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“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection” 

– Buddha

Staying mentally and emotionally healthy requires willfulness and dedication. However, what may be considered even more important is the power of self-love. The ability to look inwards and bring compassion to ourselves is one of the greatest gifts we have to offer in terms of our mental health. Mindful Self-Compassion is a tool used by patients and therapists alike to cope with the challenges of life, become resilient and transform self-worth. 

 

Sharon Younkin, LICSW discusses how the awareness of our feelings allows us to respond in ways that bring us comfort. She refers to a two-step process that uses the Polyvagal Theory which was presented at the 2022 Compassion in Therapy Summit by Deb Dana, LCSW to bring comfort to ourselves: 

1) Reflect on your physiology and determine which zone you are in: 

  • social engagement/green zone (calm, curious, grounded), 
  • fight or flight/yellow zone (worried, anxious, frustrated, irritable)
  • shut down/freeze/red zone (sad, helpless, numb) 

2) Use a ventral vagal anchor exercise to bring yourself into the green zone and cope with life’s challenges in a calm, curious, and grounded manner.

 

If you’ve identified that you are in the yellow or red zones, try the following ventral vagal anchor exercises by Deb Dana:

 

  1. Who? Think of a person/pet/spiritual being that helps you to be in the present moment feeling “organized enough, safe enough, welcomed.”

      2. What? Identify some things in your space that you can pick up that also help you to feel present (tea, jewelry, comfortable clothes, shells).

      3. Where? Think of something you do or a place you go that does not take much energy or effort but also helps you to feel present (back porch).

      4. When? Think of the steady/predictable moments during your usual routine (mid-afternoon on the porch when all is quiet and the sun is warm).

 

Coping with life’s challenges can be difficult, but by using Mindfulness and Self-Compassion, we can face these challenges with loving confidence while staying in the present moment. Sharon Younkin leads a Mindful Self-Compassion group with RICBT to discuss with patients how to transform self-worth and build resilience using evidence-based tools. These tools allow people to cope with the difficulties of life with newfound acceptance and compassion for themselves.

*If you’d like to learn more about the Mindful Self-Compassion group, please visit https://www.ricbt.com/groups/mindful-self-compassion/ and submit your group interest form today!

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