Ever wonder why you have a hard time trusting yourself? Why you you have a hard time making a decision? Why you have such a harsh inner voice? Perhaps you grew up in an invalidating environment.
According to Marsha Linehan, the creator of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, "an invalidating environment is one in which communication of private experiences is met by erratic, inappropriate, and extreme responses", such as punishment or ignoring.
Chronic invalidation during childhood can have a significant impact on an individual's mental health and well-being as an adult. When a person's thoughts, feelings, and experiences are dismissed, ignored, or judged repeatedly it can lead to the development of negative beliefs about oneself and one's experiences, as well as difficulties with trust, self-esteem, and emotional regulation. It can also increase the risk of developing mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety.
Ooooh, easier said than done, for sure, but quite worth it!
Self compassion helps individuals to be kind and understanding towards themselves when they are experiencing difficult thoughts, emotions, and experience. This can lead to a reduction in negative self-criticism and an increase in positive self-regard. Research has shown that self-compassion is associated with lower levels of depression, anxiety, and stress, as well as increased well-being, happiness and life satisfaction. Here's a Stanford study.
Self-compassion can INCREASE accountability by helping people recognize and acknowledge their mistakes and shortcomings without becoming overwhelmed by feelings of self-criticism and shame. When individuals are self-compassionate, they are able to view their mistakes and failures as part of the human experience, rather than as a reflection of their personal worth. This allows them to take responsibility for their actions without becoming overly self-critical. Self-compassion can also help individuals to learn from their mistakes by encouraging them to be honest with themselves about what went wrong, without becoming paralyzed by self-doubt or fear of failure. By taking this approach, self-compassion can help individuals to develop a more resilient and growth-oriented mindset, which can lead to better problem-solving skills and improved decision-making. More on that.
Self-compassion will not make someone less productive because it actually promotes a sense of motivation and engagement. Self-compassion allows individuals to understand their mistakes and shortcomings without feeling overwhelmed by self-criticism and shame, which can lead to feelings of hopelessness and demotivation. Instead, self-compassion provides a sense of emotional support, which helps individuals to be more resilient and persistent in their efforts to achieve their goals.
Additionally, self-compassion promotes a growth mindset, which encourages individuals to focus on the process of learning and self-improvement, rather than the outcome. This can lead to a more positive and proactive approach to problem-solving, which can ultimately increase productivity.
Self-compassion also allows individuals to take a balanced view of their performance, which can help them to maintain a healthy work-life balance and avoid burnout. By being kinder to oneself, individuals are less likely to experience feelings of stress, anxiety and depression, which can negatively impact productivity. Instead, self-compassion can lead to better mental and physical well-being, which can enhance overall productivity and effectiveness.
An exercise to start thinking more compassionately.
The 4 Stages of Self-Soothing
When clients are working on feeling, understanding, processing, and soothing their feels I often recommend, Tara Brach's RAIN practice, a mindfulness technique that helps individuals recognize, allow, investigate, and nurture their inner experiences.
The acronym RAIN stands for:
R - Recognize what is happening
A - Allow the experience to be there, without trying to change it
I - Investigate with curiosity and openness
N - Nurture with self-compassion
The practice encourages individuals to become more aware of their thoughts, emotions, and bodily sensations, and to approach them with a non-judgmental attitude. By investigating these experiences with curiosity and openness, individuals can gain insight into their patterns of thinking and feeling, and cultivate self-compassion and self-acceptance. She has a free recording of this practice on her website.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is an evidence-based treatment that has been found to be effective for individuals who have difficulty regulating their emotions. There are several reasons why DBT is effective for emotional regulation:
A wildly oversimplified example of how one might apply their DBT skills IRL.
Below is a hypothetical example of how one might use the DBT Skills Stop, TIPP, WiseMind, and DearMan.
Stop stands for Stop, Take a breath, Observe, and Proceed mindfully. It's a skill that helps individuals to manage intense emotional experiences, by allowing them to take a moment to pause and gain a new perspective before reacting impulsively. Here's a video.
TIPP stands for Temperature, Intense Exercise, Paced Breathing, and Progressive muscle relaxation. It is a skill that helps individuals to regulate their physiological state and emotional arousal in order to manage intense emotional experiences, such as anger, anxiety, or panic.
Temperature: It's a technique to change your internal temperature, by drinking cold or hot water, or put a cold pack or a hot pack on the part of the body where you feel the sensation of the emotion.
Intense Exercise: Physical activity is a powerful way to release pent-up energy, reduce stress, and improve mood. Engaging in intense exercise can help to reduce feelings of anxiety, anger, or depression.
Paced Breathing: When you're feeling anxious, angry or stressed, your breathing can become shallow and rapid, which can make you feel more anxious. Paced breathing is a way to slow and deepen your breath, which can help to calm your body and mind.
Progressive muscle relaxation: This technique involves tensing and relaxing different muscle groups in the body, which can help to release tension and relax the body.
By using TIPP skill, individuals can learn to regulate their physiological state in order to manage intense emotions and improve their ability to cope with stress. It's a powerful tool for managing intense emotions and reducing stress.
Here's a video.
In DBT, it is said that people have different states of mind, such as emotional mind, rational mind and wise mind.
Emotional mind is a state of mind where emotions are the main driver for the behavior and decisions.
Rational mind is where logical thinking is the main driver.
Wise mind, on the other hand, is the state where rational thinking and emotions are balanced and integrated, allowing the individual to make decisions that are grounded in both logic and emotional understanding. It's the state of mind where the person is able to make the best decisions in their life.
Here's a video.
The DEARMAN technique is a way for individuals to build assertiveness skills and to communicate in an effective way. It can be used in situations where one feels uncomfortable or unsupported in expressing themselves.
Here's a video.
The goal of DBT is to help individuals by teaching them skills to regulate their emotions, increase nervous system regulation, improve their cognitive flexibility and increase their mindfulness. This can help them to make better decisions, solve problems more effectively, and improve their overall well-being.
Stephanie Bain, LMFT
***Resources are not a substitute for therapy and are not intended for making diagnoses or providing treatment. Not all practices and tools are suitable for every person. Please discuss exercises, practices, and tools with your individual therapist or health care provider.