PPP092: Developing the Indomitable Gift of Compassion with Dr. Stan Steindl

 

Speaker 1

0:00:02 - 0:00:42

Hello and welcome to the potential psychology podcast. I'm your host, Ellen Jackson. And it's my mission to share the science of human behaviour in a practical fund and inspiring way. In each podcast episode, I interview an expert from the fields Psychology, wellbeing, leadership, parenting for high performance. I pick their brain to uncover what they know about living. Well, what tips do they have for you and I on? I quizzed him about how they apply their expertise in their own life. Join me as we discover simple, science backed ways. Live, learn, flourish and fulfil your potential.

Speaker 2

0:00:42 - 0:00:43

Hello

Speaker 1

0:00:43 - 0:02:42

and happy Podcast Day. This is Episode 92 off the potential psychology podcast, and we're talking about how to understand and overcome suffering, which sounds very intense, but it's actually a very everyday experience, suffering. I mean, suffering. Like most, and maybe all human experience comes in degrees. We all struggle at different times with common life challenges in our relationships, in parenting, at work we'll get sad and stressed and worried. We might feel lonely or isolated. At times. We definitely feel fear and guilt and shame, and these all forms off suffering and many ofthe hm come from within us, which is good news in a way, because we can do something about them with a bit of knowledge and a bit of practise and a bit of patients and a bit of support. And my guest today, Dr Stan Stander is here to guide us through all of those things. But first, it's time for me to share my three things. If you haven't heard about the three things, it's a new idea we're running with for a new year. In each episode, I'll share three things that helping me to fulfil my potential. And the three things are every week, something I'm reading, something I've learned and something I'm doing to grow so pushing myself out of my comfort zone and helping me to fulfil my potential even in tiny, tiny little ways physically, emotionally or psychologically. And of course, I'd love to hear about your three things, too. So send me an email a D m. Through with socials or post to pick on your socials and tag it P p three things with the digit three. It'll be fabulous to see what you've got to share. So my three things for this episode, I have started a new audio book, which I'm listening to while the dog and I Walk and it's called Grounded. How leaders Stay rooted in an Uncertain World.

Speaker 1

0:02:43 - 0:04:32

It's by Bob Rosen, who's the CEO of Healthy Companies International. And it was a New York bestseller. It's a few years old now that many can't remember, and I don't have it here on my desk, actually, so I can't tell you exactly, but I'm going to guess around sort of 20 Fortin 2015, something like that. 2016, maybe. Anyway, it was a New York Times best seller, and what I love about it, or what I'm loving about it is that it really delved deeply into how leaders function at their best as human beings on this doesn't matter if you're a leader of a large organisation or a small not for profit or a startup or community or even a family. We all operate at our best, especially in complex, often ambiguous environments, which is, to be honest, much of the world. Right now, when we know who we are, when we know what drives in motivates us and when we're connected to our body and paying attention to our energy levels and our emotions and what they're telling us and then knowing how to manage these well. So we know that we were curious and open to new experiences. And when we know our place in the world, we have a sense of meaning and purpose. All of these things are connected. They help us to function our best. And that's critical for anybody who's helping to lead others to a place off, thriving and flourishing, whether economically or psychologically or emotionally or developmentally in any way. The book absolutely speaks to everything that we're passionate about here at potential psychology and the work that I do in leadership and personal effectiveness in the workplace. So it's an excellent raid if you haven't to bay and emerging aspiring or current leader, or you're wanting to create a thriving workplace.

Speaker 1

0:04:33 - 0:06:20

And speaking of which shameless plug, my Guide to Creating a Thriving workplace is available on the potential psychology website. At the moment it's free and takes you through a Siri's of simple steps to help you create a thriving team and work environment. And if you pop over to potential dot com dot you you'll find it there, and we'll put a link in thes show notes as well. So that's the number. The number one thing thing number one. It's what I'm reading. My second thing for this episode, something I've learned, is to reapply your sunscreen when you're out in the sun. In Australia in particular, I have to learn this. Relearn it really every year. I don't know why I make the same mistake every year. Only make it once a year because I've learned then for the summer. But it's an uncomfortable lesson, and it's one that I am suffering through again as we speak. So it's not a bad sunburn, but it is uncomfortable, and I just feel like a dill because being is fair as I am and burning so easily, I really should know better. You'd think by 48 I would have learned from the experience, but apparently no. So even if you're smothered or you have smothered yourself in the sun's great before you leave the house, make sure you reapply it after a few hours. I'm hoping that you might be able to learn from my mistake, even if I'm a bit slow to do so. And my third thing for this episode, something I'm doing to fulfil my potential, is making a greater effort in 2021 to maintain my relationships and connexions 2020 wass such a bonkers here. And by the end of it, it really became patently obvious to me that I was investing way too much time in tow work and home and inward looking things, and not nearly enough time into friendships and wider family and outward connexions.

Speaker 1

0:06:20 - 0:07:29

So I'm making the extra effort this year to catch up with people to socialist now that we can a little more here in Australia at least, and to have non work related conversations. Just enjoy other's company and be curious about their lives and their worlds. And I have to say that is quite a joyous and very therapeutic experience to get out of your own head. And we know from the science that Connexion with others is a major contributor to well being. So if you perhaps became a little self focused as well over 2020 and it was a very easy thing today, then perhaps a bit of conscious social Connexion might help you to aunt. Of course. Let me know about your three things on instagram or linked in or any of the socials by taking your picks, hashtag pp. Three thinks okay. It is time to turn our attention to other matters relating to people and Connexion and well being. And our interview with today's expert and our conversation about compassion and among other wonderful things, why we need compassion to survive as a species. So let's

Speaker 2

0:07:29 - 0:07:32

go. My

Speaker 1

0:07:32 - 0:08:25

guest today on this show is Dr Stance Dine Drawer, Brisbane based clinical psychologist, business owner, researcher at Junked, associate Professor in the School of Psychology at the University of Queensland and author off the GIF ts of Compassion. How to understand and Overcome Suffering, which is very recently published by Australian Academic Press on today. We are talking about compassion, a term that is used frequently, but I know when I started thinking about it, I said, I wonder what it actually really means. What forms does it take? Why has it evolved as a critical element off being human? And how do we use it to make day to day life a little easier, A little kinder, both for ourselves and for others. So welcome stand. It's so great to have you on the show.

Speaker 2

0:08:26 - 0:08:29

Hello. It's very much a delight to be here. Thanks for having me.

Speaker 1

0:08:30 - 0:09:11

Very welcome. As I say with every one of my guess, it's beginning. I have so many things to ask you. There are so many topics and so many questions that have arisen for May on my reading off the GIF ts off compassion. And also it's just a topic that I think has started to become discussed a little more certainly in psychological circles. And I'm hoping more widely within our general population, then perhaps our audience who are listening in today. So I can start by asking a very straightforward question, although it might not be a bit straightforward. Answer. What do we mean by compassion? Psychologically speaking,

Speaker 2

0:09:11 - 0:10:41

Yes, well, that is the $64 million question. In some ways, actually, it's interesting because there's different perspectives on that. Sometimes people might see compassion, a za feeling or you know, those sorts of things in compassion. Focus therapy, which is really the basis of my book and the gifts of compassion, is really coming from CFP approach. We would see compassion as a motivation, a motivation that really has to psychology is the first. Psychology is about engaging with suffering, being sensitive or noticing or aware ofthe suffering that perhaps is being experienced by another or even ourselves. And then the second. Psychology is one ofthe motivation and action, so being motivated to do something to help alleviate or prevent, even suffering. So the CFT definition really is. Compassion is a sensitivity to suffering in self or others and a commitment to try to alleviate or prevent it. And there's a whole range of attributes and competencies that might also come into that. But it's that kind of basic algorithm being engaged with suffering and being motivated to help.

Speaker 1

0:10:42 - 0:11:33

Okay, which is fascinating, because I'm intrigued by language and words and how they form a concept in our mind that may not always bay consistent across everybody and may not even necessarily be something that we're really thought through ourselves. And so when I was doing a little research about all what's the dictionary definition while the compassion and it was consistently around something like a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow. For another who was stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering. So there's that component. But it feels to me like perhaps there's a bit of difference that that kind of sympathy and sorrow peace Does that come into play in terms of our psychological definition off it, or is it just more that awareness without having some kind of value attached to it?

Speaker 2

0:11:34 - 0:11:50

It's very interesting because I don't know about you. But when I was studying psychology and we were doing, you know, counselling 101 or something like that, we were sort of told you No empathy, good sympathy, not good or battle on.

Speaker 1

0:11:50 - 0:11:50

There's still

Speaker 2

0:11:50 - 0:14:03

sort of ah sense of that around the place that, somehow sympathy sorrow for the other person might not be a useful a tribute, but actually, from a CFT point of view, that engagement side of compassion that first psychology is made up of, ah, the number of attributes. And so, of course, sensitivity is one of those attributes. Their butt sympathy and empathy both also part off what it means to engage with suffering. So empathy, of course, is being able to cognitive empathy might be more about perspective taking and kind of understanding cognitively what the other person's experience is like, what they might be feeling or what this might mean for them and then affect of empathy where we kind of resonate with that, we have a felt sense of perhaps what they're going through. But then sympathy is a feeling of our own. So it's feeling moved by, perhaps what they're going through, feeling moved by their suffering or touched by that suffering. And it's important because empathy gives us an understanding of what they're going through. But then sympathy just helps to motivate us to want to help. Sometimes empathy as a skill might be used in other ways. For example, if we can understand, you know what really matters to another person, we might use that to manipulate them, actually for it, for others that have more self interested purposes. Where is when we have empathy, plus sympathy? Then we feel moved and motivated to actually held. But sympathy, different though to pity or having a kind of looking down on the person but rather just peeling moved feeling touched by what the person is going through. Of course, with sympathy and feeling moves, we then experience potentially distress to weaken feel moved by another suffering to the extent that we experience personal distress.

Speaker 2

0:14:03 - 0:15:14

And the difficulty there, of course, is that that can then motivate us away from that suffering. So another important attributes would be distressed tolerance, where we developed skills and competencies around just being able to manage our own feelings on DH, managing the distress that might be there and then the other two attributes just to complete that circle, I guess, would be personally non judgement. So in compassion, were trying to be non judgmental, not necessarily never making judgement calls. You know, we sort of need toe be able to identify. Yes, that person is suffering, and we all know they're not all. So There's certain discernment that's really important there. But trying to be non judgmental in terms of non blaming, non shaming, especially off the person who might be suffering and then finally, is a care for well being, a motivation that really is about caring for the well being of others and oneself so. But those air kind of considered the six attributes of engagement that sensitivity, sympathy, distress, tolerance, empathy, non judgement and careful well being.

Speaker 1

0:15:14 - 0:15:22

He did very well there. Normally, when I say there's six or five or four or three of something, I can only remember one. Well,

Speaker 2

0:15:22 - 0:16:07

they've been drilled into May I? Because it actually it becomes important because I remember, you know, like often for May early on, compassion was certainly there. And, you know, it would be on the list of things that seem important as a therapist or whatever, but often not thoroughly sort of explored or developed, whereas to just know some of these various components. It gives us a way to just cultivate compassion, working on the bits that might not be as fulfilled as others and also for clients as well. You know, we were able to really flesh that out, and maybe it is distress tolerance. That is the thing that we need to work on so we can pick that bit on doom or more focused work

Speaker 1

0:16:07 - 0:17:12

and that I think as you were describing all of those elements that really did remind me that like most elements of being human, something like compassion is complex and it is nuanced, and there are lots of elements to it. It's never quite a straightforward. If I go back to my dictionary definition. You know, you said that there's that motivational element, which is the doing part, but also that it's not just about recognising somebody else's distress or suffering and looking down on that or feeling some kind of pity for that. It is as much about all of those human and emotional elements as well as the cognitive. We can look at that and say that, you know, cognitively, we might feel pity for someone. It might motivate some action in some regard. But if we can take all of those other elements that you've described into consideration and understand that and see how that plays out, then our actions could well be quite different as a consequence. Does that make sense?

Speaker 2

0:17:12 - 0:18:08

It makes a lot of sense, actually. If we respond to suffering just on the basis of amore emotional motivation, we can sometimes be helpful. But sometimes we might actually be unhelpful. We my step in and try to fix things in a way that is sort of a little bit about helping us to alleviate our own distress, more so than necessarily being the best way to help the other person or equally you know, it might become overwhelming. Remember that poor child who was washed ashore on the Turkish beach? I think it was some time ago, and many of us just had to turn away or turn the TV off. It was just very overwhelming and distressing. And so, yes, we're not wanting necessarily to just have an emotional experience with compassion, but rather try toe work in all of these other other little elements. It takes a lot of wisdom, really, to be compassionate.

Speaker 1

0:18:08 - 0:18:38

Yeah, that's exactly as I was reading the book and also just listening to you now. It's a complex psychological phenomenon, I guess, you know, to be able to fully understand and be fully compassionate on one of the things that, in reference to everything you've just described. You've talked about mothers but also yourself. And in the book, you mentioned that there's kind of three flows to convention Khun three Flows and perhaps the third one, which might be the one that we've figured about more readily.

Speaker 2

0:18:39 - 0:20:15

It's really it's important part, really off, considering compassion at this idea that that there are, in fact, three flows. We might express compassion for others of course, and that's the one that often most readily comes to mind. And we think about trying to be compassionate brothers who might be suffering or disadvantaged on DSO on. But secondly, there is also the flow off self compassion, so noticing our own suffering and being motivated to do something to help there. A CZ well, the third one that you were alluding to is actually the flow off, receiving compassion from others. And it's very interesting because that can be the one that we forget or even feel most reluctant about. I mentioned in the book about doing some training with a lot of student nurses and measuring their flows of compassion. Suspect. There's a couple of question is that we use to measure all of that. And as you would expect, they were very high on compassion for others but quite low on self compassion but also receiving compassion from others. Let lower than perhaps you might even find in the general population and its important to consider, because we want to try to get the three flows in balance if we're being compassionate towards others, a lot and that's very good, but it gradually can kind of use us up and we can sort of end up feeling pretty spent with all of that. And so we're wanting to find ways

Speaker 1

0:20:16 - 0:20:17

that term, isn't

Speaker 2

0:20:17 - 0:21:01

it? Compassion, fatigue? Absolutely. And that's certainly a term that we might use for the helping professions. But even just people generally we can. Sometimes I feel a bit used up when the compassion is just flowing out towards others and so finding ways to offer ourselves compassion and open ourselves up two, maybe receiving compassion from others as well. That could be very important for the nursing group. Of course, it's about those morning tea type chats. You know, where they're able to talk about their day. Another person is able to kind of listen and empathise, and then we can offer that to them as well. And we, Khun, see that there's a giving and receiving of compassion that's starting to flow

Speaker 1

0:21:01 - 0:21:37

on. One of the topics that I know I've been talking a lot about both your on the podcast but also with clients has been around self care on DH self compassion. I get part of that. We've talked about the mechanics of self care, the sorts of things we can do to look after ourselves and how that is broader than just Perhaps the instagram were the bubble bugs and Netflix. One of the challenges that I know many of the people that I've spoken to has been around giving ourselves permission for self care. Does that fit into that notion of self compassion?

Speaker 2

0:21:38 - 0:23:24

One of the things that has been identified in CFT is fears blocks and resistance is to compassion. We all have certain reservations about being compassionate. Well, sometimes across the three Flows, actually, we might have reservations about being compassionate towards others. We might think I'll just take advantage of me or something like that. But we certainly can have fears. Blocks and resistance is about self compassion or receiving compassion from others. And we can feel like maybe we don't really deserve it or really worthy ofthe compassion from others. Or we might think that it's too much like self pity or that others might see us a CZ week or even it's too self indulgent but can be compassionate towards others. But not myself. That's too self indulgent, too selfish and so on. On DH so often with compassion, focus therapy one of the really early tasks is about exploring all of that. Exploring fears, blocks and resistance is and just identifying. What is it for this person? What might be a barrier or an inhibitor off developing across the three flows of compassion, but especially to self compassion and receiving compassion from others? Tryingto identify the fears, blocks and resistance is there gradually exploring them, tapping into the wisdom that might actually be there in those. There's often really important information that we consort of understand and insights that we can gain from properly understanding the person's reservations. Then, as we work it through, often compassion just bubbles up then, eh? So that fills the space.

Speaker 1

0:23:24 - 0:23:27

It was there. It just needed to be unlocked.

Speaker 2

0:23:27 - 0:23:52

Exactly. Yeah. I mean, that safety is very much an evolutionary theory, and the idea there is that compassion is there within us. It's evolved as part of the species. As you said right at the start, and so often times, if we can just kind of work through and resolve a little bit of those fears, blocks and resistance is, then it unlocks the compassion that is already there.

Speaker 1

0:23:52 - 0:24:54

There are two things that come to mind regarding some of those blocks and fears and resistance, perhaps that I've heard from clients, and I work with people in workplaces and coaching clients rather than people who are going to say therapy and inverted commas. But what is letting yourself off the hook? So this idea that if I showed myself some compassion, I'm somehow letting myself off the hook that I'm not upholding the standards that I expect of myself or that I perceive others expect of May and the other one is around a vulnerability that fear that people will see me as being weak. And I'm thinking particularly off many of the managers that I work with in work places that you know if I allow myself some compassion, or I admit that I am human or that I have made a mistake, that I am therefore somehow vulnerable, and it will put me in a difficult position in terms of those that I work with. And I'm guessing that you'd argue that neither of those air helpful Western thinking about this

Speaker 2

0:24:54 - 0:26:59

yes, exactly the idea that compassion is self indulgent or letting us off the hook or that compassion is this week. It's interesting because sometimes it could be useful to really explore with people what compassion actually is. Because a lot of those ideas come from kind of misconceptions a little bit, you know, I mean, you mentioned the bubble baths before, for example, and that's a very useful thing to do. And I do them tio. And it's a self can strategy and also sometimes self compassion is actually about doing the tough stuff, not the easy stuff. An old saying I like is a good life is not necessarily the same as a life that always feels good, and compassion is a little bit like that. Compassion might be that we give ourselves a little break and have a sort of a self care day and that sort of thing. But self compassion equally might be No. I need to start getting up a little earlier and going to the park and doing some exercise not really easy or letting ourselves off the hook, but certainly good for us and and in the service of our own well being and so that often we can work through some of those misconceptions and explore it from there in terms of compassion, being weak or nor that sort of thing. If you think about it, you think of some of the big names in compassion Mother Teresa or Nelson Mandela or something like that. There's no weakness there. Compassion is strong and powerful and takes enormous courage and stability and grounded this actually that often to be compassionate towards others or ourselves, or whatever it takes and almost strength. And so we often refer to wisdom, strength and courage and commitment to being helpful that those are some off the key elements there toe what compassion actually is.

Speaker 1

0:26:59 - 0:27:34

Yeah, I think there's some wonderful ways to frame that that I think would be better received, perhaps, than a dictionary definition of compassion in some elements of our population, of considering it as wisdom and strength and courage. And absolutely I can see how it does. It does take courage to allow a little bit of vulnerability to accept that we're human, that we make mistakes that, you know, we feel things and that both for ourselves and for other people, is definitely an element of courage required in that

Speaker 2

0:27:34 - 0:27:56

Yes, yes, yes, and I mean if we think about it, compassion is about suffering. So it's no small thing to be able to approach and be in the presence of suffering with a commitment to help. That takes an enormous amount of strength and awareness and presence of mind and wisdom, and so on. Tto do that

Speaker 1

0:27:56 - 0:28:22

even that, Yes, opening yourself up to distress, which is, as he said, something that could well occur when we're showing compassion for others. Stand you mentioned before the evolutionary element off this and the fact that this is a critical element off being human. Where has this come from? What how does this evolved? And why's it evolved to bay an important piece of the survival of our species? I guess.

Speaker 2

0:28:22 - 0:30:02

I know in some of your previous episodes, you've talked about things like the threat system, and you've mentioned fight, flight freeze. A piece would be the other elements of it a swell, and we've certainly evolved brain functions that are all about dealing with threats and protecting us from threats and so on. And that's been an important part of survival and reproduction, and we also in safety. So we think of the threat system. But we also think of the drive system, which is more about the sort of obtaining resources, finding a mate seeking food and other another things like that competition having success is achieving things. And so we have the drive system as well. If we had just the threat system, we probably try and stay safely in the cave and, you know, but we needed to go out of the cave and get stuff. So we've got this drive system that also helps with that. But humans were never a ll that fast or all that strong, really. You know, in terms of dealing with threats on DH, so on. And so we really needed to have a third system. And in safety, we really talk about the soothing affiliative system, which is a third system of the brain, that that's much more about soothing, nurturing, connecting with feeling safe with others. Of course, you know when our little babies are born, sort of plump kind of thing. I think that's how it happens. I'm not sure,

Speaker 1

0:30:02 - 0:30:03

but

Speaker 2

0:30:03 - 0:30:18

something like that, so that they are terribly vulnerable, you know, they are. I mean, they have trouble actually getting on the breast on DH, feeding you know that the star that takes quite a lot of concerted efforts and then they don't walk or talk for a couple of years And

Speaker 1

0:30:18 - 0:30:21

let's face it, they can't even hold their heads up. Their babies can

Speaker 2

0:30:21 - 0:32:24

exactly that. They're born really prematurely, actually, because we came down from the trees and our pill, this is narrowed. And then our babies were born earlier, and then they just needed to be looked after for many years. I mean, I think sometimes I don't leave home well into their twenties, so we had to evolve thiss third system, which was really about certainly looking after our vulnerable young but looking after each other Generally way developed this soothing system to look after one another. And we've always looked after our young, but also our elderly or those of us who may be sick or injured or other things is there's lots of archaeological evidence out there that really indicates that that's a big part of our species to so we can be cruel. We are probably one of the most cruel speaks to members of our own species, but to other species as well, unfortunately, but really we do have this propensity towards caring, caring for each other. And I mean, in some ways we're over eight billion people on the planet. I think so. Way obviously care for each other more so than we kill each other. I gets on DSO. Thiss soothing system is really about a caring motivation, and it kind of evolved. But that's kind of the older brain kind of functions. We also have what you might think of us. The newer brain functions things like social awareness or being able to set it intentions or being able. Teo. Imagine people further afield or and sullen. And so all of that really helps to supercharge if you like that kind of more million caring motivation and turn it into something more like compassion, which really is thiss not sure if it's only unique to humans, although a lot of people often will say Well, now, animals can be compassionate to that, and certainly they care for each other and so on.

Speaker 2

0:32:24 - 0:32:43

But that ability to actually imagine a person way over in another country and do something to donate or other things. You know, that seems to be unique to humans, I guess, and it really emerges out of that soothing system that we use to survive,

Speaker 1

0:32:43 - 0:32:57

so that explains where it comes from, why we have it. But those complex elements off the brain, that ability to imagine and project and set intentions etcetera can also contribute to our suffering. Carter.

Speaker 2

0:32:58 - 0:34:39

Well, this is the thing that evolution is very interested in survival. Andrea Production, and it does that very well. But it's not so interested in making us happy. And so lots of these functions will have certain trade offs. I mean, the most obvious example of that is the threat system, which anxiety or anger or discussed these kind of emotions have bean very important in terms of our survival. But it also causes us a lot of suffering, especially actually when it gets into tricky loops with imagination or remembering becomes fearful, imagining and ruminating and also self monitoring to that were such a hyper social species. It's so important to our survival, but it becomes a real target off our own self monitoring. Am I being approved of in the group? Am I about to be judged or rejected or cast out of the group? So we have this tendency to really monitor ourselves all the time, and that can lead to self criticism or even more difficult emotions like shame and so on. If you think about what's the situation in which primitive humans were most at risk? Well, it was if they were out there alone, if they were rejected or cast out of the group and they were alone than they were dead. So that's a really keep heart of tricky loops in the brain and the way that we constantly monitor for social threats and kind of create this self conscious emotions and wanted to that all the

Speaker 1

0:34:39 - 0:35:22

time. So we end up having sometimes thes conversations. So there are perhaps not sometimes, perhaps often times conversation with ourselves about the things that we are imagining are happening in the minds may be off others on DH then that starts toe have an impact on. Not just our behaviour is that, but also our emotions. That's where that stress or anger or anxiety or disappointment or fear or shame, or any of those sorts of tricky emotions can come from making it extraordinarily difficult. Sometimes to be happy and not suffer ourselves,

Speaker 2

0:35:22 - 0:37:00

we're very much better to be safe than sorry. So we much prefer Teo on the side of maybe seeing a threat that's not there than ever missing a threat that is there. And so we sort of imagine the minds of others. But we kind of imagine the worst sometimes because that feels safer to duel of that. And so we definitely get caught in these tricky loops of the mind. But here's the thing. This is the evolutionary model. It's really recognising that our brains were designed for us, not biassed. You know, we were born with these tricky brains, and all of this stuff is just in their programmed already. And so the key element there. Certainly from a compassionate focus therapy point of view, it's just the notion that it's not our fault. None of this is our fault. It's not our fault that our mine's get caught up in threat. And it's not our fault that we feel fearful and angry and sad. Sometimes it's not our fault that we are constantly monitoring out for social threats and someone because that's how our brains were designed. And actually, that's why we're even here now is because all of that helped us to survive. So the evolutionary approach really helps, too. D shame and d blame ourselves and create that mind awareness whereby we can sort of understand this is how the brain works. This is how our mind works and kind of go from there

Speaker 1

0:37:01 - 0:37:11

and you make the point in the book. And I do love thiss that whilst it is not our fault, it is our responsibility. What do you mean by that?

Speaker 2

0:37:11 - 0:38:25

Well, we want to d blame and d shame, but we don't want people to therefore feel resigned or have a kind of a disregard or a callous disregard about their mind on DH what it's doing. We want to alleviate and prevent suffering. And we we want to try. Teo may not cause more suffering, and so in a sense, it's our responsibility, therefore, to understand our mind and understand how it's working and notice what it's doing at any given time and then make certain decisions about what we might do with that. That way, Khun bring all the powers of the tricky brain for good. In that sense, though, we Khun set intentions and we can mental is and we can understand others and ourselves. We could bring empathy to the table and sympathy and so on. And we can take responsibility to do things in certain ways, with an intention to be helpful. One of the really nice sayings and see if tea is. May I be helpful rather than harmful to myself and others? And and that's the responsibility pieces just trying Teo work with with all of that

Speaker 1

0:38:26 - 0:38:40

and is that where the motivational element that second piece comes in, you know where we move from, Perhaps an awareness and thinking about this to a point of action, whether that's around self compassion, profession for ourselves or compassion for others.

Speaker 2

0:38:40 - 0:40:10

Yeah, I think that's a beautiful point. It really is in there. That motivation becomes a key part of it. And actually, because it's motivation, there can be two sides to it, too. It might be the side that I've used against doing so, and so we want Oh, except invalidate that that piece might be there as well. And then there might be the other side, which is about arguments for doing something in that instance, until we want to explore and elaborate er upon that a little bit. But gradually, you know, helping people to move in the direction of cultivating this compassionate mind. May I be helpful rather than harmful to myself and others? One of the metaphors is we have our guts and our got produces outputs, certain outputs that are not necessarily overly pleasant in the way and so, but we don't blame ourselves or shame ourselves for that. We just create toilets and sewage systems way deal with it hygienically, and I think that's the responsibility. But here is that our brain actually is also an organ that has certain outputs, you know, and some of those aren't overly pleasant, either. And so we're trying Teo find ways to deal with all of that psychologically. Hygienically, if you like on DH, that's really where compassion starts to come into it.

Speaker 1

0:40:10 - 0:40:54

That's a fantastic I was going to say It's a lovely way of thinking about it, that is that metaphor. Not that lonely but a helpful way but yes to think about, particularly with that self compassion. You know that piece in there around just understanding that we are human, that our brain does thes things. It's not always helpful to us or to others, but it is just part of being human, and that's okay. So there's a little bit of forgiveness of ourselves. But as you say, we're turning that around to be able to say, Well, so what do I do about this? How do I handle this on baby in action? But it could also just be in thoughts and how we manage our thoughts, can't it

Speaker 2

0:40:54 - 0:42:34

e? I was talking Teo, one of the people I'm working with at the moment as a clinical psych in private practise, and he came in and he said that he had his sort of felt like he had a win because he started to get bit panicky, which is what we've been working on. And then he said, You notice his mind said to himself, Don't be ridiculous. It's just anxiety. It'll pass, you idiot. But he said he did that, but it didn't actually make him feel better. But some reason s So it was this idea that he was kind of challenging the thoughts and so on. But at the same time, with this Muchmore hostile or even self attacking self criticism, that was in there and I think it's not my fault, but it is my responsibility. That's where we try to soften a LL that you know. In some ways, it's a simple a cz just softening the tone of my inner voice, being able to make those kind of changes to the way we're thinking, but doing it in a way where the voice has a warm or friendly or supportive or encouraging or reassuring or validating tones rather than really hostile tones. And so in many ways, that's where we start to head with self compassion is really just adjusting some of the basics, you know, adjusting the body posture, adjusting the facial expression, adjusting the voice tone and just bringing that warm friendliness to the way we start to treat ourselves even when things are going really wrong. But just trying to approach ourselves without shame and blame. But instead, with this kind of warm friendliness

Speaker 1

0:42:35 - 0:43:49

on, obviously that goes for how we speak to others as well. Because I'm thinking about sometimes the conversations we might have all the interactions we might have, perhaps with their nearest and dearest, at which we don't necessarily bring forth our warmest, friendliest tones when we're feeling under stress or under pressure ourselves, or were particularly distressed about a situation. One of the ways of conceptualising that that I found very helpful, that notion of speaking tow ourselves in a kinder and more friendlier away with something that I heard from Kristen Neff, who does a lot of work in self compassion. But I just speak to yourself. Issue would, ah, friend and I've often used that with clients and people that I've worked with this notion that you know, you wouldn't have that kind of cruel, harsh, combative type conversation with somebody else. And yet we seem to think that it's okay to talk to ourselves in their way to berate ourselves for being, you know, unsatisfactory your failing in subway. But yeah, and when we do turn it around and start to think about having that friendly a conversation with ourselves, I know for me personally. The first time I came across that it started to increase my own awareness of how I spoke to myself and then was unable to adjust it.

Speaker 2

0:43:49 - 0:44:52

Yeah, I mean, if we had someone that we cared about who was experiencing anxiety or panic, we would never say to them. Don't be ridiculous. It's just anxiety. It'll pass, you idiot. We couldn't say that to someone that way of speaking. We would know it least that that probably wouldn't help them or soothe or reassure them. I'll give them a sense of encouragement. So, yes, it is such an interesting quirk of human species, really The way that we speak to ourselves and how we can be so harsh with all of that. And it happens many times a day, you know, I can go down to my car and I've forgot my keys, and all of a sudden you idiot comes to mind, you know? And then I drive off and then I think I forgot my charger. You idiot comes to mind, you know, it's amazing, really. When you stop and start to be really aware of this stuff, just how often we're kind of berating ourselves as you saidi, and sometimes even just changing half of those can really make for a different day.

Speaker 1

0:44:53 - 0:45:15

Where does that come from? Because, as you say, you know what? We shouldn't be hearing this from those nearest on DH. I don't know. Unfortunately, in some circumstances we do hear those things from our nearest and dearest and in some family situations, more so than others. But if in theory we don't hear it from others, is not being modelled for us, where does it come from? Why do we become so critical of ourselves so quickly?

Speaker 2

0:45:15 - 0:47:24

Well, I think it really is an evolved brain function. We are hardwired to critique ourselves in order to stay safely in the group. So we are programmed to watch out for any little thing that we might do that wrong or disappointing or going to be disapproved of or judged. And we're just programmed to criticise ourselves on that basis. And often people will have the whole bunch of rationales that they have, why self criticism is good for them. When we asked people, they'll say, Well, it motivates May or it keeps me on track or it stops me from getting lax or lazy or it helps me to improve and so on, So we will often have this sense that self criticism is really helpful. But of course, when you do a bit of a functional analysis over than you work through a little process with and you have some kind of imagine something that they're critical about, try to work out. How does that leave you feeling? They'll often say, Well, I feel less motivated. I feel smaller. I feel sad and so on. And so we hold tightly onto this idea that self criticism is helpful, even when actually, it could be a real source ofthe depression, ultimately, and feelings of shame and on that's the thing is, well, obviously, there are certain forms of self criticism. Sometimes there certainly can be self improving self criticism where the professional golfer who has a round of golf when she goes back to the clubhouse, she doesn't think about all of her really good shots. She thinks about the shots that didn't go so well and then she thinks, Okay, well, tomorrow I'm going toe, go on, practise my short game or I don't actually play golf. So I'm not sure that's the way that's. That's sort of reflective practise, so that that could be useful. It it's really the self hating, self attacking self criticism that can be most problematic.

Speaker 1

0:47:24 - 0:48:21

And, as you say, I think perhaps whilst there might be some at least short term motivational benefits it's not going to make you happier. So it has impacts on our relationships with ourselves, relationships with others and a general feeling of well being. Stan, you mentioned shame earlier as one of thie emotions, one of the perhaps more complex social type emotions that we experience. And I'm intrigued by this, because again, this has been a topic that I suppose has to started to kind of eek out there a little bit. Bruno Brown has done a lot of work in shame, and interestingly, I was fortunate enough to read a book called See What You Made Me Do by Jess Hill, which is around domestic abuse and in her exploration off some off the cause ality off domestic abuse. She covered the topic of shames that what can you tell us about shame as an emotion and where it fits with compassion?

Speaker 2

0:48:21 - 0:48:25

Yes, it's a very big topic. Alot of its own is No

Speaker 1

0:48:25 - 0:48:30

thing is yes, sorry. I don't expect you to go into the full depth of it here. We don't have time, but

Speaker 2

0:48:30 - 0:50:51

well, that's interesting. I mean, I think that it is very relevant in compassion, Focus therapy and Professor Paul Gilbert was the person who first developed CFT and really it was developed, in a sense, to work with self criticism and shame. And so it is an important part of how we might think about things and work with people. And shame is a very painful and actually universal, self conscious emotion. Everyone can feel shame to various degrees and all around the world actually is. Well, we've just recently done a study that we're about to submit to a journal that's looking at shame across nations and some very interesting commonalities. They're even between. I think we had Portugal, France, Australia, Singapore and Japan. And yet there was still ah, lot of commonality there. But the idea is that shame to evolve as a way to keep us safely in the group. And you can imagine that for primitive humans things were scarce, food was scarce or whatever. And so every now and then someone might think I'll just take a little bit war off that food or something like that. But then shame might creep in. What are you doing? No, I I am a bad person. I should never do these things. No. All okay then you can stay. So it's sort of how shame might have helped us to stay safely in the group. And so it's an evolved emotion and there's different types of shame. So there's external shame, which is really the idea ofthe, How am I being seen in the minds of others, our other, seeing me as inadequate, inferior, unlovable, no good. And we are particularly concerned with external shame and worry about all of that. And then we have internal shame, which is really Mohr, about how I see myself as inadequate. Imperia unlovable, No good. So both external shame, an internal shame are our own beliefs.

Speaker 2

0:50:51 - 0:52:39

It's just that external shame is about our beliefs, about how others see us and internal shame is our beliefs about ourselves. And so these Khun be very, very difficult and painful, self conscious emotions. Humiliation is a little bit different again. Humiliation is a response to external shame, but in a way that we get angry and we retaliate or we fight back. And so humiliation often has that Mohr. How dare you kind of element to it. And then, of course, fourthly is guilt, which is another really important, self conscious emotion But guilt, I suppose, is kind of I've done something bad, whereas shame really is. I am bad and that's probably the common way that one might differentiate the two. And so definitely in safety. We're working with external or internal shame, humiliation or guilt, trying to disentangle all of that. In some ways, shame is arising out of the threat system, especially social threat on DSO on guilt is thought to arise out of the soothing system because the idea there is that we feel guilty because we've harmed someone who we care about or we've harmed something that we care about. And so we often in sea of t use compassion and the compassionate mind to help people just gently move from shame. Or I am bad guilt. I've done something bad and then to repair and repairing relationships. And so

Speaker 1

0:52:39 - 0:53:48

okay, and that's where the compassion peace, and that does make a lot of sense when you describe it that way, that if we've got that kind of self shame, that I am bad feeling and we can, I suppose, explore a bit of their humanity around that, that that is something that's come from the way our brain is I was going to say design how it's evolved on DH, then move it towards those feelings off. Okay, well, what are the implications of that? Well, I've done harm or damage to AA bond, another person, a relationship, etcetera, etcetera. How do I then understand that and then do something about it? So I think you know, for May particularly the coaching psychologist is kind of where I operate. It's all about the doing, you know, How did I do something too? Improve my wellbeing, attain a goal in this case, potentially mend a situation and mend ourselves, I suppose, a little bit, too, if you think about somebody who has done harm to somebody else, you know, how do I move on from that to assist them but also to assist me? Because otherwise that could be ruinous in some ways.

Speaker 2

0:53:49 - 0:54:56

E. I think we start to move then towards things like self forgiveness or forgiveness of others, and how that Khun B. A very important act of compassion and self compassion, in fact, so forgiveness, but but even forgiving others is is often important for self compassion because we can let go of the anger and the vengeful feelings that might be there if someone has harmed us. But certainly self forgiveness is important for alleviating shame and or guilt, and then back to the old saying may be helpful rather than harmful to myself and others. So what can I do next? To be helpful and to alleviate, prevent suffering and actually in CFT, which I think would certainly be applicable to the work you're doing, we would certainly be looking beyond just alleviating and preventing suffering and towards flourishing. And what can I do next to grow on DH flourish and make a contribution on DSO

Speaker 1

0:54:56 - 0:55:02

engaged in therapy sense like a good place to start E, doesn't it? Yes, Well, it

Speaker 2

0:55:02 - 0:55:40

can be, I suppose the wisdom that's what we like to try to do first is how do we gathered together the wisdom of our tricky brains and the wisdom of how the mind works and design is a good word, you know, like their brains were designed for us, not by us, and they can cause us a lot of suffering. And so if we can gather together the wisdom of tricky brains and also some of the practises that can help to soften and sue them ground and stabilisers. Then we can move on to dealing with anxiety or anger or shame, and eventually move towards flourishing.

Speaker 1

0:55:40 - 0:55:58

Yeah, perfect. And so on that note, The benefit of our listeners thiss isn't going to be a simple answer, but off the top of your head some of the best tips and strategies that you have for people to further develop their compassion, either for themselves or others.

Speaker 2

0:55:59 - 0:58:05

The first thing I often think about is we always bring it back to the body, and so there's a really important for step. They're off. Probably four key things. There's the posture trying to creating an upright but relaxed kind of posture, rolling back the shoulders, opening up the chest, looking forward. And then secondly, creating a warm or friendly facial expression, just relaxing the face and maybe a faint smile. Nothing too dramatic, but just creating a friendly facial expression, starting to really practise that friendly in a voice tone, it takes practise. It doesn't take us any practise to do anxiety that seems tto be fine without practise, but this stuff takes a bit of practise. It is literally practising a friendly voice tone and then, of course, slowing down the breathing. One of the set pieces in CFT is they talk about soothing, rhythm breathing, so really trying to so down the breathing, activating the parasympathetic nervous system down, regulating the body, slowing down the body, slowing down the mind. And once we create that kind of physiological state, then we can use certain other practises, such as imagery, where we might start to imagine a safe place. Or we might start to imagine a compassionate person and we might start to think, Well, what might that person do or say? What sort of words of wisdom might they offer? In terms of this difficult situation that I'm going through, the mind is like a spotlight, not that which it shines upon. And so, you know, our tension is often on threat, but we can shift the spotlight and start to use safe place imagery, imagery of compassionate others and then gradually develop a bit of an image of ourselves at our most compassionate. You know what? What am I like when I'm at my most compassionate person?

Speaker 2

0:58:05 - 0:59:26

Examples where I've given or received compassion over the years? or what are some of the attributes that I'd really liketo add into the mix, you know, is humour apart of compassion for May Or Or is it really about action starting to use imagery to just imagine our compassionate Selves? And then we can start to put it into practise. A big part of CFT is kind of like method acting where we just learn about the compassion itself. Then we use imagery and other behavioural techniques to kind of practise it. And then we start to really embody that part of ourselves, and it arrives whenever we might need it most. So this is obviously a process that we can go through, and it's a process of practise and rehearsal on gradual embodiment. But, you know, then, once we've created this sense of our compassionate Selves is part of ourselves that we then have that part alongside whatever might happen and surely will face challenges or disappointment or stresses, but that compassion itself, we'll kind of be there and be there to offer wisdom and strength and courage and commitment to be helpful for the rest of our lives

Speaker 1

0:59:26 - 0:59:47

s. So it's almost as you're describing that sort of struck me that there's almost Anel Ament of identity here that we're always taking on on identity around. I am a compassionate person, but we need to wrap around what that looks like and then try that on for size and practise it. Toe, a poet wrote, is actually instilled in that my identity, in a way.

Speaker 2

0:59:48 - 1:00:21

No, exactly. It really is about cultivating that part of ourselves. And eventually it's the part that Khun be running the show. Sometimes our angry self takes over and starts running the show, but we sort of moved towards this place where actually, our compassion itself can be the one that just intervenes and sort of OK, all right, guys, it's okay. I know you're angry. That's fair enough. Of course, you feel a bit angry in this situation. What can we do to be helpful here?

Speaker 1

1:00:21 - 1:00:32

What a wonderful goal, perhaps for 2021 to allow our passionate cells to take over and play out through our actions, words and deeds.

Speaker 2

1:00:32 - 1:00:34

Thank

Speaker 1

1:00:34 - 1:02:27

you so much for everything that you've shared today. It's been a fascinating conversation, and I do love that you mentioned the need because I know a lot of what we've spoken about is very much about what's going on in our heads, and I'm pointing two minors. I say that and what those tips around the use of bodies and our physical Selves as a starting point for awareness, calm, soothing and then being able to move from there. I do something that I really come to appreciate over the last couple of years, despite having practise yoga for many, many years. But I think I've only really started. Teo get a better sense. Is the psychologist around? You know the benefits of this is that we spend not nearly enough time in our bodies and way too much time in our heads, sometimes to our detriment. So some great strategies there for our listeners to absorb and follow and put into practise read more in the gifts of compassion, how to understand and overcome suffering, which is now available, and we will have a link in this show. Notes, too, that will also have a link to you, do all sorts of cool stuff. You've got YouTube videos and Facebook page and all sorts of things going on, so we'll put the links to all of that as well, so that you can learn a little bit more about Stan and his work and about compassion focused therapy. Because I suspect on the back of this interview have picked a bit of interest amongst our listeners is, I know for a lot of people we have a concept of what therapy is. But therapy these days has changed significantly, perhaps to what it was even 10 or 15 or 20 years ago. And there are so many different ways of engaging in therapy and compassion. Focus. Therapy is obviously one that I think might sound very appealing to Alice Nous.

Speaker 2

1:02:27 - 1:02:45

Just a little warning for listeners. It's actually almost seductive. Once you get into thinking about compassion, understanding ups, you know, playing with a little bit, you almost can't help but its friends. It just gets into your life, and that's certainly been my experience.

Speaker 1

1:02:46 - 1:02:52

That's a wonderful warning. Stan, thank you again So much for your private, for our conversation today.

Speaker 2

1:02:52 - 1:02:55

Thank you.

Speaker 1

1:02:56 - 1:04:41

So I have to say that conversation with Stan was an absolute delight, and I hope you got a much from his insights and knowledge and ideas, as I did Certainly the more. I learn about compassion and self compassion and the tools and techniques of compassion. Focus. Therapy on this is all relatively new to May. The more I find that I'm using these tools and techniques in my own life, and certainly with my coaching clients, for any of us who tend to have very high expectations off ourselves. And that is my coaching quiets more often than not and notice a lot of should or shouldn't conversations. You know, I should be doing this. I shouldn't be doing that. Exercising some compassion for yourself can be extraordinarily liberating and really good for your well being. And it just freeze you up from those conversations that you get caught up in your own mind to actually get on with the things that you're hoping and planning to get on with. And you can find more about Stan and his work, compassion, focus, therapy and, of course, his book, Thie. Gifts of Compassion. How to Understand It, Overcome Suffering, which is just published by Australian Academic Press in the show Notes for this episode to pop over to potential dot com dot you, we do have a new website. It won't look that different to you at your end. But trust me, it's quite different. And it involved a huge amount of work from the wonderful team here to get it up and running from the back end and the front end a bit that you see will evolve over time as well. One of the cool things we're working on for 2021 on while you're there, you might like to cheque out the details for my one on one coaching work. I do work with leaders and professionals and business owners and smart people like you looking to gain some clarity on goals and challenges.

Speaker 1

1:04:41 - 1:06:20

Or maybe your sense of self. Or maybe you're not very good itself compassion. Maybe you'd like tio develop some of the tips and strategies that we've talked about in today's episode. Maybe you'd like to work out a little more about who you are and what you're hoping to achieve, what you're looking towards professionally. Or maybe you could help others in your team or organisation to thrive and flourish. These all the sorts of things we talk about in coaching on I do have a couple of coaching places open now, all my coaching is online, and all of the details, as well as online booking is available on the potential psychology website at potential dot com. You It would be very exciting to work with you. Next podcast episode will be in your is in mid February. I will be chatting to CASS Done fellow Australian psychologist and host off the Crappy Too Happy Podcast, which consistently rakes in the top five Health and wellbeing podcast on Apple Podcast on has done so since its launch some years ago. Now CASS is also the author off the crappy toe happy Siri's of books. So crappy Happy crap, Peter Happy Love What you Do, which is about finding meaning purpose and happiness at work. And we'll be talking quite a bit about that one. And the upcoming Crap Eater, Happy Love Who? You're with simple steps to build stronger relationships and CASS and I are colleagues, but we're also friends. She has been a guest on the show before. She's wonderfully easy to talk to. She's full of great ideas, and she's really excellent at making psychology simple and accessible, and so it's going to be a great fun and informative conversation. So stay tuned for that one.

Speaker 1

1:06:20 - 1:08:11

If you don't already subscribe to the show, hits subscribe or follow, depending on where you listened to your podcasts and that episode and all of the subsequent episodes this year will arrive in your listening feed as soon as they dropped. And before I go today, I have a little thank you to me. Ze Me. Z has posted review off the potential psychology podcast on Apple podcast, which is delightful. Thank you, Maisie, Amisi says. Relevant, insightful, must listen. Epps. The kind of podcast where you go back to EP one and listen to every single show. Thanks, Ellen, for your great range ofthe topics and worthy guests. So I just wanted to say thank you to me easy for posting that review. It's absolutely what we aim to do here. So I'm so glad that we're hitting the mark with respect to the tone, the style, the content, our guests and all the other bits that make up our podcast episodes. So thank you so much. Thank you to everyone who posts a review. Reviews do help us to be found. It helps spread the word off the great work that our guests do in the realms ofthe wellbeing and human behaviour. And every time somebody writes a review, I read it. The team reads it, which is cool, and it does help to spread the word to others. Confined the podcast more readily. So thank you very much, Tim. Easy. And to everyone who sends us a rating or review, particularly in Apple podcasters, that still seems to be a kind of the platform. But of course, anywhere. And we appreciate even just the time you've taken Toa listen into this episode and all the others. So until we're back with our next episode Episode 93 with CASS done, stay safe, go well, take small steps to fulfil your potential and we'll see you soon.