Easier Said than Done

If you read last week's blog post Love Yourself Anyway, you may have thought, “Easy for you to say. She doesn't have the same negative traits that I have.” Or you may have thought something like, “I don't deserve to forgive myself and love myself anyway.” Or perhaps you come from the school that says the best way to motivate is with the stick, “I'd just become lazy and complacent if I do that. I have to push myself to be better.”

If your reasons are described above or are other ones, know that you are not alone. Many people struggle with the idea of self-compassion. The approach that they learned in their family of origin worked to get them here after all. Why should they do it differently?

The latest research in neuroscience sheds some light on this. When we motivate ourselves through self-recrimination, blame, guilt, or 'shoulding' on ourselves, we unwittingly push our brains into a survive state. Even if we're just in the beginnings of the survive state, our brains start releasing stress hormones like cortisol and norepinephrine. These chemicals are designed to provide our limbs with the ability to run and our arms with the ability to strike and fight. They put us into a hyper-aware state in which we see, hear, and even smell differently. And to top it off, the neo-cortex, which is the seat of creative thinking and innovative problem solving, takes a break as it is not needed when the amygdala is in charge.

All the above adds up to the grim fact that when we push ourselves in a mean way, we are setting ourselves up to do our worst, not our best.

Conversely, if we support our brains to go into a thrive state by using self-compassion and tenderness towards ourselves, all kinds of good hormones are released. Oxytocin, the feel good hormone, sweetens our mood while at the same time helps with the suppression of cortisol. Endorphins are released that elevate our mood and seem like they increase our stamina. Dopamine, the reward hormone, comes into play if we add some acknowledgement of what we have accomplished through self-compassion. And serotonin helps us relax, chill, and feel good about moving forward using the carrot, rather than the stick.

With all these positive hormones permeating our body and our brain, our neo-cortex takes its rightful place as the director of innovating, deciding, planning, and executing. By bringing in some self-compassion, we are inviting in the best of ourselves. We are setting ourselves up for success. And by the way, the experience of feeling joy, the pride of accomplishment, and the sweetness of success.

Really, doesn't it seem that it is worth working hard to learn the skills to help yourself shift from self-blame to self-compassion when you know what you're doing in your brain?

Enjoy the journey.

Judith Bell, M.S., Master LHEP™

Judith Bell, M.S., Master LHEP™

Judith is the founder and president of Rewire Leadership Institute®. A master facilitator, consultant, teacher, and coach, she has created and facilitated personal growth, team development and organizational change seminars, coached executives and teams, facilitated strategic planning and high visibility meetings, and supported culture change for over four decades. Judith works with a diverse range of companies from government agencies, non-profit, Fortune Global 500, to small and mid-sized family owned businesses including such organizations as NASA, Seaflow, Total Oil, Restoration Hardware, San Antonio Water System, and Culver Company.

Superb at supporting individuals, pairs, and teams in developing the skills necessary to realize their full potential, Judith helps executives, managers, and staff gain the ability to respond flexibly and rapidly to their changing environment. Through extensive experience and research, she utilizes a number of different approaches including the FIRO theory, systems theory, cybernetics, neuroscience, cognitive, positive, and success psychology.

As one of the world’s leading experts on the FIRO theory, she trains consultants internationally. A consultant’s consultant, Judith mentors facilitators, coaches, therapists and other professionals in the integration of the FIRO theory in their work. From 1981 until 2004, she worked closely with Dr. Will Schutz, the creator of FIRO theory. Independently, Judith developed FIRO Theory Profiling, which has been lauded as the first innovation in the FIRO theory instruments aside from Dr. Schutz’ own developments. She continues to develop courses that synthesize her studies and experience and are based in FIRO theory.

Starting in her teenage years, Judith has been a pioneer in her passion for authenticity, clear communication, and positive change. She is lauded for her ability to see others’ potential and help them realize it—be they individuals, pairs, teams, or organizations. Judith’s zest for life, appreciation for others, and generosity of spirit inspires those with whom she works.

An honor’s student at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, Judith’s desire and passion to learn about authenticity motivated her to move her studies to The Institute for Creative and Artistic Development (ICAD) in Oakland, California. As the youngest student in their teacher training program, she created and graduated with an undergraduate degree that focused on authenticity through California State University, Sonoma. Continuing on her quest to study authenticity and creativity, Judith began taking courses at California State University, Hayward where she also created and graduated with a unique Master’s degree that focused on communication, transformation, and the creative arts.

Interested in systems and change, Judith began experimenting with her innovative action-oriented approach to assess and intervene with families, groups, and organizations. Through this work, she became a much sought-after instructor, training masters and doctoral students in her seminal work. As chair of a psychology program focused on Creative Arts Therapies at Antioch University, San Francisco, she developed curriculum and continued to serve as guest faculty and lecturer at universities nationwide.

In addition to leading Rewire Leadership, Judith and her husband, Daniel Ellenberg, co-founded Relationships That Work®, where she serves as Vice President. She and Daniel co-authored Lovers for Life: Creating Lasting Passion, Trust, and True Partnership, which applies the principles of Rewire Leadership Institute® to romantic relationships. Recently, they co-authored a chapter in Mastering the Art of Success: Volume 8. With Matt White, Judith recently co-authored Leading with Courage.

Read more

Sign up for PeRLs of Wisdom

Our newsletter, PeRLs of Wisdom, will be emailed to you with resources related to the monthly topic such as additional activities, practices, discussions, quotes, and announcements of upcoming programs. You can unsubscribe from PeRLs of Wisdom at any time.