Dr. Kristin Schaefer-Schiumo| Manhasset NY

Self-Compassion Instead of Self-Criticism

Research is demonstrating very clearly that, in many ways, we are what we think. Focusing on the negative has been linked to increases in mental illness, stress levels, and physical ailments such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular symptoms. The good news is that the opposite is also true. If you can learn to think more positively, you will experience encouraging changes across many areas of your life. One piece of positive thinking is developing true self-compassion. As you go about your day, how many times have you had thoughts such as, "I'm not good enough. I'm lacking in some profound way. This is all my fault?" What this really suggests is that while you are going about your day, you are not truly or fully present. A large part of you is engaged in a running commentary of self-doubt focusing on how you are doing or where you are falling short. More often than not, this leads to profound feelings of sadness, loneliness, or anxiety. So where to begin the process of developing a powerful, unwavering self-compassion? Clinical psychologist Tara Brach outlined one insightful tool, using the acronym RAIN, that I would like to discuss with you. R-is the first step of RECOGNIZING what is happening w here you are. For example, you may come to the place of,"Here is where I beat myself up. Here is where I come from a place of lack or deficiency." A-is the second step of ALLOWING This is the place where you slow down, or pause according to Tara Brach. Allow yourself to just be with the actuality of what is happening right now. Just stay with what is happening around you, stay with the current thoughts. Do not try to hide from what is happening, or run away, or chastise yourself for your reactions. Just be in the moment. I-is the third step of beginning to activate INTIMATE interest or attention. This kind of attention is gentle and kind Here is where you may notice a tightening of your chest, or throat, dizziness, or sweaty palms. As you notice your felt sense, or physical sensations, you may also wonder, "What are the thoughts I am thinking now?" You may realize thinking, "What if people knew how unprepared I am? What if they knew how lacking I am? They would never accept me. Something is wrong with me. I am not good enough. I am unloved." Here is where the connection between a core belief, which is negative and untrue, and a sense of sadness or loneliness becomes very clear. At this point, Tara Brach encourages a gesture of presence and kindness toward what is going on. She suggests this can be as simple as thinking, "I care about what is going on with me, and in me." N-represents NOT IDENTIFIED. Here is the place in which we relate to an experience, are aware of the experience , but do not relate from that experience. Our experiences do not define the truth of who we are, AND we do not relate to others from these experiences any longer. Please feel free to use and practice RAIN. As Tara Brach explains, instead of getting locked into and negatively expanding an emotion, it really helps us bring a presence to an emotion that is really quite healing.