Compassion is not something artificial, like telling yourself you are good at something when you’re not, or that you are a ‘good person’ when you don’t feel as if this is true. Compassion naturally flows once the blocks of shame and self criticism are removed.
“Is that what you would say to your best friend if she were in this situation?” This quick test often changes my critical attitude to myself right around. Compassionate Mind Therapy uses this attitude as key in dealing with all kinds of distress. A compassionate mind is one which doesn’t feel sorry for itself, justify or excuse itself, but just accepts itself with warmth, respect and empathy, the way you do with someone you really love, even when they disagree with you, however they might behave sometimes.
Set up in 2006, the Compassionate Mind Foundation “aims to promote wellbeing through the scientific understanding and application of compassion”. The site reveals a wealth of materials, which I have only scratched the surface of. But I am already convinced that training ourselves not to react out of shame and self criticism, but to treat ourselves as we expect our therapists to treat us, is a very fruitful direction. This compassion is not something artificial, like telling yourself you are good at something when you’re not, or that you are a ‘good person’ when you don’t feel as if this is true. Compassion naturally flows once the blocks of shame and self criticism are removed.
I would say that the Compassionate Mind Foundation’s antidotes to ‘the inner bully’ are most likely to be effective in bringing about healing of many kind of distress on many levels:
- valuing compassion (i.e., not seeing it as a weakness), empathy, sympathy, forgiveness, and acceptance/tolerance,
- developing feelings of warmth, growth, taking responsibility, and
- training (the brain to work along different pathways)
I would also say that it is impossible to feel such compassion for yourself without it automatically extending to include others. The painful division between myself and others disappears, and the world cannot help but become a better place, in a small but very significant way.
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