The Power of Self-Compassion

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The Power of Self-Compassion is based on the groundbreaking new compassion-focused therapy (CFT), developed by foreword writer Paul Gilbert. This book helps readers move beyond traditional ideas about self-esteem, and gives them the tools needed to overcome shame, self-criticism, and self-doubt, so that they can build self-confidence and improve the overall quality of their lives.

Text of The Power of Self-Compassion

Publishers NoteThis publication is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is sold with the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering psychological, financial, legal, or other professional services. If expert assistance or counseling is needed, the services of a competent professional should be sought. Distributed in Canada by Raincoast BooksCopyright 2013 by Mary Welford New Harbinger Publications, Inc. 5674 Shattuck Avenue Oakland, CA 94609 www.newharbinger.comFirst published in the UK by Constable. An imprint of Constable & Robinson Ltd.Cover design by Amy ShoupAcquired by Tesilya HanauerEdited by Brady KahnAll Rights ReservedLibrary of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data on filePrinted in the United States of America14 13 1210 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1First printingUncorrected ProofContentsForeword viiiPreface xiii Hov to Usc This Book1Scll Conliocncc Is Soncthing Wc Builo ano aintain, Not Soncthing Wc Havc 1 Whcic Docs It All Stait~ Thc liist Sccict ol Builoing Scll Conliocncc: Bcvaic ol Youi vn Unocinining Thc Sccono Sccict ol Builoing Scll Conliocncc: Scll Conpassion Conclusions2Unocistanoing thc Inpact ol Lvolution n Us ui Lnotion Fcgulation Systcns Cicating ano aintaining Balancc: lhysiothciapy loi thc Biain ConclusionsUncorrected Proofiv From Self-Esteem to Self Confidence3Hov ano Why Wc Unocininc uisclvcs ano Hov Conpassion Can Hclp 1 Hov Shanc Unocinincs ui Scll Conliocncc Hov vcistiiving ano lcilcctionisn Can Unocininc ui Scll Conliocncc Hov Scll Ciiticisn Unocinincs ui Scll Conliocncc Hopc in thc Shapc ol thc Biain`s Anazing Alilitics Conclusions4aking Scnsc ol ui Lxpciicnccs 41 ui Inllucnccs: Natuic ano Nuituic Kcy Conccins ano lcais Coping Stiatcgics ano Thcii Conscqucnccs lutting All thc Llcncnts Togcthci: A loinulation Conclusions5What Is Conpassion~ o2 Tiaoitional Vicvs ol Conpassion Thc Conpassionatc ino Appioach to Conpassion Conpassionatc Attiilutcs Skills ol thc Conpassionatc inosct Hov Conpassionatc Attiilutcs ano Skills lit Togcthci Hov to Cain Conpassionatc Attiilutcs ano Skills Conclusions6lstaclcs to thc Dcvclopncnt ol Scll Conpassion o Tcn Thoughts That Intcilcic vith liacticing Scll Conpassion Lnotional lstaclcs to Lxpciicncing Scll Conpassion Lnviionncntal lstaclcs to Builoing Scll Conliocncc Ncgotiating thc lstaclcs to Scll Conpassion ConclusionsUncorrected ProofContents v7licpaiing loi Conpassion Using inolulncss 5 inolulncss liollcn Solving Connon Dillicultics vith inolulncss Lxciciscs Hov to Dcvclop a inolulncss Scll liacticc Conclusions8luithci licpaiation loi Conpassion 11o Dcvcloping Youi Soothing Systcn Conclusions9Dcvcloping Youi Conpassionatc ino 122 Dcvcloping Dillcicnt Aspccts ol Youi Conpassionatc inosct Conclusions10Using Conpassionatc Thinking in Fcsponsc to Youi vn Unocinining 14o Unocistanoing Youi Thinking ano thc Vicvs You ay Holo Hov You Can Fcciuit Youi Ncv Biain to Assist You Ccnciating Conpassionatc Altcinativc Thoughts ano Inagcs Chaii Woik Conclusions11Conpassionatc Lcttci Wiiting 1o8Cuioclincs loi Conpassionatc Lcttci Wiiting Cuioing liinciplcs loi Conpassionatc Lcttcis Conpassionatc Lcttci Wiiting liacticcs Fcvicving Youi Conpassionatc Lcttcis Aoaptations to Conpassionatc Lcttci Wiiting ConclusionsUncorrected Proofvi From Self-Esteem to Self Confidence12Taking Action vith Conpassionatc Bchavioi 188Ccnciating lcisonal Coals ano Bicaking Thcn Dovn into anagcallc Stcps licpaiing to Takc Action Doing ano Fcvicving Conclusions13Aooitional Stiatcgics to Hclp Builo Youi Scll Conliocncc 21oAsscitivcncss Stiatcgics aking Sccningly Snall Bchavioial Changcs Savoiing lositivc Lxpciicnccs Acccptancc Using Scll Conpassion to Cuioc Youi Day Using Scll Conpassion in Dillicult Situations Conclusions14Fcllcctions ano lutuic Diicctions 241Looking at Youi Lilc as a Stoiy ol Sticngth ano Fcsilicncc Dcvcloping a Tcnplatc loi Scll liacticc linal ThoughtsFcsouiccs 25o luithci Fcaoing iganizations ano WclsitcsFclcicnccs 25oUncorrected Proofolstaclcs to thc Dcvclopncnt ol Scll ConpassionHow wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world. Anne FrankMany of us have no problem with being compassionate to others, but accepting compassion from others and practicing self- compassion can be a different matter. This can ultimately interfere with building self- confidence.The biggest obstacles preventing us from accepting compassion from others and exercising self- compassion are the views and thoughts we may hold about compassion and about ourselves.Emotional and environmental obstacles can also be very power-ful. For example, feelings of self- compassion may bring up difficult and Uncorrected ProofObstacles to the Development of Self- Compassion 77seemingly surprising emotions and memories that can interfere with the work involved in building self- confidence. You may also find that people who are close to you resist changes youre attempting to make, maybe because they have gotten used to seeing you in a certain way.This chapter will look at some of the obstacles to self- compassion and their potential origins. It will focus on why such obstacles also have an impact on the development of self- confidence. It will then look at some ways to negotiate these obstacles.TLN THUCHTS THAT INTLFlLFL WITH lFACTICINC SLLl ClASSINYou may have thoughts or views that get in the way of practicing self- compassion. Even if you are unaware of any personal resistance to developing self- compassion, you may find it helpful to read through the statements below and note any that resonate with you.1. Scll conpassion is alout scll pity.Pity for others is often viewed as synonymous with looking down from a position of superiority or feeling sorry for someone while pity for the self is often dismissed as wallowing. For many, feeling pity means not acknowledging someones innate strength and resilience; those who are pitied are defined solely by the situation they find themselves in rather than as whole people. If this is how you define pity, then you should know that self- compassion is absolutely not about self- pity. It is, however, important to recognize that different people and cultures view the concept of pity in different ways. For example, Michelangelos Piet is a work of art depicting the mother of Christ holding her dead sons body. When many Italians speak of the sculpture, they reflect that this is the depiction of ultimate love and compassion. Within Italian culture, the word piet has no negative connotation.Uncorrected Proof78 From Self-Esteem to Self Confidence2. Scll conpassion is alout lcing scllish oi scll ccntcico.In fact, self- compassion often brings with it a greater capacity to help oneself and, in turn, others. Having become more self- compassionate, people often report having greater strength to deal with conflicts and to become better friends, parents, and colleagues. Lack of self- compassion, by contrast, means that we are more likely to become immobilized or consumed by our own difficulties and therefore less able to help others.o. You oon`t ocscivc conpassion.Self- compassion can be blocked by the belief that we are not worthy or deserving of it. If you feel you dont deserve compassion, it is likely that you are judging yourself or your actions negatively and experiencing high levels of shame. As previously discussed, this can undermine the development of your self- confidence. If you identify with this, hopefully the work you did in chapter 4, developing an understanding of your journey and the situation you find yourself in now, will have helped you address this belief. Later you will use compassionate imagery to help you review your formulation from chapter 4. A sense of being undeserving can also become the focus of compassionate alternative- thought work-sheets and compassionate letter writing, which will be covered later in this book.For now, however, it may be helpful to think of your own sense of being undeserving of compassion as a fear that is challenging but not overwhelming. Encourage yourself to take things one small step at a time. Ask yourself, What aspect of compassion dont I deserve? and start with the aspects of compassion that you feel you do deserve. Begin slowly. As you work on specific areas, you may find that self- compassion may be a good thing, without the drawbacks you predicted. In other words, you wont suddenly become a bad person, get found out by others, and be humiliated if you practice some aspects of self- compassion. And once the ball is rolling, you may find that you actually want to try out other aspects of self- compassion.If feeling undeserving really is tripping you up, there are two further things you could try. First, you may want to ask someone else if they Uncorrected ProofObstacles to the Development of Self- Compassion 79think you deserve compassion. You should ask someone you trust, such as a family member or a friend, or you may want to seek professional advice from a therapist; your doctor or health professional may be able to recommend someone.4. Youi nccos aic not as inpoitant as othci pcoplc`s.You may put your personal needs (including the need for self- compassion) on the back burner. This is a classic trap many people fall into, but when we perpetually put the needs