Changing the world is hard work, and it’s easy to get worn down if we don’t find ways to help support ourselves. Some people think that in a world with so many problems, focusing on their own well-being is selfish or indulgent. But here’s the thing – if we go too long allowing ourselves to be stressed and burnt out, we’re not going to go the long haul when it comes to helping others. It’s also important to consider that this is our life, and we’ll be more effective in working for positive change in the world when we are happy, healthy, and invigorated. That’s what this section of the site is about.
Much of my work is in the area of compassion-focused therapy, or CFT. In CFT, we group human emotions into three systems – those that evolved to help our ancestors (and us) identify and respond to threats; those that help motivate us toward goals, keep us working toward them, and which reward us for making progress; and those that help us feel safe, peaceful, and reflective.
Here’s the thing – we aren’t at our best when we’re being run by our threat systems. When we’re under conditions of threat, our thinking, attention, and memory systems focus very narrowly on the threat – which helped our ancestors stay alive! Unfortunately, these threat responses were designed to turn on and off very rapidly, but our fancy human brains can keep them going indefinitely, as we think and ruminate about everything that’s wrong. This fuels the emotion centers of the brain that produce feelings of threat, because although they’re very powerful, these emotions centers aren’t good at telling the difference between real threats and our thoughts, mental images, and memories.
On the other hand, when our “safeness” system is working for us – helping us feel calm and peaceful – we naturally become reflective, can think flexibly and creatively, and naturally become more altruistic and compassionate. So we want to learn how to help ourselves feel safe, so that we can bring the best versions of ourselves forward as we try to tackle complex problems and challenges in the world. I’ll be discussing this more in the blog section, but one of the best ways to help ourselves feel safe is through warm connections with others who accept us. That was one of my goals for creating this page.
Below I’ve included some links to help you learn to take care of yourself, connect with supportive others, and get that safeness system working for you so that you can stay inspired and motivated to make the world a better place, even when things get hard:
This link is for the Working with Anger page from the Inland Northwest Compassionate Mind Center website, which features a number of tools and guided meditations for working compassionately with anger and other emotions.