Does Self-Compassion Make You Lazy?

lazy_cat_300.jpgDoes too much self-compassion make a person lazy and self-indulgent? It seems sensible that self-compassion could help a person feel better, but couldn’t it also lead a person to, say, binge on Netflix and eat ice cream all day?

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Helping people who are highly self-critical benefit from feedback

It’s often painful to get feedback from other people, and even harder to know what to do with it when we do get it. It can feel like an attack on our person, and it can be hard to identify whether there is something in the feedback that we can actually change.

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Self-Enquiry into self-criticism, self-blame, and shame

A mentor of mind, Kelly Wilson, said the following years ago about himself and it’s always stuck with me.

The levels of self-deception are endless.

There are certain phrases that stick with you because they resonate deeply. I’ve had so many times in my life where I thought I knew the answer and yet my knowing had blinded me to what I needed to learn.

However, as a person who’s been highly self-critical much of my life, I have often found it difficult to reflect on myself. Reflecting on myself brings evaluation and judgment.

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Study Suggests It’s Important to Target Shame Early in Eating Disorder Treatments

Background

Certain therapies, such as Compassion-Focused Therapy (CFT) and the work we do at ACT With Compassion, are based upon the idea that shame plays a role in the maintenance of a variety of mental health struggles, including disordered eating. Yet, the evidence-base for how shame and self-compassion affect therapy and remission over time is more limited and sometimes contradictory.

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August 2017 Tool of the Month: Adaptive Disclosure for Moral Injury – A New Treatment that Uses Exposure and Perspective Taking to Address Problematic Social Emotions such as Shame

adaptive_disclosure_200.jpgIn talking with colleagues working within the Veterans Administration in the US, I’ve noticed that the topic of moral injury is receiving a lot of attention as of late. For those of us interested in helping people with deep-seated shame, the literature around moral injury is important because it deals with a context in which chronic and extreme shame often arise. A moral injury happens when a person perceives themselves as having violated closely held beliefs or moral codes. Shame, humiliation, and other social emotions are central to this experience of moral injury and need to be targeted in any intervention. One of the best researched treatments for moral injury is something called Adaptive Disclosure,  and a new book by Litz and colleagues called “Adaptive Disclosure: A New Treatment for Military Trauma, Loss, and Moral Injury” provides an excellent overview on the treatment.

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Self-Compassion and Body Image

Unfortunately, there often seems to be a wide chasm between what happens in the research lab and what happens on the front lines of clinical work. On the one hand, researchers need to listen to clinicians and learn about their direct experiences with clients. On the other hand, clinicians can benefit from hearing about clinically relevant research. We hope these posts reviewing recent research can help improve your practice with highly shame prone and self-critical clients. 

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“It’s OK Kiddo.” On internalizing self-compassion

Like many people, public speaking has been a struggle for me. When I first started out, I wasn’t simply anxious about public speaking, I was really bad at it. And I have the evidence to prove it. After the first psychology course I ever taught in graduate school, I was told that I had the worst evaluations in the history of the program. The problems continued in my role as a psychologist when I started giving workshops. I would bore the audience, criticize people, and be confusing. It was excruciating. I knew I was bad, but I did know how to be better. I kept trying, but I felt like I was failing again and again and again. The hours, and often days, after workshops would be filled with shame and self-loathing. As I think back on that younger me who went through that, I feel sadness for how much pain he endured. That younger me didn’t know any better at the time and was only doing his best.

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June 2017 Tool of the Month: Four Emotion Systems Handout

Four Emotion Systems: Flexibility is key!

In our work with clients who tend to be highly self-critical and shame-prone, one of the first things we seek to do is to create a deblaming platform for understanding how the person has come to operate the way they do in the world. It’s important that client (and therapist alike!) understand that even though certain behaviors or tendencies might be contributing to someone’s suffering now, these things likely evolved for very understandable and important reasons.

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Research Spotlight: Shame, Guilt and Drinking Problems

In this month’s post, we’ll turn the spotlight onto a paper that recently came out of our own center. A special thanks to all of the clients who, by choosing to come to our center, support our scientific research, and to all of the participants who donated their time to this project – our research wouldn’t be possible without people like you!

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Shame in Context: Considering Culture in the Approach to Shame

girl_shame.jpgMany researchers in English-speaking countries describe shame as uniformly maladaptive, and guilt as uniformly adaptive. In fact, a quick Google search of the terms pops up headings such as, “Shame is Lethal,” “Why Guilt is Better than Shame,” and “Guilt Versus Shame: One is Productive, the Other isn’t…” And, in fact, research does tend to show that in independence-focused cultures such as much of the USA and Europe, shame and how people cope with shame tends to be more problematic. Yet, a more nuanced perspective of emotions emerges when we begin to consider how emotions function in context. One relevant context is culture. In particular, people from more interdependent cultural contexts, such as much of Asia, tend to see shame as more adaptive and valuable, and the research seems to support their experience. In general, shame in these cultures is not as reliably associated with problems with mental health or social functioning and appears to serve valuable functions.

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