Compassion-Oriented Psychotherapy

 

Compassion-oriented psychotherapy is compatible with third wave positive psychological therapies. Specifically, Compassion-oriented therapy seeks to integrate science-based findings of the field of positive psychology with traditional  Jewish sources. The integration of these schools of therapy with traditional Jewish sources is represented by the acronym CאRE which stands for: Compassion, Acceptance, Responsibility, and Enlightenment  

There has been an explosion of research on the subject of Compassion and Self-Compassion. In the last decade, research psychologists have run more than 1,500 studies which prove that going easier on ourselves, giving ourselves a break, accepting our imperfections - in short,  becoming an inner-ally rather than an inner-enemy, opens the door to prodigious emotional, physical and spiritual growth.

People who score high on tests of self-compassion have:

  • Less depression

  • Less anxiety

  • Are happier and more optimistic

  • Have overall better mental health

  • Remember that everyone suffers from time to time

  • Don’t exaggerate the extent of their struggles

  • Have greater courage and resilience when facing adversity

  • Cope better with divorce, trauma and chronic pain

  • Are more giving and compromising with others

  • Have better marriages

  • Are more forgiving

  • Exercise more, eat more healthfully, drink less alcohol and go the doctor more regularly

  • Take more responsibility for their actions

  • Are more likely to apologize when they offend another

  • Have less fear of failure

  • Are more likely to reach their goals

  • Have high personal standards

  • Don’t beat themselves up when they fail

  • Are more likely to persist in their efforts after failing

Self-Compassion and Compassion for Others

 

“And you shall love your neighbor like yourself…” (Lev. 19:18)

 

Rabbi Akiva teachers: "This is the fundamental principle of  the Torah" (Sifra 2:16:11)

Why are we directed to love others like we love ourselves? After all, the Bible could simply have said: “Love your neighbor as much as you can!" The wisdom of this teaching is profound. The first step is  learning to love  ourselves, and only then can we genuinely connect with others with true love and compassion. Our goal, says Rabbi Shimon Shkop, is not to force ourselves to love people, but rather to develop our self-compassion and then extend it. When that happens, we recognize our "I" in our families, communities and ultimately in the whole world.  True self-compassion is bi-directional. The moment we generate compassion for our own struggles, we automatically feel more compassion for the pain of other people.

Why do so many very kind people berate themselves so harshly? In part it is because there are strong cultural forces that discourage us from treating ourselves with the same sensitivity and compassion that we would give to a close friend or even to a stranger. Contrary to traditional wisdom and research in self-compassion which exceeds 1,500 studies, societal conditioning has led us to erroneously believe that self-compassion leads to selfishness and narcissism. People think that if they go easy on themselves and are too soft with themselves, when they have a setback, or do not succeed at something, they will turn out to be lazy, weak, self-pitying, unmotivated people who make excuses for bad behavior and seek to pin the blame for their failures and setbacks on others.  The truth is just the reverse. Only self-kindness can build us, not self-criticism as King David said: "The world will be built on kindness.” (Tehillim 89:3) From here we see that kindness, not criticism, is the root of good character.  Only through kindness to ourselves and others will the world be completed in peace.

  

I have been a psychotherapist for forty years. In that time, I have seen how unforgiving many people are with themselves when they cannot fulfill the harsh inner dictates of their conscience. I’ve also seen the damaging effects that self-criticism and self-effacement has on people. Think of all the generous, caring people you know who constantly tear at themselves with harsh criticism when they become aware of their real or perceived  shortcomings.

I am committed to spreading compassion and faith, not only through psychotherapy, but through the CARE Seminar which will be taught by CARE teachers and practitioners thoughout the world.

Your support will be highly valued in our mission to expand Project CARE

© 2020 Zev Ballen, Psy.D, LCSW