Virtual reality could be a valuable therapeutic tool and already has preliminary evidence for helping people who struggle with social anxiety, eating disorders and posttraumatic stress disorder. In virtual reality, sensors detect a person’s movements; when a person moves their real body, they move an embodied virtual body. From this first-person perspective, people have an immersive experience of inhabiting different bodies and navigating different situations.Read more
Without realizing it, for most of my life I followed the maxim “If it’s the hard thing, it’s the right thing.” I often pushed myself too far. Exercise would result in injury when I didn’t pay attention to my body’s needs for rest and recovery. I’d get burned out at work when I forced myself to do the hard things and ignored what I enjoyed or found meaningful. I’d lose out on fun and connection because I was so focused on working hard and getting things done.
Many people who are highly self-critical will understand this experience. It makes sense in a way. If you’re constantly being critical of yourself for not being/doing good enough in some way, it might seem like the way to appease that self-critic is to just try harder, toughen up, excel or just GET.IT. DONE! That’s the strategy I tried for too many years.Read more
Extending compassion to others is undoubtedly important. Especially since America is, arguably, more divided now than ever.
But being able to receive compassion is important, too. In fact, research suggests that it may be a crucial factor in promoting wellbeing.
If we’re unkind to others, we’ll likely receive some immediate feedback – perhaps a disappointed look, scolding, or ostracization. But what is the consequence of avoiding the kindness of others?Read more
For those of us, like myself, with a history of harsh self-criticism, it may seem like the last thing in the world we need to do is cultivate self-doubt! We often feel like we’re doubting ourselves constantly, for example, when we second guess or criticize ourselves.
Paradoxically, this tendency toward self-criticism can actually result in us being closed minded with others, because it makes receiving feedback from them even more painful than it might otherwise be. In order to protect ourselves from the pain of receiving feedback, we develop ways to avoid or block it. For me personally, I have noticed several ways I avoid or block feedback. I may not ask for feedback when it might be a helpful, for example, at the end of a therapy session that I felt unsure about, or at the end of a staff meeting. Or, I may present my opinions as facts, making it hard for others to disagree. I may come across as certain and confident when feeling anything but. I may shut down or pout after receiving feedback, making it less likely the person will want to do it again. I may come across as fragile and uncertain in the face of feedback, implying that it’s too much for me. All of these behaviors serve to (usually unintentionally) block feedback from the people in my life.Read more
Does 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?Read more
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.Read more
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.Read more
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.Read more
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
In 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.Read more
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.Read more