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Straight Talk Recovery – Episode 5: Self-Compassion


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Transcription of Episode 5: Self-Compassion

Adam Kostiw: Hello, everyone, and welcome to another episode of Straight Talk Recovery with Raymond Moore, my good friend and buddy and myself, Adam Kostiw.

Raymond Moore: Hi, everybody.

Adam Kostiw: So today’s episode, we’re going to cover that very difficult topic of self-compassion, where we look at ourselves and how we deal with ourselves and what we need to do for ourselves.

Raymond Moore: Yeah, I’d much rather look at everybody else than look at myself.

Adam Kostiw: So that’s why it’s so hard.

Raymond Moore: And that’s why it’s so hard. So, you know, one of the things with it self compassion. And we tend to typically talk about the populations we work with. But self-compassion is something that I think any listener, whether they’re listening for addiction and mental health information or just simply casually dropping by self-compassion is one of those things that I think all of us on a day-to-day basis struggle with. And, you know, at times in the therapy world, as I like to call it, or the recovery universe, we use certain words like self-esteem, self-compassion, these kinds of things. And I just wanted to make it very clear what self-compassion means. There’s lots of literature out there. You’ll get many kinds of, different definitions of what it actually means. But I think one of the easiest ways to remember it, just for the sake of yourself, is to think of self-compassion as self-love. Right. So just break down self-compassion for self-love. And that’s essentially what self-compassion is all about. So one of the things you’ll notice, and it’s much easier and I was only partially joking when I said, hey, can we talk about other people instead? Because I think the vast majority of people and I’m saying the majority and definitely not everybody out there, but compassion is essentially love.

But, you know, it tends to be easy and almost instinctual for a lot of us to have compassion for other people. It’s almost an automatic response. If I see you’re struggling Adam, you know, I’m going to be there and I’m going to do whatever I possibly can, to help you. If I see you’re having a rough day, I’ll approach you. Compassion is something. And I can definitely say I’ve seen this from you as well. It’s that it’s also something that’s instinctual. Right? It’s this very easy tendency to be there for other people when they need us. It becomes really, really different, though. And I mean, this is where it gets really complicated is compassion is easy. But if you add simply that one word in front of compassion, which is self, it changes the scope completely because what that ends up being, obviously, is self-love. And this is where it becomes challenging. So as easy as it may be for us to be compassionate to the people around us, to the people we love, the people we work with, it becomes that much more challenging when we have to turn that inward and start looking at ourselves and start self, self-loving or loving ourselves.

Adam Kostiw: Right. And I think, again that self, you mentioned earlier about being able to recognize that in others when someone’s struggling when someone is just not having the greatest day or whatever, it’s because we’re so used to looking for the cues. Right. So we can see this person’s face. You can see when they’re sad, we can see by their body language. All this we talk about communication and all the nonverbal communication and we pick up on that. And we’re really most of us, especially those in the compassion field, are built for that. You know, there’s something underlying there. And so it’s almost like catnip. We’re drawn towards that because we feel the need that, you know, we want to do something right. And in some cases, that’s almost a co-dependency with that. But what happens is, is we can’t see ourselves. Right. Our eyes are focused outward, not inward. Can you imagine if we could walk around and throw up a mirror at any given time and look at ourselves? What that would and that would be terrifying to recognize? Oh, well, this is what I’m showing other people, because we wonder sometimes, right, when, like you said, you see it in me and sometimes you come over to me and say, are you OK today or whatever? And I’ll be like, why is he asking that question sometimes? Right.

And because I don’t recognize it that I’m actually portraying that, you know, something in my body is saying, hey, you know what, I need a pat on the back. I need that you know that a little bit of comfort, right this second, I’m not having the greatest, but yet it’s the most difficult to do for ourselves. So first and foremost is with self-compassion. So we got to recognize that we need it, that that’s where it starts, right. So we may be fantastic at having compassion for another person, and this is a general statement, as most people have the most difficulty when it comes to self-compassion. And it’s not just in recovery. It’s just you can almost go into any single home and meet anybody at some point in time. They struggle with it, right. We all struggle with self-doubt. We all struggle with self-esteem. At times. We beat ourselves up over the little mistakes sometimes. Right. We should have could have done that differently or whatever. And we sit there in our head allowing that to become a tornado that just gets faster and faster and rips us apart.

Raymond Moore: Yeah, and that’s the tough part, right? I mean, in theory, how to love yourself. I mean, throw on an episode of Dr. Phil, you know, Google How to love yourself. You get five good tips, whatever it may be. But in reality, it’s much more challenging. Right. I’ll give you an example. The last podcast we did on codependent relationships. Right. For the ten minutes after we did that podcast, I kicked the crap out of myself for five minutes, basically, you know, am I done? Is my you know, am I losing my abilities? Literally, because I had, you know, a couple of moments where I wasn’t at my best and literally questioned, do I still have the ability to share and inspire and, totally killed myself in those five minutes and took five minutes to kind of bring myself back by being a little gentle on myself and saying, you know what? you did the best you could. Probably you could have done a little bit better. Let’s learn from the experience. But it’s one of those things. And I mean, if it was you telling me that, you know what, I don’t feel like it went well or I don’t think I would be all over saying, you know, what is wrong with you? You know, you’re amazing at what you do. And I wouldn’t think twice about it. But yet when it comes to myself, I’m very, very critical. And I think I’ve definitely seen this in a lot of the literature. Much of it talks about we are always our own biggest critic.

Adam Kostiw: That’s right.

Raymond Moore: Right. And I think that’s something that is natural and it’s something that will never change. But it’s how we actually critique ourselves. And I think most often we are leaning a little more toward being unfair with ourselves in terms of how we critique ourselves, not necessarily critique ourself in the sense of did I bring my best that I do this, but more so, you know, oh, that was just not very good. People are not going to like it. I’m not good at what I do, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. We tend to criticize ourselves a little too hard. And one of the issues with doing that is, again, if you’re doing this on a regular basis and I did talk about the wiring in the last group, if you’re consistently doing this on an ongoing basis, you actually start to believe this stuff. Right. So kind of being a little more gentle with yourself, I definitely know I would not allow anybody in my life essentially to speak to you the way I would speak to myself without jumping in and say, like, how dare you? The guy’s a rock star. I love the guy. He’s amazing. But yet so myself, it’s kind of like, hey, do I still got gas left in the tank in and so on and so on. So I think part of self-compassion is recognizing the how we think part. Right. And that if I would not speak this way to say, Adam or other people in my life, then I shouldn’t be speaking that way, a.k.a. thinking that way about myself.

Adam Kostiw: That’s right. Exactly. And I was chuckling earlier when you said that because I was almost starting off this, as in, you know, I was talking about you, Ray. We talked about this because I knew that you’re going to bring that topic up, but how you beat yourself up. But one of the things is when we do this also is we have this idea in our heads that all our little mistakes that we make, everybody else notices. We truly believe that the things that we pick up on everyone else is going to pick up on when in reality is the majority of people aren’t paying attention that close to, you know, a little word slip or something small that you did. It’s actually for them in most cases, inconsequential. It means nothing to them. Yet here we are beating ourselves up, telling ourselves everyone’s going to notice. What are you going to think of me? Oh, you know, I think the best place if anybody ever wants to actually see this really happening, someone beating themselves up, all they got to do is go on to the golf course and listen to a golfer who hits a bad shot. And it’s incredible, and it’s actually we had to be very careful too that it’s learned, right.

So what happens is if we do it and we do it verbally to ourselves and we’re standing beside one of our children, if we have children, they pick up on that. Right. And that’s the example of the golf courses. I have a really great buddy. Totally just destroys himself on the golf course. Whenever he has a bad day, he verbally doesn’t even hold it in. And it’s not the inner voice, it’s the full outside. You are an idiot. What a bleep and bleep bleep bleep like this. And one day I go golfing. I’m with his father and I honestly start hearing the exact same words. I thought it was him standing behind me. I turn around and it’s his father and it could have been the same person. It was identical. And I get it. That’s where the learning aspect comes from. So if we pay attention to those around us and we show some compassion to ourselves and show others that we are compassionate to ourselves, it does also have an effect on others. So here we are on the caregiving kind of role this and we’re trying to help other people. But we also need to show them that we can actually be compassionate to ourselves.

Raymond Moore: Definitely. And looking at just going back to the compassion versus self-compassion that one of the things I really love to observe and then I find under my breath, I chuckle a lot is the greeting that most of us have to each other that, hey, how are you doing? Like good morning. How are you? Right. Most often nobody really wants to hear about that. I mean, it’s very rare. Do you walk in to say, like, you know, your local Circle K or Esso gas station. The guy asks, how you doing? And then you sit there and say, well, you know what? My wife doesn’t love me the way I used to, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. Right. So one of the things that we actually do with compassion is that we tend to ask other people how they’re doing. Right. And a lot of times they may be pure, may be genuine. A lot of times it’s simply just a greeting. But we tend to ask people how they’re doing. A lot of times we may get a response. Things are OK, things are good. You know, whatever covid sucks, the weather’s hot, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. But very rarely do we ever stop to ask ourselves that question. We’re so busy and probably say that multiple times per day. How are you doing? What’s going on? You know, how are you feeling, et cetera, et cetera. Rarely do we ever really stop, slow down enough to actually ask ourselves, how am I doing? And I know when I kind of turn that back on to people when they’ve kind of in the more group settings, a lot of times I will ask people like, you know, how are you doing? You ever ask yourself how you’re actually doing? And I notice a very quick change in body language for people because actually stop for one second and actually think, well, how am I actually doing? And in that moment that you can actually see that they’re having a physiological response because they’re likely not doing very well.

So a lot of times, simply with self-compassion, it is as simple. Again, I use that very, very loosely. It’s as simple as checking in with yourself and actually asking yourself, how am I doing? And being OK if you’re not having a good day and just soothing yourself the same way I would soothe you if I saw that you were not having a good day. Right. Speak to yourself the same way you would speak to someone else. Tried to snap that narrative that you have in your head. And if you notice, my example was, you know, I wasn’t happy with the podcast. Am I any good? Can I inspire people anymore? Should I still be doing this type of work? Like, that’s a pretty extreme kind of narrative within a five-minute span. Right. So changing the narrative and actually coming from a more softer perspective. So you know what? I’m not doing very well right now.

You know, I’m having a rough day or I am feeling certain feelings today and I’m overwhelmed or whatever it may be in actually acknowledging that the same way you would walk up to a friend or significant other whatever and validate the fact that perhaps they’re having a rough day or see those noticeable signs that somebody is having a rough day and actually dedicate or allocate that time to actually soothe that other person, maybe doing the same to yourself. Quietly.

Adam Kostiw: Yeah.

Raymond Moore: Just checking in. And, you know, I know a lot of people use meditation for this. A lot of people, you know, take that personal time for themselves. But the vast majority of people are going 100 miles an hour. Right. And if you’re surrounded by people all the time, if you’re more of a people person or your job takes a lot. A lot of times your energy is dispersed to everybody else. And it becomes very, very challenging to get that time to really check in with yourself. And I know for a lot of people, what they do is they actually use distractions. So their day goes on really, really fast. They come home, put on Netflix, watch four or five hours of Netflix, do whatever it is that kind of takes them away from what may be going on for them. And then the day starts again the next day, so part of developing self-compassion is actually checking in with yourself, listening to that narrative in the voice. Sorry, that narrative in your head, listening to that voice, that message that you’re constantly giving yourself over and over again and thought blocking that and stopping and being like, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. You know, don’t be so rough on yourself. Right? Because one of the things I often notice is that people are always, always very strongly against bullying. Right. And I know when I throw this out to large groups of people, I often tell them, I say, look, you know, how many of you are against bullying? And you see proud hands go up in the air. Right. Like just like absolutely. We’re all and every person I’ve ever done this with has always put up their hand adamantly against it. And then I flip it back to them and actually tell them they’re hypocrites because they’re bullying themselves and essentially that’s what we’re doing. Imagine if I took my thoughts and put them on to you. So my example from earlier. Let me put that onto you, Adam. So, you know, now if I were to say to you right now, the last podcast you did was terrible, right? You kept losing your train of thought. I’m not sure if that you have the ability to do this job anymore. I mean, that is, but that just comes across like it’s hurtful to you. It’s arrogant. It’s ignorant. It’s rude. It’s abusive. Right.

Adam Kostiw: And if I heard you say that to someone else, I’d be one of those people who step in to stop it. Right.

Raymond Moore: Of course. And that’s exactly the point. So what ends up happening is we’re also adamantly against this. But yet when we’re left to our own thoughts and where we’re left to our own self, all of a sudden it’s perfectly OK to say things like, you’re no good, you’re not attractive, you’re not worthy of love, you’re not this. And insert your particular way of thinking here. Right. So that’s why self-compassion is so important because we have to learn and I know this sounds a little bizarre, but we actually need to learn to treat ourselves the way we treat other people.

Adam Kostiw: Yeah, exactly. And one of the things that I hear often, you know, you keep talking about that voice or the narrative that’s going on because it’s a narrative, right? We all of a sudden we say it enough times, it becomes our story and we start believing it. So if we talk about doing a really good person who does a lot of manipulating. Right. And we say that you know, how did they learn to lie so well? They learned to lied so well because they lied to themselves first. Right. Well, the same thing happens here is, you know, we’re going to be compassionate to ourselves. We’ve got to start there. We actually need to learn to be good for us. You know, it’s amazing how we can be so compassionate to others yet not to ourselves. We know what’s involved. Right. So it’s not like we don’t we’ve just told ourselves this story that prevents us from allowing to do this. Right. And one of the ones I hear all the time is I’m not good enough. Right. I need to be better. Well, hold on a second. Right. You know. Ray, you are good at your job. Actually, you’re great at your job. Right. That’s the story we need to be telling ourselves. Right. or you know what? Today, you know what? It was an off day a little bit but I can forgive myself for that because I know that any other time I’m rocking it, I’m just shaking the foundations.

I’m making such a big difference. Right. That I know I can do this, and that has to do with confidence. Right. But that big piece of self-acceptance, we have to accept us for who we are and that things are not going to be perfect every single day. But we don’t have to beat ourselves up for it. We need to forgive ourselves for it, OK, you know what we tell our kids when they drop a glass of milk? That’s OK. And I’ll just, you know, let it go, you know, don’t cry over spilled milk,yet. You know, we make a typo in an email and at the end of the world. Right. Oh, why didn’t spell-check not correct at all? My bosses are going to pick up on that and they’re going to think I’m incompetent. Right. We all we regret things and then we sit there and let it ruminate in our heads and all of a sudden a small thing in the beginning of the day can take over the whole day. Right. Going back to again asking that question about how are you? And all that is we also need to be able to practice actually telling someone who’s safe what’s going on.

Right. All too often we hide it. You talked about asking that question about how you are and all that. Think about those people and mean you are both in relationships. Right. And we come home, right. Oh, how was your day, honey? Please don’t answer. Please don’t answer. Because we know that actually for them, it’s safe they feel safe to tell us about all the bad things or all the things that frustrated them. Right. And they need that. Right. And this is a way that we can practice for ourselves is we have to first recognize what’s going on with us, then to be able to practice a self-compassion that. Right. Or the other one is I wanted to add is how many times we see someone walking down the hall with a big smile and they’re all kind of overcompensating over bubbly and you’re wondering, oh, what’s really going on for them. Right. Because they may stick to the adage of fake it till you make it right. But again, it’s a distraction, right? It’s like all of a sudden let’s distract let’s not actually deal with what’s going on in my head. And so let’s do anything else to not allow anybody else to know that I am not having the greatest day.

Raymond Moore: And it really gets you nowhere. I mean, the whole idea of kind of holding it in and, you know, kind of sucking it up, I think is one of the big terms that we hear. It really gets you nowhere. And I’m not going to give you a personal spin of how I really learned about self-compassion. So one of the things I realized a lot and one one of the things I like to share with a lot of people, this sounds absolutely absurd, but I always like to ask people whose thoughts are you actually thinking? Right. Because a lot of times with self-compassion too growing up as a kid, we see things we become we experience the things. We start to really kind of understand how we feel about our things as we develop and we move forward in our life. So one of the things that I’ve often challenged people to do is really to get them to look at whose thoughts are they actually thinking. So when I think that I’m not good enough or if I think I’m not strong enough or I think I’m not and insert whatever it may be here, are those actually my thoughts or was this something that was conveyed to me at some point in my life by somebody close to me that I’ve adopted and made it into my own way of thinking? Self-compassion is about finding that authentic self, right is really starting to look at who you actually are.

So outside of the perhaps what maybe you’ve come to believe as being true and actually looking at what is really true. And I know a great example is a lot of people talk about, you know, I’m not that smart. I hear that one a lot. My favorite is when I hear I’m not that book smart, right. And, you know, I always ask the same question. I said, how do you believe that people that are book smart get smart? And then they say uhhhh and I say they read books. Right. It’s not something that you’re just naturally good at. People that are book smart tend to read books. People that are not book smart tend to believe they’re not book smart, hence why they do not read books.

Right. So again, to give my own little personal spin on this is I remember going to a therapist back in the day and I remember walking in and telling them all these things that were happening in my life. And one of the things he said to me was he goes, you know what? You sound like a very compassionate person. Right? And I was like, thank you. And I felt great about that. And I was like hey you know I’m compassionate. And then he said, But it sounds like you have no self-compassion whatsoever. And I was like, Well, what do you mean? And at this point, I’m actually counselling people. And I’m actually, you know, I’m in the field of work and I’m looking at this. And he goes, yeah, it sounds like you really struggle with self-compassion. Right? And then I was like, well, no, like I mean, I love myself. And I actually heard and felt myself lying to him. And I’m not saying because honestly, I will honestly say that I think it was one of the first times I actually checked in with myself in that area to actually see. So when he actually asked me, where is your self-compassion, all of a sudden I felt this emotional response and I got tough. Right. And I kind of got through the session and I went home and it was ruminated in my brain like, why do I struggle? Why is it so easy for me to love everybody else to do what I possibly can for everyone else? Why do I struggle with just sitting with me? Why can’t I say something to myself? Like, you know what, Ray? Be proud of yourself. Right? You’ve been through a lot. Be proud of yourself and really like why I cannot seem to do this. So I was like, you know what? That’s the way I am, right? That’s just the way I am. And that’s a perfect copout for everyone when they don’t really want to work on something.

So I learned how damaging this was. And I won’t say damaging, but how not productive it was when I met my wife. So I remember when I met my wife, she said to me one time, she said, you know what, you can continue the tough-guy bravado. Right, and all of that. But I’m going to love you, right. Whether you choose to love yourself or not, you can continue the whole tough guy thing. Not have feelings, be a tough guy, all of this other stuff, but just so you know, I’ll be sitting here loving you. I remember crying, I remember being upset and not being able to hold it anymore, like, oh, she totally knocked me out on this one right. And I started to realize that’s when the vulnerability came for me. Right. It’s actually opening up and talking about myself and talking about things that I struggle with, that all of a sudden I start to see how I saw myself and that how I needed to start actually looking inwards rather than outwards. Right. And I started to see a major difference in my life. So self-compassion, in a sense, is one of the most important things to do in any form of recovery, because, again, it also impacts other relationships as well. Right. You love yourself. You’ll likely be in a better position to love other people.

Adam Kostiw: That’s right. And I think that’s a great place to end. It is the fact that you know, to be able to love yourself is to be able to love someone else as well. And that’s the place to start. So, again, everyone out there, that’s where you need to take a look, look deep down inside, look at the story that you’re telling yourself. So on behalf of Raymond Moore and myself, Adam Kostiw, I’d like to thank you for listening to another edition of Straight Talk Recovery. And there’ll be more to come. And we want to leave you with remember. Keep talking.

Raymond Moore: Bye, everybody.


Other Episodes

Episode 1: Introduction

Episode 2: Anger

Episode 3: Relationships

Episode 4: Co-dependency

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