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Official Thread Section 3.1 Generate Self Compassion

Discussion in 'Alan Gordon TMS Recovery Program' started by Walt Oleksy, Jun 5, 2014.

  1. Walt Oleksy

    Walt Oleksy Beloved Grand Eagle

    This is the official thread for Section 3.1 of the TMS Recovery Program donated by Alan Gordon of the Pain Psychology Center (PPC). This section is entitled "Generate Self Compassion." Neither Alan nor the PPC necessarily endorses this thread or any of the viewpoints presented in it.

    Please keep these official threads on topic and put your best thoughts down, as these threads will be read by many people. All posts in this thread should all relate to section 3.1 of the TMS Recovery Program:

    Section 3.1 marks the beginning of Part II of the TMS Recovery Program. In his introduction to Part II, Alan writes the following:
    Part II

    Part II focuses on what’s going on underneath the surface. Often the abusive or neglectful way that we treat ourselves, consciously and unconsciously, can lead to the development of symptoms.

    The underlying message of Part II can be summed up in four words: be nice to yourself.

    Of course you’ve probably heard this many times, and it’s about as useful as telling you to grow six inches or change your eye color. What I aim to outline is how you may be treating yourself cruelly, show you what it looks like, and teach you what you can do to change that.​

    In section 3.1, Alan writes the following:
    Generate Self Compassion

    Before getting into it, I’d like you listen to a segment of a session I had with Brandon during one of the TMS webinars. Brandon beats himself up, pressures himself, and scares himself. But what’s most alarming is that he doesn’t seem to care. If you’re not invested in how you’re being treated, it’s a lot harder to change that behavior.

    Pay particular attention to the stance that Brandon takes toward himself, and to the shift in his attitude over the span of eleven minutes:

    Listen to Alan's session with Brandon

    Click here to download the mp3 audio

    Around the 9 minute mark, Brandon starts to care that he treats himself poorly. It matters to him. Essentially, he begins to generate self-compassion. This is so important, because you need to care about the fact that you’re suffering before you can really work toward changing it.

    The following technique can be helpful in generating self-compassion: Exercise in Generating Self Compassion

    Some people have posted on the Support Forum recently with the problem of generating self compassion. They admit they are perfectionists and have trouble with the expectations of their bosses or coworkers. I have had this problem in the past and still have it, but have been learning not to push myself as hard as I have been, to meet the expectations and deadlines others impose on me and that I impose on myself. I pace myself better now, doing what I can in the time I have each day for each of the projects on my plate. That’s all we should expect of ourselves. And take breaks to get up and away from a project, especially as it stresses us. Take a walk, empty the garbage, do some deep breathing, meditation, tapping. Then we can go back to a project and, remembering not to pressure ourselves to do more and more, we can accomplish more without stressing ourselves.

    I especially liked the technique in the exercise that suggested looking at photos of myself as a child and at other times. I have an old photo of me at the age of about four, sitting with my brother who was about eight. He used to be mean to me, but not when that photo was taken. We were pals in the photo and it reminded me of the times when we had fun together and not when he threw me on the couch and stomped on my stomach with both his feet.

    Image1 - 3.1 Generate Self Compassion.jpg

    I also looked at my college graduation photo and I enjoyed reliving those days working on the school newspaper. And that I looked so young! My college years were some of my happiest, when I was away from home and had new friends and achieved a lot, from my own hard work.

    Image2 - 3.1 Generate Self Compassion.jpg

    Both photos make me feel good about myself.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 5, 2014
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  2. Msunn

    Msunn Well known member

    Great subject. I think one of the most important and helpful concepts I've learned here is self compassion.

    I've always had perfectionist qualities and I expected a lot of myself especially in regards to playing music, comparing myself to others and coming up short, having impossible to achieve standards etc. Maybe it's not surprising that my hands were affected by TMS! I kind of hate to admit all that in print but I do believe I'm only as sick as my secrets:) so I might as well be open and honest.

    Recently I read a great book on self compassion: Self Compassion Stop Beating Yourself Up and Leave Insecurity Behind by Kristen Neff. She also has some great Ted Talks. She makes the point that self compassion is different from high self esteem. With self esteem it's many times tied to a goal or achievement, but self compassion can be practiced no matter what's going on in my life.

    I realized I'd been applying some of that same demanding intensity to trying to heal from TMS. Others have healed in a few weeks why not me? I must be doing something wrong. I need to try harder. I'm sure some of you can relate.

    At that point I stopped making the goal to be free of symptoms but rather to have compassion and kindness for myself. If TMS is there for the rest of my life, I can still be kind to myself. If I can't continue to play music for a living, it will be ok and I can have compassion for myself. I'm aging. I can't change that but I can soften and accept it. Since that time I've seen a big improvement in my symptoms, which I'm very grateful for.

    I think a trap for me is to declare or demand that I'm healed because when I do that I seem to set myself up for TMS to come back with a vengeance, so for the time being I can notice that my hands have been doing much better over the last several weeks, but my goal is still acceptance of whatever is going on and compassion and kindness for myself. TMS will last as long as it lasts.

    As I've been doing this I find that some of the standard techniques such as brain talk, reading the daily reminders, all work better since I'm not as tense or demanding.

    Another helpful author for me is Christopher Germer http://www.mindfulselfcompassion.org/ He has some free guided meditations on his site that have helped me a lot and a great book: The Mindful path to Self Compassion

    Going through TMS is very challenging and stressful. I think we all deserve self compassion and to be kind to ourselves.
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2014
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  3. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    At that point I stopped making the goal to be free of symptoms but rather to have compassion and kindness for myself. If TMS is there for the rest of my life, I can still be kind to myself. If I can't continue to play music for a living, it will be ok and I can have compassion for myself. I'm aging. I can't change that but I can soften and accept it. Since that time I've seen a big improvement in my symptoms, which I'm very grateful for.

    .As I've been doing this I find that some of the standard techniques such as brain talk, reading the daily reminders, all work better since I'm not as tense or demanding.

    Thank you Msunn. As I read your words (and Walt's) I really feel a softness and attunement to self. To me that is pure gold. It is what we have always wanted. To be seen and felt in our suffering, without rejection.

    I teach something called Empathic Statements that I learned from psychologist Rod Birney. These, in my opinion take Kristen Neff's work to an even more refined level. They don't consciously soothe as much as they attune to our suffering right where we are. We say to ourselves: “You are really afraid right now, and this is hard for you,” for instance. This is, interestingly, even more soothing than attempting to soothe.

    All our lives we have wanted to be seen in our suffering. As children our parents could not tolerate really being with us in our deepest suffering. They turned away to protect themselves. At best, they often wanted us to “feel better” when we hurt. As children, we took this to mean that our suffering (fear, loneliness, pain, hurt, failure, etc) was rejected. We were rejected for suffering. So we suffered and on top of that we were not held, or felt in our suffering. This is how we parent ourselves moment-to-moment.

    The only antidote is, as an adult to develop self-attunement, and Alan is right to teach that it starts by seeing how we are self-rejecting. Then compassion can arise. Compassion is a natural outflow when we feel the depth of our suffering. And when a deep level of self compassion arises, it holds our suffering in such attunement that everything is alright, even if it doesn't match our ideas about reality (as you put so well Msunn).

    TMS is a deep form of suffering. And it is partly caused by self-rejection/super ego activity. I really appreciate that Alan and others address this so carefully. To me, Self Empathy is a life-long practice, and if TMS symptoms open one to this practice, it is a (sort of) blessing.
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  4. tarala

    tarala Well known member

    I agree it's a blessing, though it's taken me a really long time to see that. I've found all of Alan's stuff to be incredibly helpful. My latest insight is realizing how often I repeat to myself what was my mother's response whenever I was experiencing anger, fear, or sadness: it's no big deal. Dismissal of my emotions is exactly the opposite of self compassion, and I have done it all my life. And with my kids, I think I went overboard the other way-- rushing in to "save" them from their negative emotions, which I'm coming to see is not compassion at all.
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  5. Alan Gordon LCSW

    Alan Gordon LCSW TMS Therapist

    I've often seen with clients that the line between self-abuse and self-compassion is thinner than you might think. Sometimes it just starts with a decision: "I'm not going to do that to myself anymore." Once you get a little momentum going, treating yourself nicely can turn into a routine.
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  6. Walt Oleksy

    Walt Oleksy Beloved Grand Eagle

    Alan, a woman today posted about low self-esteem. I replied with this quote I just found:

    "Oh, God, I struggle with low self-esteem all the time! I think everyone does. I have so much wrong with me, it’s unbelievable!"

    -- Angelina Jolie

    (You know she's one of the top movie actresses today and makes about $10 million per movie, and is happily the partner of Brad Pitt and the mother of several adopted foreign children.)
  7. cirrusnarea

    cirrusnarea Well known member

    It seems like this part of the program is where I really need to be right now. I'm having a lot of trouble developing self-compassion. I have put a lot of pressure on myself to achieve a lot in my life and have not been successful. I went to business school even though I have a passion for music, thinking it would be the more practical route to take. However, I've turned out to be fairly incompetent in this field, and worst of all is it has no interest for me. I'm trying to work on my music in my spare time now, depression, low self esteem, laziness, and pain are really getting in my way though. I can see how I am putting a lot of pressure on myself, just like Brandon in the example. I think I have tied my self worth to my success throughout my life. I guess my first step would be to have compassion for myself regardless of my achievements.
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  8. Gigalos

    Gigalos Beloved Grand Eagle

    Every time I feel I am criticizing myself, I use this affirmation:

    'I accept myself, I appreciate myself, I love myself'.

    For me personally it works wonders. I feel it works in two ways: a) it slowly changes your usual way of thinking and b) it stops a negative thought dead in its tracks, you simply don't give it a chance to pull you down.
  9. Walt Oleksy

    Walt Oleksy Beloved Grand Eagle

    Cirrusnarea, the main thing is to enjoy working on your music, and not to pressure yourself to be a pro.
    And Gigalos, I like your affirmation mantra. It's a great one to print out and keep handy like at your computer.
  10. tigerlilly

    tigerlilly Well known member

    Really excellent thoughts posted above. To add to these thoughts, this wonderful article on the words we choose, by Dr. Habib Sadeghi showed up in my inbox. The thoughts marry perfectly with this thread on showing ourselves self-compassion.

    By Dr. Habib Sadeghi
    Words have power. Their meaning crystallizes perceptions that shape our beliefs, drive our behavior, and ultimately, create our world. Their power arises from our emotional responses when we read, speak, or hear them. Just say the word "fire" while barbequing, or in the workplace, or in a crowded theater, and you’ll get three completely different but powerful emotional and energetic reactions.

    Quantum physics long ago determined that physical matter doesn’t really exist, that everything is just energy in different states of vibration. Nobel Prize winning physicist Werner Heisenberg once stated, "Atoms or elementary particles themselves are not real; they form a world of potentialities or possibilities, rather than one of things or facts." This energy vibrates at an infinite number of subtle frequencies that cause it to appear as all the different creations we see in our world. There has been a great deal of research in recent years as to whether the universe we live in is actually a holographic experience, and it seems that this is very close to the truth.

    And so, it seems life is more of an energy flow than a collection of solid things. What that means for us is that if we stay conscious of the energy we contain, based on the emotions we feel, we can make deliberate choices that alter our frequency and create the realities we desire. If we’re feeling down about something, we can choose to reframe the situation and raise our own spirits. With a renewed perspective and a higher, more positive energetic vibration, we stand a much better chance of bringing good into our lives, rather than bitterly repeating old mistakes.

    Words are extremely powerful tools that we can use to uplift our personal energy and improve our lives, though we’re often not conscious of the words we speak, read, and expose ourselves to. Yes, even the words of others can easily affect our personal vibration. Spend a few minutes with a chronic complainer who uses all sorts of negative terms, and you’ll feel your personal energy bottom out. Words have great power, so choose them (and your friends) wisely!

    Japanese scientist, Masaru Emoto performed some of the most fascinating experiments on the effect that words have on energy in the 1990’s. When frozen, water that’s free from all impurities will form beautiful ice crystals that look exactly like snowflakes under a microscope. Water that’s polluted, or has additives like fluoride, will freeze without forming crystals. In his experiments, Emoto poured pure water into vials labeled with negative phrases like "I hate you" or "fear." After 24 hours, the water was frozen, and no longer crystallized under the microscope: It yielded gray, misshapen clumps instead of beautiful lace-like crystals. In contrast, Emoto placed labels that said things like "I Love You," or "Peace" on vials of polluted water, and after 24 hours, they produced gleaming, perfectly hexagonal crystals. Emoto’s experiments proved that energy generated by positive or negative words can actually change the physical structure of an object. The results of his experiments were detailed in a series of books beginning with The Hidden Messages in Water, where you can see the astounding before and after photos of these incredible water crystals.

    In another experiment, Emoto tested the power of spoken words. He placed two cups of cooked white rice in two separate mason jars and fixed the lids in place, labeling one jar "Thank You" and the other, "You Fool." The jars were left in an elementary school classroom, and the students were instructed to speak the words on the labels to the corresponding jars twice a day. After 30 days, the rice in the jar that was constantly insulted had shriveled into a black, gelatinous mass. The rice in the jar that was thanked was as white and fluffy as the day it was made. This dramatic example of the power of words is also detailed in Emoto’s books.

    How many times a day do we throw our words away? We say things like, "I hate my hair," "I’m so stupid," "I’m such a klutz." We never think that these words bring negative energy into our vibration and affect us on a physical level, but they do. Emoto’s experiments were conducted with water. Why? Because sound vibration travels through water four times faster than it does through open air. Consider the fact that your body is over 70% water and you’ll understand how quickly the vibration from negative words resonates in your cells. Ancient scriptures tell us that life and death are in the power of the tongue. As it turns out, that’s not a metaphor.

    Some of us are in the habit of using the same negative words over and over again out of habit. The problem is that the more we hear, read, or speak a word or phrase, the more power it has over us. This is because the brain uses repetition to learn, searching for patterns and consistency as a way to make sense of the world around us. Only after being burned a few times can we understand that fire is always hot. You may not remember the exact end date of the Civil War, but odds are you still know what 8 x 9 is because you had to repeat your multiplication tables over and over again, drilling it into your consciousness. I’m sure you’ve experienced having a song stuck in your head all day long, and try as you might, you just can’t get the melody out of your head. Repetition is the most powerful tool to imprint something into our minds and keep it there.

    This is of particular concern when we consider a phenomenon called the Illusion of Truth Effect. It basically proves that any statement we read, see, or speak regularly is seen as more valid than one we’re exposed to only occasionally. Amazingly, it makes no difference whether the information is true or false. The only thing that matters is how often we’re exposed to it. Research from the University of California at Santa Barbara clearly shows that a weak message repeated twice becomes more valid than a strong message heard only once. Even one repetition has the power to change our minds. The same goes for pictures, which are just thoughts and ideas concentrated into an image. Repetition increases our mental validation of anything we’re exposed to, which is why it works so well in political propaganda.

    If we’re not fully conscious of what we’re exposing ourselves to, consistency will trump truth every time. Now consider how many times you’ve falsely called yourself stupid, untalented, ugly, or anything else, and you begin to understand how your internal propaganda shapes a false self-image.

    Here is the link from GOOP where I found the article: http://www.goop.com/journal/go/286/..._term=0_5ad74d5855-eb96c5b3eb-97276#besection
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  11. Colly

    Colly Beloved Grand Eagle

    I have a reminder on my phone that goes off about five minutes before I walk into the office each day. It simply says "Self-compassion". I think about the day ahead, knowing it will be difficult (teething problems on a new project), and I think to myself "just do your best Colly", and "stay relaxed despite the chaos", and I do, generally!

    I am happy with the new person I have become through having TMS, as I now have the daily self-awareness to keep negative chatter in check; something I was oblivious to before.

    As Louise Hay says in her book 'You can heal your life':

    "Loving the self begins with never ever criticising ourselves for anything. Criticism locks us into the very pattern we are trying to change. Understanding and being gentle with ourselves helps us to move out of it. Remember, you have been criticising yourself for years, and it hasn't worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens"
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  12. Walt Oleksy

    Walt Oleksy Beloved Grand Eagle

    Colly, those new threads you posted look very interesting.
    It will take me a while to read and think about them.

    Hope all is going well for you.
  13. Colly

    Colly Beloved Grand Eagle

    Cirrusnarea, you sound like you're being very hard on yourself. Give yourself some credit for being willing to be frank with yourself about your strengths and competencies.

    We shouldn't all measure success by the success in business and wealth accumulation. Some people make a great contribution to the community and their friends around them through the warmth and energy they bring as individuals. That's an achievement in itself. It's important to think of the good qualities you have and recognise those. Your contribution on this forum for example, has helped many of us, and we are very grateful to you for your participation.

    As far as your success in business, try not to dwell on how you measure up, just do your best. We all have self doubt when it comes to work - you're not alone.

    Walt, all good here in chilly Melbourne:)
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  14. Walt Oleksy

    Walt Oleksy Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi, Colly and Cirrusnarea. I always mentally thank our garbage truck man for picking up the trash. I should probably tell him in person.
    He and so many others are in jobs that keep us healthy and clean or protect our lives and homes. We all do our part, all laborers in the Lord's vineyard.
    He doesn't consider our work sour grapes, no matter what it is. And Cirrusnarea, think how lucky you are to be able to work on music in your spare time.
  15. Colly

    Colly Beloved Grand Eagle

  16. Walt Oleksy

    Walt Oleksy Beloved Grand Eagle

    A good video, Colly.
    My house is a small ranch and all around me are mansions that reach into the sky and could
    house sixteen Asian families. I don't envy the owners and am very happy in my little house,
    so success to me is not about houses or big and new cars (I drive a 2001 Saturn) and figure it
    does what other cars are supposed to... go forward and backward, and can make turns.

    A little can go a long way.

    My dog is napping beside me as I write. I am happy.
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  17. yb44

    yb44 Beloved Grand Eagle

    I have to remind myself of this on a constant basis. Self-compassion didn't come naturally to me but I have planted the seed and am watering it daily.
    Msunn likes this.
  18. BrianC

    BrianC Well known member

    I tried to love myself for quite a while, but I didn't quite understand how to do it. I tried to be good to myself, but no one had shown me how to love myself unconditionally. So, I continued to struggle.

    Finally, I got ahold of The Presence Process book by Michael Brown (Revised Edition). It lead me gently through a ten-week experiential journey of integrating emotions that were causing me not to be able to love myself properly, and causing me to not be happy, and causing my illnesses and pain. It also lead me through what it is to love myself unconditionally in order to integrate those painful emotions.

    Since completing my first ten-week Presence Process, I'm a lot happier and freer now. My health is better. I feel emotions a lot better, and I'm even excited about feeling my painful emotions I used to want to push away. Sometimes, when I feel the painful emotions like grief or anger, I start to feel really happy or peaceful.

    It was really simple to love myself. I just had to feel my emotions unconditionally. That means I don't try to get rid of them, and I don't distract myself from them, and I don't do things to stuff them. I just accept them as they are, 100%, while they're surfacing. Eventually, they integrate, and I have more peace and joy. As long as I don't react to them with unhealthy behavior, but instead respond with healthy behavior, the emotions don't get stuffed again, causing more suffering. My suffering was from resisting feeling painful emotions. Now, feeling emotions is great. Tough at times, but great, nonetheless.

    I highly recommend The Presence Process for anyone who wants to learn how to truly love him or her self unconditionally. Health issues will eventually work their way out once you take care of the cause--the emotions.
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  19. Fabi

    Fabi Well known member

    I was really moved by this statement. Thanks for posting it, I really have a bad time treating myself nicely. I just don´t realize what I do to myself when I do it. And it´s not because my mind didn´t know these concepts before, it´s because I had not experienced them earlier.
  20. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Fabi,

    I love that you had the experience! For me this can be a felt body sense of warmth and self-contact. This approach has been so helpful for me and my clients. For many people it takes some preparation work to allow this, because it is not putting a band-aid on things. You have to feel. Once learned, it is always there for you, no matter the difficulty.

    Andy B.
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