Addressing Old Ways of Coping With Stress
In my years of using Self-Compassion therapy, people often come in with stress patterns or consistent ways of encountering and responding to stress. If I begin to talk about self-compassion to soon, they retire to a hopeless place, deftly painting the backdrop to past failures.
It makes sense. Self-Compassion seems obvious and easy (even though it is not), and asking someone to try something new too quickly makes them feel like a failure. For true change to happen, you need to work with someone for long enough that you become a team, so that suggestions for further action come from a place of trust and a respect for each other’s lived experience and wisdom.
Once this trust is built and we being to work on self-compassion, the most common challenge amongst those who experience frequent stress (which describes most of us) is that our long, historical stress responses are too overpowering to employ self-compassion.
Mostly, this problem is worked out once I advise patients to let those reactions come up, and to sit with them objectively and kindly without feeling that they need to respond to them in any way. Making space for self-compassion is a progressive process. Much like re-decorating a house. You cannot just pick a house up and turn it over, then fill it up with new items. You must take your time in moving things out, and slowly move the new things you want in.
Hey This Is Your Heart! The Love Interrupt Intervention
Still, some people go weeks without finding any success, and this is usually do to a tendency towards obsessive behavior, a low tolerance to change, history of abuse, or heightened anxiety. So, I came up with a solution: The Love Interrupt.
When stress arrives, you sit with your natural but ineffective solutions, then you intervene in a kind but active way. You say, “Hey, this is your heart! Time to let some compassion in.” Then, you let your feelings pass, and begin to understand how the stress has served you and how it has not. You acknowledge how others like yourself also suffer with stress, and you find a way to be kind to yourself. In time, you will need less intentional advocacy to get your heart involved.
Simplicity Is Key
The importance of this intervention is that it is simple, and can be done without anyone’s awareness but your own. So, it can be practiced anywhere, and it can be practiced a lot. We all need varying degrees of support to move away from old coping skills to new ones. Do not be ashamed at all if this intervention is a fit for you.
The Gift Of Obsession
People, who have a tendency to be obsessive are the best artists, the best doctors, the best lawyers, the best caretakers and parents. They miss very few details, and almost always deliver extraordinary results. Acknowledge the strengths that come with all of your parts, honor them, and use what is necessary to prevent them from negatively affecting your health. If you were an athlete, you would not skip massages, stretching, or braces. So, allow yourself to use all the resources available to you that allow you to live a good life.
365 Days Of Kindness. Day 106. In The Books.