Compassion represents certain feelings, thoughts, motives, desires, and behaviors that can be directed towards oneself, other people, animals, or the environment. Different psychologists and researchers have given different definitions of compassion, which typically have four things in common: awareness, kindness, alleviation, and normalization.
Awareness means an individual is attentive or sensitive to the fact that someone is feeling distressed and they’re feeling emotional pain, physical or mental pain. Engaging with a psychologist in Melbourne can help to explain more.
Normalizing means an individual is able to recognize that the feeling of pain is universal because everyone feels that way on some occasions. Knowing that pain is universal can help with coping because an individual understands they are not alone in their pain and they are not to blame for it.
Meeting pain with kindness, care and concern is an important part of compassion. Alleviation of pain, either by providing care or comfort, provides a helpful perspective regarding the trouble, and it gives them the courage to take action to address the problem.
Self-compassion is specifically an attitude directed towards oneself. Self-compassion means an individual is aware of their pain and understands that while it is hard, pain is a universal experience. One needs to be kind to themself and should focus their attention and energy towards fixing the problem.
Self-compassion is closely linked to mental health and well-being in general. Those who are less self-compassionate tend to have more mental health issues such as anxiety, stress, and depression and they also tend to have more interpersonal problems.
According to Paul Gilbert, emotions are managed by three systems, the threat, drive, and soothe systems. The threat, drive, and soothe systems have important roles in emotional regulation.
The threat system is a protective mechanism that when activated with thinking can be led to overdrive. The threat system can be activated by flaws in appearance, social skills, work, and school-related difficulties, etc. Overdriven threat system leads to anger, anxiety or depression, and initiates responses such as fight, flight, or freeze response. under normal circumstances, the threat system is important and useful but can cause mental health issues if active too often.
The drive system motivates an individual to achieve things, work towards goals, and try out new things. When the drive system is overdriven, a failure to achieve a certain goal makes an individual work towards it even more, but after some time it becomes unhealthy and can turn into depression, anxiety and can trigger perfectionistic behaviors.
The soothe system has an important role in calming the drive and threat systems. The soothe system can be triggered when receiving compassion from others or from the self.
The opposite of self-compassion is self-criticism. Self-criticism is a thinking style where an individual thinks of themself in a highly negative and belittling way. Self-critical thoughts can be very cold and harsh, and unfortunately very common. In this way, people can call themselves ‘stupid’ and ‘idiots’ after making the smallest mistakes, and it can be done routinely. Negative thinking styles can lead to self-loathing, hatred, and disgust. If someone is experiencing significant self-criticism finding a psychologist in Melbourne can help.