So here we go with the second half of my Top Ten of Compassion Focused Thepary (CFT). Had a great thought after publishing part one, it might have been more appropriate to have called the two parts Side A and Side B.
Thanks for the feedback on part one, it’s much appreciated – what seemed a fun idea has caught a few people’s imagination, never quite sure when you publish how well the random ideas might go. Sadly I haven’t been able to work in the classic by Europe “The Final Countdown” (kids, find that on your streaming platform and revel in an 80s classic…an introduction that takes nearly 1 1/2 minutes to get to the lyrics and ba-ba-baa, bam-bam-bam- bam will be in your head all day long). Also eagerly looking forward to learn if #1 is what some have predicted it will be.
So pop pickers, turn the compassionate sound system up to max, it’s that all important rundown to number one…
“Can’t teach an old dog new tricks” is an old cliche that isn’t true when it comes to our brain. The brain is changing as we learn and experience life. I find this amazing and reassuring – depression may be there, rattling around in my head but I can learn ways that will help manage it. Those ways, such as meditation, can in turn strengthen parts of my brain, build new connections which help support at times of when the rat is more active. Don’t you find that astounding ? The brain is not fixed, it can continue to be developed and refined by our experiences and how we use it, including how we exercise it. Sounds obvious when said like that, but this is happening at a neurological structure level. Scientists call this neuroplasticity, it occurs naturally and regardless of age. I call it awesome.
#4 Me, Myself and I
Staying still at 4 is a concept which sounds like an existential crisis. What is the self , what makes me, me? Is there one self or many selfs ? For me this helps to think about those multiple selves which combine to make me and all who have a voice. These can include the selves who are critical, confident, anxious, angry, calm, impatient, anxious, happy and so on. And of course the one which I now try to bring more to the fore, compassionate. I may not like them all but they are part of me. Wishing to not have an impatient voice isn’t going to help, but rather it’s which voices you listen to and guide you. Developing the compassionate self has been critical in addressing depression. This is not to say I wasn’t compassionate , but not towards myself. That self-compassionate self is much better at seeing through the lies that the rat whispers. What self-compassion also allows is the consideration of which self is the right one for the context or situation I am in, allowing me to consider what is the best self I can be and aligned with my values.
#3 Go With The Flow
A song in three parts. The flow of compassion towards oneself is one of the three flows defined within CFT. It’s probably the hardest of the flows, it often feels selfish and can be at odds on how we are brought up, when we are encouraged to think of others first. Being clear this is about supporting and looking after yourself, so you stay healthy and able to support others.
Which leads to one of the other flows, the flow of compassion to others, which is probably easiest and most natural to do. We can be very good at understanding and supporting others in a way which is much harder to do to ourselves.
That leaves one more flow, which can also be difficult. This is the flow of compassion from others to us. Why is this difficult ? It can make us feel uncomfortable, we may not feel deserving of it. We might choose to deflect this by making light of the situation or using humour as a shield. Developing more self-compassion actually helps with this, as it does with the flow of compassion to others. It makes it more comfortable to receive help or praise, while deepening your attention to others.
#2 The Model
Down from #1 it’s what lies at the heart of CFT for me. It’s the elegantly simple model of the three emotional systens. It’s simple only in that it can be quickly drawn and grasped as a concept. Behind it sits loads of neuroscience and biochemical mechanisms which aren’t as easy to grasp, so it’s elegant that it can bring such complex processes together and define within three circles. The three systems – threat, drive and soothing – are all essential to live and indeed trive. But so often our systems are out of balance, with threat and drive fully turned up and soothing there in the background, waiting to be asked to dance. The Compassionate Sound System post explains how getting the balance right is both helpful and healthy.
And the tension builds, it’s the top spot it’s…..
#1 Don’t Bring Me Down
Up to number one at the last minute, because overall this is the thing which helps me the most. It’s the old inner critic, the self which is often the loudest and quickest to speak up. It’s quoted that 80% of our daily thoughts are negative. Estimates on how many thoughts humans have each day vary, let’s take a conservative figure of 40, 000 thoughts. That means today we each had approximately 32, 000 negative ones. Ouch.
Daily we speak to ourselves in a way we wouldn’t do someone else and without encouraging ourselves. This previous post took a longer look at the critic, with the key helpful hints for me being –
- Softening the tone of the words you use, moving from harsh to friendly tone
- Using more encouraging words than judgemental
- Considering why critical of actions or behaviour- that is very different to bring critical. It opens up the opportunity to serve more clearly what is happening. Are you holding yourself accountable for your actions or that of others? If you made a mistake what can you learn from it, what could you do to avoid it. Is the criticism masking another emotion, like sadness, shame or anger?
Instead of spending energy and time on bring critical, you can be supportive to yourself. And let’s be clear, this isn’t about not being accountable or not motivating yourself. In facts the opposite, it’s about gentle assertiveness and encouragement to be live by your values and be the best version of yourself you can be.
And that is why this is number 1 as I can’t think of a better gift you can give to yourself or the world.
Hope you enjoyed my top ten of CFT and living with more self-compassion. Did I miss something you really like – love to hear, either via social media or on the blog.
Take care of yourself,
Acknowledgements to the artists whose song titles I have used – David Bowie, De La Soul, Queens of The Sone Age, Kraftwerk and ELO.
Image via Pixabay.