Author: Katie Leoni, Psy.D.
In this blog series, we will introduce you to the topic of self-compassion and provide you with ways to practice self-compassion on your own.
What is Self-Compassion?
Dr. Kristin Neff is one of the leading world experts in the field of self-compassion, having been the person to operationally define and begin to study self-compassion over ten years ago. Through her pioneering work, she has developed a solid understanding of what self-compassion is, how it can help you, and ways to utilize it in everyday life. On her website, she states that “self-compassion involves acting the same way [as you would toward another person] towards yourself when you are having a difficult time, fail, or notice something you don’t like about yourself.” It involves noticing that you are suffering, responding to your own pain with a caring, warm approach, and acknowledging that suffering is a part of life and you are only human. It essentially means that you honor your human experience.
We often treat our loved ones kinder than we do ourselves. Tuning into how we respond to others sufferings can help us to identify ways that we can turn that compassion towards ourselves. Can you think back to the last time your loved one went through a difficult time or had a tough day (i.e. break-up, poor performance review etc.)? What did you say to them? Chances are it was something supportive, soothing, kind, and compassionate, something along the lines of “I notice you’re in pain, I am here for you, and it’s okay to feel this way” as opposed to “Get over it, you’re not allowed to feel that way, quit being a baby.” Notice the difference between those two responses? The first one is a compassionate stance, the second one is not.
The Difference Between Self-Esteem and Self-Compassion
Self-esteem and self-compassion are not the same thing. Self-esteem refers to our sense of worth and it is ingrained in our brains, it’s how we feel about ourselves. If you get an A on a test, you feel good. If you get an F on a test, you feel bad. Self-esteem is fragile and depends on how you’re doing in life and what you are accomplishing. Self-compassion is a stable sense of worthiness regardless of what is going on in your life. Whatever grade you get on a test, you are a worthy person. According to Dr. Kristin Neff, “research indicates that in comparison to self-esteem, self-compassion is associated with greater emotional resilience, more accurate self-concepts, more caring relationship behavior, as well as less narcissism and reactive anger.”
Three Components of Self-Compassion
If you’re interested in learning more about self-compassion and ways that it can be incorporated into your life, please contact us for a free phone consultation. Stay tuned for part 2 of this series where you learn different ways to practice self-compassion.
Author: Kari Kagan, Psy.D.
Learning how to effectively communicate with others can be one of the most challenging and rewarding skills a person can learn in their lifetime. Even people who consider themselves “easy to get along with” or a “people person,” are at risk for getting caught up in the heat of a moment and not being able to communicate effectively and clearly. For this reason, it could be useful to have a “go-to” skill that can help to provide some guidance during interpersonal interactions that could easily go awry. Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) offers a few different skills to help increase interpersonal effectiveness, but this article will focus on one that can be particularly useful for navigating conflicts, refusing a request by someone, and making a request of someone. The skill is called “DEAR MAN,” and I will go through the acronym and examples of how to use the skill below.
Example: Betty and Joe have been married for five years. They are trying to spend more quality time together so make plans to go on a dinner date on a Friday night. Betty arrives at the restaurant on time and Joe is not there. She waits at the table without ever hearing from Joe. He eventually shows up 30 minutes late. They proceed with dinner but Betty is distracted. She decides to talk to him about it later that night…
Joe, I would like to talk to you about when you were 30 minutes late to dinner tonight.
When you show up late, I feel sad and unimportant. Quality time is important to maintaining relationships and I feel worried that if we don’t prioritize it, we will grow distant.
I would like you to commit to showing up on time to future dates. If you can’t make it on time, please call me with advanced notice to let me know when you plan to get there.
Doing your best to show up on time and to prioritize quality time with me would mean a lot to me and make me feel closer to you. I think it will also improve our relationship in the long-term.
In our example, if Joe starts to point out times that Betty has been late or when he felt deprioritized for some other reason, we want Betty to stay focused on the current situation instead of getting locked into a battle of who has done what to whom. For example, Betty could say, “I understand that I am not perfect either and would be happy to discuss that another time. For now, I am still asking that you try your best to be on time or inform me if you will be running late.”
In our example, Betty should make direct eye contact with Joe, sit up straight, and have a firm tone in her voice that lets him know that she is confident in what she is asking for and that it is a reasonable request.
In our example, Joe does not feel he can commit to calling with advance notice if he is running late as he has a job that requires him to be in meetings that prohibit him from calling. In this situation, Betty might ask Joe, “What do you think we should do here? How can we solve this problem?” In the end, they come up with a solution that works for both of them, which is for Joe to send a text if he is unable to call.
The DEAR MAN skill is a great strategy to help you navigate difficult interpersonal interactions and to help get your needs met. If you would like to learn more skills for communicating effectively, please reach out to us for a free phone consultation.
Diana Gordon, Psy.D., Kari Kagan Psy.D., and Katie Leoni, Psy.D.
Drs. Gordon, Kagan, and Leoni practice psychotherapy in downtown San Francisco and Oakland. Their areas of expertise include anxiety, sleep, stress, depression, and addiction. They blog about these topics to provide research-based information about common problems and strategies to help manage them.