How can compassion allow you to take back your own agency?
So that's how the session starts, she says "I've had an epiphany, my time is not my own" Isn't it I say, and what is the feeling around that I ask? My fear of the inevitable she says. Elaborating, she tells me about wrestling with ideas of control and the ever present thoughts of some failure or catastrophe. I offer an image that springs to mind of her running and looking back over her shoulder to see where the catastrophe is. "Yes it feels like my fear is with me all the time and it's gaining on me, as my fear of failure increases the faster I have to run". So, what happens now I ask? "I've just got back from holidays and It's like I just have to get back on that old treadmill." How long have you been back I ask. "Nearly a week, she says." And you haven't got back on yet, I offer? "No she says, I have been talking to my partner about it and we agree it's hard." What's hard I ask? "Being creative, there's no time, it all routine, all tasks from one day to the next". But there seems to be chance to do something different, I offer. Since you (at some level) can see how doing the same old thing will get you more of the same, which is clearly not working for you, or what you want for the year ahead.
My client is a similar age to me and she asks if I remember the promise "they" made (the internet, the phone the devices, the software) "its all in the palm of your hand" she says, "it was supposed to be easy, better"! I nod knowingly. But that's not it for you? "No", she offers with intensity. What feeling do you get, I ask? "I feel cheated, frustrated and empty". I see; So all that effort, all that frenzy of activity and control. It's like you're on the treadmill holding on for dear life as your legs are running faster and faster trying somehow not to fall, which seems inevitable. The client's frustration shift to sadness, "I just can't keep up, and I don't know what to do."
The change process can be difficult, even after realising that change would be beneficial, it is often difficult to know where to and how to start. This is especially true if there is a history of not being successful with past attempts at making changes to ones life. An often effective counselling approach for change is Compassion-Focused Therapy (CFT), which focuses on the use of compassion as a therapeutic tool to help clients change their thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. The use of compassion as a focus of counselling can help client's to develop a more positive and self-compassionate relationship with themselves and others, which in turn can lead to a number of positive changes.
One of the ways that change can be effected for client's using compassion as a focus is through the development of self-compassion. Self-compassion involves treating oneself with kindness, understanding, and forgiveness. This can help to reduce feelings of shame and self-criticism, and to increase feelings of self-worth and self-acceptance.
Another way that change can be effected for clients using compassion as a focus is through the development of compassionate motivation. Compassionate motivation involves setting goals that are consistent with one's values, and taking action to make changes in one's life that align with those values. This can lead to a sense of purpose and fufillment, and can help individuals to feel less stressed and more engaged in their everyday life.
Lastly, compassion-focused therapy can help clients to develop compassion for others, which can lead to improved relationships and greater empathy towards others. This can also lead to a feeling of connectedness to the world around us, which is essential for our well-being.
Overall, the use of compassion as a focus in counselling can lead to a wide range of positive changes, including improved self-compassion, greater motivation, better relationships and more empathic connections to others.
CACT is a holistic and empowering approach that can help individuals who are struggling with feelings of inadequacy and stress. It encourages you to be kind and understanding towards yourself, while also emphasising the importance of personal agency in t process. CACT helps you to accept and acknowledge your thoughts and feelings without judgment, and to develop compassion towards yourself and others. This can include learning to be more mindful of your own thoughts and feelings, and practicing self-compassion and compassion towards others. Additionally, CACT emphasises the importance of setting meaningful goals that align with your values, and taking active steps towards achieving them. By focusing on acceptance, compassion, and personal agency, CACT can support you to reduce feelings of inadequacy and stress, and to live a more fulfilling, meaningful and satisfying life. It empowers you to take ownership of your own change process, and actively work towards a more compassionate and self-compassionate life.