice in your everyday life so now it's my pleasure to introduce today's speakers and first is Kristin Neff and Kristin yellow back here I'll just tell the audience that you're an associate professor of educational psychology at University of Texas at Austin and Kristin's really been a pioneer in this field she's the one who really conducted the first studies on self compassion over a decade ago and I'll just say that in addition to reading a whole bunch of articles and book chapters she's the author of the book self compassion the proven power of being kind to yourself and in conjunction with our other speaker her colleague dr. Christopher Marsh she's developed an eight-week training program called mindful self-compassion and they offer workshops from self compassion all over the world also you'll be interested to know that Kristen is featured in a book and a documentary called the horse boy which chronicles her family's journey to Mongolia where they trekked on horseback to find healing for her autistic son so welcome Kristin Thank You Beth I'm so happy to be here so I'm glad they're I'm glad you're with us so now let's also introduce Chris Christie dr. Guerra is a clinical psychologist and private practice and a clinical instructor in psychology at Harvard Medical School a founding faculty member of the Institute for meditation and psychotherapy and he too leads workshops internationally on mindfulness of self compassion and developed with Kristin the eight-week mindful self-compassion program Chris also is the author of a book called the mindful path to self compassion and co-editor of mindfulness and psychotherapy and wisdom and compassion in psychotherapy so welcome Chris thank you Beth and I'm looking forward to today's discussion yeah I think we all are so why don't you guys just jump right in go right ahead well we're going to be talking about self compassion going over some of the research on self compassion and then Chris especially is gonna be talking about how it's relevant for caregivers yes thank you why don't you begin okay I think we're starting with the polling question are we that's right and here we are so their first polling question if our audience could take a look at their screens and look find their polling pane and vote I thought on the following question when you fail make a mistake or things go wrong in life how do you typically treat yourself selection one is as well as you treat a friend worse than you treat a friend is selection – and about the same as number three so if you could just take a moment and say and I take a look at your screen and fill out your check your polling question one two or three how do you treat yourself when something goes wrong I'll read the question one more time when you fail make a mistake or things go wrong in life how do you typically treat yourself as well as you treat a friend worse than you treat a friend or about the same okay we've got some great results here and we're going to close the poll the results are on your screen as well as well as you treat a friend ten percent worse than you treat a friend 73% and about the same 17% I wonder Chris or Kristen would you like to comment on those results well I can just say that's about what we find in the research as well the vast majority of people say they treat others much better than they treat themselves so this is not unusual okay thank you audience and on that we'll proceed with the presentation okay so what is self compassion really if we want to think of a short definition it involves treating yourself with the same kindness care and concern as you treat a close friend unfortunately though as was shown in that poll most of us do not treat ourselves as kindly if we treat friends in fact actually if you really think about it some of us speak to ourselves in a way we probably wouldn't even speak to people we don't like very much okay so what we're doing with self compassion is we're really learning a different way to be with ourselves learning a warm open-hearted way of being in with ourselves especially when we're suffering when I first started learning about self compassion it was my last year of graduate school UC Berkeley and I was under a lot of stress I was trying to finish my PhD trying to get a submission I'm trying to get a job so I was in Berkeley I decided well what else do you do in Berkeley but learn how to meditate right there was like three meditation centers just on the street from me and the very first night I went to the meditation Center the woman talked about the importance of self compassion talked about the need for us to be kind to ourselves and really it immediately made a difference in my life I was surprised how quickly my life changed just by giving myself permission to be kind to myself and then you know I did go on to start researching the topic which I'll talk about in a moment but I have to say in some ways I conducted the research to prove what I already knew self-compassion have got me through very hard times over and over again so to give an example when my son was diagnosed with autism I'd already had about seven years of self-compassion practice under my belt and thank goodness because it really it really helped me actually was going to a meditation retreat the day he got diagnosed and the whole retreat I just sat there in and gave myself compassion and concern and kindness and I let myself feel whatever I was feeling even I thought I shouldn't be having and once I opened my heart to myself I found I could really more easily accept Rowan as well so over and over my journey with him and my journey in general self compassion really helped and that's why I'm so passionate about it but going back to the research when I first decided to reach research self compassion I knew I had to come up with a clear definition and so from my point of view self compassion is composed of three different components and that is kindness common humanity and mindfulness so let me just talk about those a bit more in detail okay um so kind of self kindness versus self judgment that's really what we are talking about before showing ourselves the same care and understanding that we Joe a friend rather than the harsh self judgment that we usually give toward our self the vessel an action element to self compassion it means that when we're suffering we actively soothe and comfort ourselves again just like we would to a friend okay the next element is common humanity versus isolation and this really involves seeing our experiences imperfection as part of the larger human experience now you know logically cognitively we know that life is imperfect we know that we're imperfect and we wouldn't say any differently but irrationally emotionally what happens when life gets difficult if we feel that something has gone wrong that this shouldn't be happening that this is somehow abnormal and there's that feeling that this is abnormal that actually causes us to feel isolated you know as this again this is all irrational but if this if everyone else in the world is living this perfectly happy normal life and it's just me who's suffering in that way so it really adds insult to injury because not only are we suffering were also feel all alone on our suffering so a self compassion we remember that wait a second this is part of the human experience this is supposed to be happening is part of life and then when we do that believe it or not every moment of suffering offers an opportunity for connection and then the third component of self compassion is mindfulness so in order for us to be kind to ourselves to open our hearts to ourselves when we're suffering we first have to be able to turn toward that suffering to notice it and to be with it as it is okay and mindfulness also is a kind of balanced awareness that neither minimizes nor avoids how difficult things are but also doesn't run away with an exaggerated story line if you know well with me and I called that process over identification so mindfulness allows us to be present with our situation for long enough to we can recognize common humanity and be kind to ourselves um and there's actually been some research done especially by a man named Paul Gilbert trying to understand where both self-criticism the lack of self compassion and self and self compassion where these come from and they actually have different physiological roots okay so criticism is rooted in the threat defense system this is one of our oldest physiological systems when there's some threat in the environment like that picture you see where if you're the aligned with chasing you what would happen is your amygdala get triggered your you release cortisol and adrenaline and you get ready for a fight or flight it's a very important system and it keeps us alive the problem is the system evolved to protect our bodily cells and nowadays typically the threat isn't to our bodily cells but to our self-concept so every time we fail we make a mistake or a so inadequate or in some way our self-concept is threatened and that actually true there's a threat defense system we release cortisol and adrenaline and we get ready for fight or flight unfortunately that is actually directed to ourselves because the were the problem and it's really double whammy because we are both the attacker can be attacked okay so that's why self-criticism is so painful why it's linked to things like anxiety and depression because we're just feel under threat all the time so on sometimes this system is referred to as the reptilian brain alright so we all have this system but luckily at least most of us aren't just reptiles we're also mammals okay so self compassion is really rooted in the mammalian caregiving system and this is the system where when we're exposed to things like warmth gentle touch and soothing focalization we release oxytocin and opiates and we feel safe and the reason the system evolves is because the million young are born very immature and they needed a system in place that would keep the infant safe and close to the mothers so what this means is that when we give ourselves warmth you know aren't we speak gently to ourselves and we're really tender with ourselves we use a kind tome then we also feel safe and we feel really like we're being taken care of and so Chris is actually going to lead through a practice that that will be uses these components we've just been talking about you induce this data self-compassion yes we'll be activating them a mammalian caregiving system by using phrases that correspond to the three components of self-compassion that Kristin mentioned mindfulness common humanity and self kindness so this is a five minute exercise that you can practice any time in daily life when you feel under stress it's called the self compassion break so to start I would like to invite everyone to close your eyes and to think of a problem that you're having in your life right now such as a relationship problem work problem a health problem or maybe a loved one that's struggling so choose one and really let yourself feel it feel it in your body and so I said there are three phrases so the first phrase is this this is a moment of suffering as you think about this problem and your body doesn't feel at ease this is a moment of suffering this is a moment of suffering other words you can use such as this hurts where this is tough or ouch that's mindfulness this is a moment of suffering just validating it the second phrase suffering is a part of life suffering is a part of life other phrases that capture this element of common humanity are other people also feel this way or I'm not alone or we all struggle in our lives which is recognizing recognizing you're not alone in this struggle and now I'd like everyone if you don't mind to put your hand one or two hands over your heart or maybe over your belly or anywhere anywhere that it feels soothing just take a moment and feel the touch of your hands then saying to yourself may I be kind to myself may I be kind to myself may I be kind to myself that's self-kindness the third component and you can use any phrase you like such as me I accept myself as I am yeah I forgive myself may I be strong some words of kindness okay so the self-compassion break has three phrases mindfulness this is moment of suffering common humanity suffering as a part of life finally self kindness may I be kind to myself and then slowly open your eyes and now I'm going to turn the program over to Lin for our final polling question thanks Chris and thank you all for participating our polling question number two is what misgivings do you have about self compassion do you have feelings that it's selfish number one it's self indulgent number two number three its weak number four it lowers standards number five it weakens motivation if you could open your polling pane and just pick a little choice there we'd love to have your input on how you feel about what misgivings do you have about self compassion again one it's selfish it's self indulgent number two it's weak number three it lower standards number four number five it weakens motivation this is this is an interesting question to ask right after we've just done this nice meditation here we go it's awesome you know sometimes it's not what you personally think but sometimes some of your colleagues or people you've pulled about the idea of self compassion have these misgivings as well very good yes indeed sort of impressions of self compassion and we've got a good set of responses now I think we'll close the poll and we go to our results interestingly it's selfish 21 percent it's self indulgent 46 percent Wow it's weak 19% at lower standards 13% in it weakens motivation 20% so Chris you might wanna Chris or Kristen would you like to comment on these results well I'd actually like to set it I'll comment about them and I'd like to comment about them in conjunction with the research because these are very common misgivings about self-compassion and luckily we have enough data to show that they aren't really founded in reality okay so if that's all right I'm going to do that so research on self-compassion the first couple articles I published was in 2005 and at that time there was work on mindfulness but not much on self compassion and the research literature on self compassion has really really exploded okay you can see this graph here from 2003 when there was just two publications so now there's I think about 300 articles chapters and dissertations written on self compassion so it's really it's kind of the hip new thing and research but it's really great because we're getting a lot of empirical evidence on the benefits of self compassion and basically the bottom line if you want to sum up the entire research field is that it's strongly linked well-being so it's linked to reductions and anxiety depression and stress in fact there was recently a meta-analysis which pulled together a lot of studies and found a large and strong effect size a self compassion being linked to less anxiety depression and stress also less negative mind states like rumination you're less likely to suppress your thoughts less likely perfectionistic or to feel shame and so at the same time that there's reductions in these negative states there are also increases in positive states of mind things like life satisfaction unhappiness feeling more connected to others feeling more self-confident optimistic yuria grateful okay and really I think to me this illustrates the beauty of self compassion because what happens when we embrace our suffering with kindness if we help them alleviate the suffering we calm and soothe ourselves but at the same time this feeling that holds our suffering the sense of kindness connectedness presence mindfulness these are very positive emotions but simultaneously lowers reduces a negative and increases the positive okay um probably the most common this giving about self compassion is that it is linked to lower motivation that it's going to undermine our motivation that's a lot of people they really cling to their inner critic because they think they need it to keep them going in life well in fact the research shows just the opposite the research shows that being kind of supportive to ourself just like a good coach would be it's actually a lot more effective than cutting ourselves down all the time so for instance it's linked to more motivation the desire to grow because we're interested in growing you want to learn a lot of people think it's gonna lower our standards well that's not true at all actually what we find is the standards of self compassionate people are justified the difference is they don't get us upset when they don't meet them okay they're more able to handle failure and what that means is they have less fear of failure okay and that when they do fail they're more likely to try again and they kind of keep trying even if it's difficult and this is really important for motivation because we know don't we that failure is really the best learning experience so on people who are more self compassionate and there's a lot of research to support this are actually more motivated to reach their goal I'm motivated in a healthy manner one of the other things that comes up with this giving is about self compassion is the idea that somehow it's letting yourself off the hook you know I'm self-compassionate oh well I stole $500 you know it's only human right people have that misconception again the research show shows just the opposite if you're self compassionate you're more likely to be conscientious you're actually more likely to take responsibility for your past mistakes because you know if you think about it because it's safe to do so if I know that my Medina made a mistake I'm going to feel horrible horrible about myself and beat myself up I might try to find you okay but if it's safe to make mistakes if it's okay then I admit that I've made mistakes and for that reason people who are more self compassionate are actually more likely to apologize when they do make okay this belief that it's self indulgent which for this crowd was actually I'm the most common misgiving well once again the research is showing just the opposite so if compassionate people are more likely to engage in healthy behaviors things like I'm exercising some nice research showing that elderly people in particular are more likely to visit the doctor yeah you've preventative health they have self compassion people are more likely to practice safe sex they're less likely to drink a lot of alcohol and self-compassion also helps people quit smoking and again this makes sense like a compassionate mother wouldn't let when indulge her child she wouldn't let him eat whatever should be he wants and look at school and staff all night a compassionate mother says you know eat your vegetables do your homework go to school on time and it's the same with ourselves if we care about ourselves and we don't want to suffer we're going to do what it takes to actually be healthy and in fact one of the ways research is showing this plays itself out is an issues of body image and eating disorders okay people who are more self compassionate normal able to accept themselves as they are they're less preoccupied with their bodies you know wondering if they look a certain way they're less ashamed of their bodies they blow their diet less likely to binge afterwards a lot of people you know they're trying to lose weight they blow their diet they say oh well i'ma failure or they're upset so they drown no more food when people are self compassionate they can accept that they blown their diet and therefore they can kind of go back to their regular eating patterns a lot of research shows that it's less linked to less anorexic behaviors binging behaviors really all sorts of eating disorders or disorders they're lower in people who have self compassion and a reason that he just came out showing that people who are more self compassionate are more likely to listen to their bodies and stop when they're full the conception that self compassion is weak well again we're finding out in the research self compassion is one of the greatest strengths we have it's linked to a coping and resilience in all sorts of situations it's the strongest predictor of resilience and divorce for vets who the predictor a preventative measure of your PTSD it helps people cope with things like AIDS and chronic pain the idea that somehow self compassion is selfish let them turn out to be true either in fact people who are more self compassionate we find that they're more caring and supportive and with their partners or their intimate partners they're more accepting they're less controlling they're less aggressive and of course this makes sense because you know if you don't expect your partners to have to meet all your meat needs exactly when and as you want to met then you really have more to give to your partner so if anything but selfishness actually helps you connect to others and in fact if you look to the link between self compassion and care for others people who are self compassionate toward themselves are more or less each forgive others to take their perspectives and also to under help others when they're in need okay so self compassion is not selfish not only does that help people give to others it also seems to help sustain giving to others there's a growing literature on the role of self compassion for caregivers and we find perhaps not surprisingly that self compassion is linked to less burnout it's going to less caregiver fatigue people who are self compassionate are more I satisfied with their care giving role and actually a manuscript I just sent off I wish me luck to be published we did a study of parents of autistic children something that all very personally and we found that actually the level of self compassion parents had with more predictive of how well they were coping with their role than the severity of the autism itself and we find this over and over again it's not just what happens to you that counts is how you relate to yourself in the midst of your struggle that seems to count the most um in terms of you know some of the early influences on self compassion we're also finding out a lot more with this that people who have secure attachment to it good parenting you feel positive about themselves have good expectations for the world they tend to have more self compassion unfortunately people with the history of abuse or parents who are very critical if there was a lot of fighting in the home they tend to have lower levels of self compassion the good news is though is we're also finding that people with problematic childhoods if they learn how to be more self compassionate that it actually really helps them heal and it helps them actually not be as disabled by their early childhood history so that that's really exciting finding I think and it really leads to this question of can self compassion be taught are we stuck with the level who are born with or can we learn this and I'd like to turn this over to Chris yes Thank You Kristen so at this point actually most of the research on self compassion has been correlational showing really strong associations with many measures of mental and physical health but what about training you know prospective studies so that research is just beginning and in a moment Kristen will share the results of a randomized control trial that we did on our eight-week mindful self-compassion training program but shorter trainings also seem to work such as writing a compassionate letter to yourself daily for seven days or listening to self compassion meditations three to four times a week for three weeks they also appear to make a difference self compassion is considered the beating heart of mindfulness training or the attitude of mindfulness and so we've also found that eight-week mindfulness trainings like mindfulness based stress reduction and mitral and based cognitive therapy also seem to increase self compassion but perhaps not as much as full on self compassion training self compassion is also a key element of the newly emerging mindfulness and acceptance based therapies one notable therapeutic approach that focuses on self compassion is Paul Gilbert's compassion focused therapy and this program seeks to activate the mammalian caregiving system that Kristin mentioned earlier and it's also been shown to be effective for a wide range of psychological disorders especially shame disorders which seem to underlie a lot of a lot of other disorders such as anxiety and depression and alcoholism and violence and so forth but there's even also a randomized controlled study by Christine Brailler that shows that compassion focus therapy can reduce depression in psychosis so the program that Kristin and I have been developing for the past five years is called mindful self-compassion that's also an eight-week program two and a half hours per week in addition to a four hour retreat the program is open to anyone and this program includes meditation short talks experiential exercises group discussion home practices and the goal of the program is for participants to have a felt sense of self compassion a direct experience of it and also to learn practices that evoke self compassion and daily life and so now Kristin will share some of our research findings on this MSC program sorry okay here I am thank you yes we've published one randomized controlled trial of the program where we compared the outcomes for people who took our program versus people who on the waiting list to take our program and we had about 54 participants so it was a fairly small study we're hoping to do some more research but we did get some nice results okay here this graph shows levels of gains and self compassion mindfulness compassion for others and also life satisfaction and we find really large increases especially in self compassion that's about a 43% increase which is very large for this type of research more mindfulness what might more compassion for others not as much and that's basically because people came into this program very high levels of compassion already so there was a bit of a ceiling effect they also reduced in negative outcomes things like less depression less anxiety less address unless tendency to avoid your negative emotion so it seemed to really impact the mindset of people after taking this program as they went about their daily life and we also follow up over time we actually measured how well they were doing right after the program six months after the program and actually a year after the program and although being games were maintained nothing was lost in fact this graph shows self compassion but if you look at life satisfaction it actually significantly increased after year and I like to kind of interpret that finding is saying that the more you practice self compassion the more it's going to make your life meaningful and more satisfying there was also an impact of how often people practice self compassion on on how much self compassion they gained what was kind of interesting it actually surprised me a little bit is that first of all the days people meditated per week using the self compassion meditations we teach that predicted how much people gained but also the informal practices just like the one crisp leads you through that was equally predictive of how much while being was gained and the reason I think that's important is you know the faces not everyone has time to meditate that everyone wants to meditate so just really learning to be kinder to yourself to speak to yourself more kindly and to care and soothe and comfort yourself when you're feeling suffering seems to really seems to really make a difference and of course this is very important for the people listening to this webinar because caregivers really need self compassion and I'd actually like to hand this over to Chris to talk about how it's relevant for caregiving yes thank you so self compassion is uniquely helpful for caregivers those who care for patients children elders or anyone really who needs our help for extended periods of time probably everyone on the webinar knows about compassion fatigue or burnout you know symptoms include disturbed sleep avoiding shots and feelings associated with work or with caregiving de-stress intrusive thoughts also our attention wandering away from people we're supposed to be caring for we often become irritated or angry sometimes even hateful toward those were caring for so that's compassion fatigue or caregiver fatigue but one thing we should know is that caregiver fatigue isn't a weakness it's actually a sign of being human the human brain is highly social and we seem to have neurons dedicated to perceiving in our own bodies what others are experiencing they're called mirror neurons but we also have other areas in the brain dedicated to evaluating social situations such as the default mode Network right down the middle of the brain and the temporoparietal Junction right above the ear on the right right above the ear and together we can feel what others feel feel literally we can feel it when others are in pain we feel that pain in our own bodies as real pain and if the pain is severe enough we develop vicarious traumatization or secondary traumatization that's that's precisely what compassion fatigue is it's a lot like post-traumatic stress disorder characterized by hyper arousal avoidance re-experiencing but the more we resist or avoid the pain the more exhausted we become so we're usually told that the best way to alleviate compassion fatigue is to have firmer boundaries between ourselves and those we're caring for we're also advised to take better care of ourselves such as exercise attending workshops working less getting supervision delegating responsibilities spending time with friends but what's the limitation of these strategies they are important self-care strategy is important but they're and they're off motivated by self kindness but they tend to happen off the job they don't help us in the midst of caregiving interactions and also their strategies which involve boundaries help Mike help us to like make us feel disconnected from those that we're caring for so enter compassion compassion is a way of being with empathic pain without fighting it and becoming exhausted we all know nurses who seem to be naturally good at that their their heart is open and they're just full of love even when people are suffering so what is compassion compassion is empathy which is feeling another person's world as their own empathy + love so Tonya singer a neuropsychologist and colleagues have found that on fMRI scans of the brain that compassion activates pleasure centers in the brain such as the striatum at the same time as we experience the suffering of others so compassion is actually a positive emotion we feel good even in the midst of suffering so hence Tanya singer and her colleague the monk matthieu ricard said that actually compassion fatigue is a misnomer it's really empathy fatigue so compassion allows us to be in the presence of suffering with an open heart there's a physician michael kearney who wrote in in the Journal of American Medical Association 2009 physicians with burnout who used self-care without self awareness and here he implies also self compassion they feel as though they're drowning and barely able to come up for air whereas self-care with self awareness and self compassion is like learning to breathe under water so what this means is we can stay in the game with self awareness and self compassion we can continue caregiving while caring for ourselves so self-compassion provides emotional resources needed to care for others everyone who's ever flown an airplane has probably heard if there's a drop in cabin pressure the oxygen masks will automatically drop down please take your mask put it firmly over your face before helping others so in this self compassion training program we teach people that we teach them how to practice self compassion even while they're engaged in caregiving for example we teach a meditation called giving and receiving compassion we're basically and when you breathe in you breathe in for yourself and you breathe out for the other person while you're caregiving some people have dubbed this one for me one for you or lose it loving ourselves without while loving others anyhow you can try it out for yourself and you can even breathe in for yourself and out for others when you think about someone you're caring for who stresses you out and yes we because we're so empathically connected with others our calm mind state does impact the mind state of those we care about our mind states are contagious and so sometimes the best way we can care for others is by finding our way home to our own loving Center so now I'm going to turn the program over to well what can I actually tell the little story Chris I think there's time to really I've seen this play out my own life over and over again you know like I said earlier self compassion really really helped me deal with Roland's autism and what I found is so just to tell a little story one time I was actually on a plane with the transatlantic flight and right you know that moment when the lights went down and everyone was trying to get to sleep owen decided to throw a horrific tantrum had no idea why boom you know was disturbed they were looking at it so i thought oh well you know the bathroom up was cries of course that didn't work it was occupied and so here here Ron and I were in that little hallway outside the bathroom when he was screaming and tantrum and I knew that I had no other option but to give myself compassion it was there was I kind of surrendered but it opened my heart to myself and what I found was believe it or not instead of just being with the anxiety and stress of the tantrum and what was happening I was actually able to rest in the love and sense of connectedness and presence that was holding my own suffering so thinking sure well was a pay of course but most of my attention was turned toward myself and giving myself what I needed and then what I found and I found this over and over again that as soon as I give myself compassion and my mind state comes down and I feel soothed I feel safe rowan immediately responds right so if i feel annoyed or scared he feels kind of increases in stress food but if i've been calm and soothe myself it helps them feel common soup we're just beginning to make the point that self compassion is not selfish at all the more we give ourselves what we need the more we care for ourselves the more other people were in contact with pick up on that and also feel on a calmer more open-hearted state of mind all right the one to tell that story now we should probably turn the program over to dr. well yeah yeah no I was just gonna thank both of you I love that story Kristen and you know it strikes me that that's yet another example of this emotional resonance through the mirror neuron system or other kinds of systems in our brain that just act without our conscious awareness very often so I to ask a question because they're clutched societal standards or maybe I'm don't mean to stereotype all of us who live in this country but when I think of some of the cultural symbols you know the Lone Ranger and all of these kinds of things our society seems to be characterized and value people who are independent or individualistic and who may or may not be judgmental when they compare themselves or other people with societal standards and I think this is especially true for health professionals and it's so counter cultural to think of being self accepting feeling that one's self as part of a larger humanity I'm wondering if you have thoughts on some of the more powerful ways actually to start to really shift this societal mindset that values individualistic highly independent forward moving action people you want me to take that predator yeah okay well it is true in our culture you might say self-esteem is God being number one right we all have to be special on above average that's the way we like to think but there are just so many huge downsides to that constant social comparison you know we feel good when we succeed but when we fail you know our self-esteem deserts us and we feel horrible so I really do think there is starting to be a culture shift I'm actually really encouraged I get Google Alerts on articles and blogs on self compassion and they increase all the time it seems to be slowly entering the common culture the idea that we can be a good friend to ourselves I think that's really following how we've changed our parenting style you know most people society used to believe spare the rod spoil the child and people now kind of realize that being more nurturing being more encouraging is going to get better results and I think that starting to happen with the idea of self compassion versus self-criticism as well and the absolute thing people are starting to ask the question you know what really makes me happy is it feeling I'm better than others is it having that fancy car having that fancy house or is it really being uh you know my heart open we have a colleague Michelle Becker who works with us she likes to describe the three components of self compassion as having a sense of loving connected presence you know it and isn't that really what we want having loving connected presence and I think more and more people are starting to take on that point of view so you know we'll see we'll see but I really actually have a lot of hope that things are starting to change that's encouraging Thank You Lynne have there been other questions that have been posed by our listeners yes there are Beth thanks so much we have a number of questions and before we get I just want to remind our audience to type their questions into the question pane the first one I'd like to ask is why are we surprised by suffering has there been a shift in worldview Christy you want to take that one er oh goodness I don't know I don't even know where to begin on that art it's in our culture we we do tend to be surprised by suffering I know in Poland for example when you say hi how are you if you say great it's actually considered socially inappropriate you know you start to talk a little bit about some of the difficulties that you're going through in order to connect so I do think in our culture we are surprised with suffering my guess is is that in our culture it's because suffering is somehow associated with shame or you know failure and shame but perhaps kristen has some reflection on that as well well I mean I think really in American culture in particular where we're all about positive thinking and being special and above average we do have this and again it's not logical but this sense but we should be perfect we should have everything go well you know things should be going swimmingly I mean we shouldn't say and that when they don't something that's gone wrong and I'm not sure why exactly that is the case maybe maybe movies maybe media maybe just our life is pretty good here and we've come to expect the good but again just to point out how really damaging that is because we are imperfect things you go along and that is normal so if we don't expect suffering then we're gonna feel something has gone wrong we feel isolated and cut off and the rest of humanity so yeah it I don't really have an answer for why that's there but I I completely agree that it is there so we're gonna have to wake up and some wine so I thank you very much them another question is can you speak to secondary traumatic stress Chris why don't you take that one and you know the effect and the effects of secondary traumatic stress well you know as I mentioned secondary traumatic stress is is a lot like you know post-traumatic stress when we experience stress directly and that includes hyper arousal you know disturbed sleep irritability avoidance which is avoiding thought and feelings associated with a situation and also re experiencing of distress and truces thoughts or dreams and so forth but what I think is the important thing to remember when it comes to self compassion is that actually self compassion enables us to avoid bless avoid traumatic difficult experiences less and unless we avoid the shorter is the time that we suffer in contrast the more we resist or avoid a difficult internal experience the longer it goes on in other words what we say what we resist persists and what we can feel we can heal so soft fashion is a way of comforting and soothing ourselves when we suffer from trauma either direct trauma or secondary traumatic stress because it's a it's what we call a resource it's a capacity or a skill it allows us to be with without multiplying our suffering through resistance and avoidance it allows us to expose ourselves it's sort of a natural global desensitization process when we steal we have the capacity to meet suffering excellent Chris thank you and we've got five minutes where's time for one more question having an open heart to suffering and to people who suffer seems to cross domains with religion can you please comment on that I'm happy to comment on that does it cross domains with religion wide say it certainly crosses domain for spirituality religion is a very complicated topic and some of it's about spirituality them some of it's about things other than spirituality but I really think if you look at all the spiritual traditions the idea of self compassion is in there so for instance Christianity and people might think oh well it's all about sin and I'm a sinner but what about the idea of Jesus in your heart right if you accept Jesus in your hearts and it's an amazing source of compassion do you have access to in Islam they talked very much about compassion and Buddhism which is kind of where I learned about self compassion you know it's really key to key to the practice so spirituality really is about seeing something bigger than ourselves seeing either a Creator God or just really interconnected Ness and so in a way how can spirituality lead to anything else and the idea that what we value is love being connected presence so I would agree although religion you know sometimes it's more about rules and about spirituality so not good sure about that one well and I thank you for making that distinction because I think that's a that's a very insightful and I think we're just about out of time I'd like to thank dr. Sloane Neff and Germer and Beth Chris and Kristen for sharing your expertise and insights with us as well as everyone in the audience for setting aside time in your busy day to participate in our program we hope that you'll join us for upcoming programs in the short Center for compassionate care webinar series including the next one in January navigating discussions of prognosis balancing hope and honesty on January 13th you can visit our website to find out more at www.canninsider.com/consulting a file and set of commitments which you'll see and we know how busy you are and we very much appreciate your taking a moment to complete the electronic survey when you exit today's program because we would value your input for a future program I'm Beth would you like to comment well I just want to say thank you to both Christian and Chris and I think the whole concept of self-acceptance self compassion really Foster's acceptance compassion connectedness with others and that kind of spirit I think would probably go a long way in making our whole world a more peaceful just equitable and better place to live so thank you so much for sharing your insights with us and some exercises that we can take home and practice thank you most welcome thank you all and and we will see you at the next compassion in action webinar thanks so much you

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *