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How to develop self compassion?

This is an area I’ve always been stuck with. I’m terrible at it (it was hard to even type the title of this thread!). I rely so much on other people to try and fix the problem, but the moment they stop telling me that it’s ok to have feelings or to not easily achieve all the things at once 110% of the time, it’s back to stage one. Insults and punishment times 9000.


And I just don’t know how to think differently. Sure there’s the whole “would you say that to a friend?” method but I can’t switch to that because insults and punishment mode has innumerable answers to that. It’s like I want someone else there 24/7 to just stop me from beating myself up, except that’s even more fuel for the fire, because how dare I try to drag anyone else into this self-inflicted inferno when it’s not even ok for it to exist in the first place.


Things hurt so much but it’s not ok for that to be the case, it’s not ok to admit it, it’s not ok to say it, or think it, or write it, or to try and be kind to myself about it or try any strategies that might help because it’s weak and a giant fail and shouldn’t be a problem. And no one can even help anyway.


I'm going to make myself regret posting this but I can't deal with this.


Re: How to develop self compassion?

Okay, first of all, @Bay52VU, this is an awesome thread topic. Self-compassion is one of the biggest challenges most people face, in my experience. It's definitely not something I have the hang of yet perfectly yet. I really hope we can find some solutions that work for you, but I'm also just so, so impressed right now at you coming forward and starting this discussion. I know it must have taken huge courage to post this, and I want you to know by opening this up for us all to talk about, you're helping everyone on ReachOut. 


Next, I'm sorry that we haven't hit on strategies that will work for you yet. That does not mean you're broken. You're so right when you say that Bad Brain or negative thought patterns have an answer for everything. It isn't a 'failure' that you can't just give yourself one piece of advice and feel magically okay. It's really, really normal. That said, I know it hurts, and it must be so frustrating to be working so hard and feeling like you're still not where you want to be. 


You say that it 'isn't okay' for you to feel this way, and before we've talked a lot about how you don't feel justified in reaching out for help or in feeling this way to begin with. You know by now, but I'll say it again, that you are always entitled to help and support, and also that your feelings are real and justified and deserve to be heard. But I think you've raised a really important point when you say that the second the people around you stop telling you that, you stop believing it. 


It sounds like your brain has really twisted itself around to make sure you feel bad about yourself. That is tough for you to beat. Depression Brain and Anxiety Brain, their lies are complex and multi-layered and they do have an answer to everything. That's how these diseases feed themselves.


I'm wondering how you normally handle these feelings when they crop up? Do you normally face them head on, or try to avoid feeling them? Do you feel them overwhelm you until you can't do anything else? These might seem like funny questions to ask when in the past we've been working on trying to shore up your self-esteem, but I think sometimes just as important as why we're feeling something can be how we experience that feeling. If it's very triggering for you to talk about how you experience these emotions and thoughts, you don't have to answer (you never have to answer anything, actually!) but it might help us find some strategies to break down those thoughts at the source.

Re: How to develop self compassion?

Hey @Bay52VU, changing up your self talk when you've spent a long time beating yourself up is very challenging stuff. If anything, the first stages of trying to fid a more positive way of talking to yourself can make it feel even worse, because then you're beating yourself up for the fact that you're still beating yourself up! 


What @Kaz-RO said about how depression and anxiety effect your brain is absolutely true, they create really intricate lies that we're very ready to believe. Recognising when you're falling into patterns of negative self talk is an important first step, because even just taking the moment to acknowledge "Hey, I'm being pretty down on myself right now." Creates a little bit of distance mentally that can help you start the process of moving things in a more positive direction. Then after you've done that you might be able to start to ask yourself some question about those thoughts. Where do they come from? What do you know about yourself that tells you that they might not be the whole truth? 


Changing your self talk and treating yourself with compassion can be a really long process, so please don't feel disheartened that it hasn't happened as quickly as you would like. It definitely doesn't mean you're incapable of finding new, healthier ways of talking to yourself, it just means that the patterns you're using now are pretty ingrained and that it might take some time. Rather than trying to do it all at once, maybe you could start off by focusing on a couple of the negative things your tell yourself and try to catch when they pop up during the course of your day. Then you can work your way up to other thoughts and recognising when they rear their heads once you've built up some confidence in handling some of the other ones first.


How does starting with that sound? Let us know how you're doing, you're doing such an awesome job by taking steps towards working on this Smiley Happy

Re: How to develop self compassion?

I know for some people when they start negative self talk it because they are compairing themelves with others. I for one start talking about myself badly when my friend does better at school then i although shes naturally talented, and when i start talking badly about my body its because i compair myself to others body. when i stop compairing myself to others that kinda helps, so if you compair ourself to others, take a step back and 
(i have to go but i shall return and continue what i was saying)

Re: How to develop self compassion?

As i was saying.... (sorry i was in class and the bell rang for hometime) What i find that helps is to stop compairing yourself, and give yourself a pep talk about how its not a competition, You are beautiful the way you are and everyone is unique. ect. This normally works for me, but it also depends on the context. 

Re: How to develop self compassion?

@Kaz-RO I normally try to avoid feeling/thinking them. Usually I try to get straight back to what I was doing and ignore the feeling/thoughts. After a few repeats if that hasn’t worked very well then I might try a short distraction break. But sometimes it gets less and less effective, and yeah I guess ‘overwhelm’ is the right word for it when it just takes over everything I’m doing. Until eventually I can go do something different as a distraction again, or get back to what I was trying to do in the first place.


@Chessca_H One of the starting problems is that I’ve never been able to decide that it’s ok to change my self talk. If/when I notice it being negative, if I even think about challenging it immediately seems like the negative stuff is a good thing and only seems to make me more determined to make it worse. Which I know makes zero sense but that’s what happens every time. The only winning move is not to play, i.e. stop thinking. Ancient movie reference there btw.

the only winning move is not to play

And I swear no one ever seems to understand this or have any other ideas except “well just challenge that too” but oh boy does that not work unless the aim is for things to get way worse in that moment. Sooo yeah I wouldn’t really say I’m doing a very good job with it.


@PeanutJelly148 thanks for your input, and for taking time out of your class to post! I do often compare myself with other people for stuff. That does sound like a good idea for dealing with that sort of thinking, and it’s awesome that it works for you Smiley Happy


Re: How to develop self compassion?

What you're describing sounds bang on-target for very entrenched negative thought patterns, @Bay52VU. I'm sorry that the work we've been doing so far hasn't been working to beat them, but I want you to know that isn't your failure. It just means we haven't hit on the right strategy yet, and maybe it's time to bring out the big guns Smiley Wink


I'm sorry that I've forgotten whether you see a psych irl? I know you've said you find the idea of phone counselling very confronting (which makes total sense).


One of the 'big guns' is Mindfulness practice. It's hard and it will take a lot of tries to get the hang of it, but over time it can be really effective. Don't beat yourself up if it takes you a while to get it, and don't panic that that means it'll 'never work'. It's a skill, like learning to cook or drive. If it screws up the first time, that doesn't mean you are broken or that Mindfulness is useless any more than cars are useless because I still only have my Ls. It just means we need more practice.


The hardest thing in that link is that in order to be mindful, you have to face those scary, awful thoughts, look them square in the eye, and then let them go. You need to let them come into your mind, and that's really counter-intuitive when they hurt so much and you want to just get them out and away from you. Then after you let them in, you need to let them leave. And Depression Brain won't want to let them leave; it'll want to hang onto them tight so it can tell you that you're terrible. There's two separate skills there, and both of them are going to take some practice.


When I do this, I like to set some time aside and go somewhere really quiet and comfortable, somewhere I feel safe. I like to have blankets and cushions and water, and kind of nest for a little while. Then I work hard on my breathing, and once my breathing is good and strong and gives me a kind of 'anchor', I can start letting the thoughts come.


I'm going to warn you that when you do this, you might end up really emotional the first few times. Because you won't be good at letting the thoughts go yet, you might find that they overwhelm you. You might feel teary or even very anxious. That's all really unpleasant, but it doesn't mean you've failed. If that happens, it's totally okay to just stop right there and go distract yourself and work on de-escalating.


Take your time. Do it your way. But you can do this.

Re: How to develop self compassion?

Hey @Kaz-RO thanks for your reply.

No I'm not seeing a psych/counselor.


I'll have a read of those links. I know it's dumb but I'm afraid to try and face the thoughts/feelings. From past experience I know that when it gets overwhelming I get really aggressive and start daring/goading myself into SH or something more permanent, and I'm just scared to try and face that shit.  I know I should still just try it anyway and I hate that I'm sitting here making excuses for not trying but I don't know if I can be properly safe when doing it. I dunno.


Re: How to develop self compassion?

@Bay52VU It's definitely okay to feel scared of this process and if you're worried about self harm or ending your life, then it's worth having a safety plan in place that you can use to get through that bit where you might feel like you've flipped your lid and back to the point where you feel like you can be safe again.


I am wondering however about the way you have faced these thoughts and feelings in the past vs facing them this way do you think this is a little different? Or are you pretty concerned that it's similar enough to have the same impact?

Re: How to develop self compassion?

I dunno @Ben-RO I'm not sure what the difference is

edit: like I get that the mindfulness is supposed to be feeling it but not judging or acting, but if we take the anger as an example, it's not like I usually immediately act on it... but I can't really remember or figure out what normally happens after Ive stopped being abole to ignore it but before the point where I do act on it.