Why do we often default to shame? Tony Overbay, LMFT, often says that in working with individuals trying to overcome addiction or trying to be the very best version of themselves, exactly 0 out of a few thousand people he has worked with have used shame as a tool for recovery. Yet when we stop and let our thoughts take over, they often go back to the "what's wrong with me, I'm a bad person" story. Today Tony identifies the root causes of shame, why it doesn't help, and what to do when you find yourself heading down that path of toxic shame. Tony also shares the metaphor of the unwelcome neighbor, and he references Compassion Focused Therapy https://welldoing.org/types/compassion-focused-therapy
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[00:00:00] So imagine that you have a new house and you've invited all the neighbors over to a housewarming party. Everybody in the whole neighborhood is invited. You even put signs up all over the place that you are having the biggest housewarming party that you could ever imagine. So all the neighbors show up and the party is going great. But then here comes Joe the bum. He lives behind the supermarket. He lives in this trash dumpster. Everybody's familiar with Joe. They kind of avoid him because he's kind of stinky, smelly. And you think, Oh, man, why did he show up? But then you admit to yourself, you did say on the sign, literally, everybody is welcome. So can you see that it's possible for you to welcome him and really fully do that without liking that he's here? Because you can welcome him even though you don't think well of him and you don't have to like him. You don't have to like the way he smells or his lifestyle or his clothing. And you might even be embarrassed about the way he's dipping his hands into the punchbowl and drinking from his fists or what he's doing to the finger sandwiches. Your opinion of him, your evaluation of him is absolutely distinct from your willingness to have him as a guest in your home. Now, you could also decide that even though you said everybody was welcome, in reality, Joe is not welcome. But as soon as you do that, then the whole party changes and now you have to be at the front of the house and you're guarding the door so that you can't come back in and you're spending most of your time telling your people, I don't know why he's here.
[00:01:17] I don't want him in the do you guys or if you say, okay, you're welcome, but you don't really mean it, you only mean that he's welcome. As long as he stays in the kitchen and he doesn't mingle with the other guests, then you're going to have to be constantly on guard and making him do that, making him stay in the kitchen. And your whole party is going to be about managing Joe the bum. And meanwhile life's going on, the party is going on. But there you are guarding Joe the bum. It's just it's not going to enhance your life. It's not going to make you very present or have a good time at the party. And it's definitely going to put a whole different energy and vibe for all the guests that are in the party. So it turns out it's not much of a party. It's more like work. So what this metaphor is about, of course, is all the feelings, memories, thoughts, emotions, all of the thoughts, the things that show up that you don't like because they really are just more like bums at the door. They're like, Joe. Now, the issue is the stance that you take in regard to all these things, all of your own stuff, all your own thoughts and your feelings, your emotions, all of those things are the bums. Welcome. Can you choose to welcome them in even though you don't have to like the fact that they came? Because if not, what's that party going to be like? What's your life going to be like if you're constantly on guard trying to keep Joe the bum or the thoughts or feelings or emotions or experiences that you've had? If you're trying to keep them locked up into the kitchen or if you're trying to protect them from coming into the door anyway, because the reality is in life, everybody's invited all of your thoughts, your feelings, your emotions, and they're invited because you have this sign out that says everybody's welcome, everybody's invited.
[00:02:51] And so today we want to talk a little bit about who Joe the bum is in your own life. Now, I'm going to be talking about a particular version of Joe the Bum, which is called Shame and why that is so problematic. But I want you to think in terms of what is your Joe the bum that's going on in your life and how do you you don't have to then say, man, I love Joe the bum being here. But the truth is he's here and he's probably going to poke his finger in the middle of the finger sandwiches and dip his hand into the punch bowl every now and again. But we don't have to make it ruin the whole party for us. So coming up today, we're going to talk about Joe the bum. We're going to talk about shame and so much more on today's episode of The Virtual Couch.
[00:03:43] Come on, take a seat. I will hurt you.
[00:03:50] Hey, everybody, welcome to episode 321 of the virtual couch. I'm your host, Tony Overbay. I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist, certified, mindful habit coach, writer, speaker, husband, father of four, ultramarathon runner and creator of The Path Back, which is an online support and online pornography recovery group that is helping people get back to the best versions of themselves. And it is a phenomenal group. Go to Pathbackrecovery.com or you can go to Tony over eBay.com and shoot me an email and if you have questions about it. But we have these weekly group calls that I record and I don't do anything with the recordings that are just incredible. They really are. And it's just it's people that are turning away from unhealthy coping mechanisms. Now, the group is about turning away from pornography as a coping mechanism, but really the tools that we use, I'm telling you, could help with any sort of unhealthy coping mechanism that somebody turns to, whether it's their phone, whether it's gambling, whether it is food, all of these sort of things. So I'm kind of fired up about it because we had an amazing group call last night. There's a weekly group call that's part of the path back experience, but that was not meant to be a path back ad. But you can go there if you want to find out more information. But today's podcast I am really excited about because it's one where I just don't really have I have some thoughts, I have a few notes, I have about 15 different tabs up and we're just going to see where we go today.
[00:05:04] And I love these because I feel like this is just letting I want to take you on my train of thought. I got a text from someone that I am working with and the text just really had me thinking a lot and I've been using the and I asked this person for permission. I said I would love to use it on the group call or use it in a podcast. So that's what we're going to do today and we're going to see what direction it goes. So let me just dove right in with the text and we'll go from there. So the person said that they were sending some thoughts from 38,000 feet as they flew over the Atlantic Ocean. So they start off by talking about scrupulously, they said scrupulously or religious OCD as defined in my podcast from August 25th of 2021. And they said the desire and the need to confess any little thing or issue, because you might not be good enough or you might have had a bad thought and you're afraid that you might be slipping back into bad behaviors, he said. Your story of the man that you're working with, he said, who sounds like a recovering pornography addict, resonated with me and his OCD behaviors reminded me of how I've often acted and I have not done enough in talking about scrupulously.
[00:06:09] It is such an interesting and fascinating form of OCD, so OCD of religious thought. And as a matter of fact, my associate who comes on and does Amazing Podcast, we're planning an episode where we're going to talk more about scrupulously coming up pretty soon, but remembering that OCD attacks, whatever is important to someone. So if you grew up in a heavily religious home or if you happen to be pretty religious yourself and you have OCD like tendencies, then scrupulously can be how it manifests itself. And the difficulty of scrupulously is that we all have various thoughts and things that flash through our mind at any given time. But if someone feels like those are bad thoughts or inappropriate thoughts or sexual thoughts or thoughts of harming somebody, then they feel bad. And so they can even take the thought that they have and feel like there's something wrong with them. And when I speak, it's interesting. I used to do this quite a bit, but I would just ask somebody when I'm warming up the crowd, so to speak, or waiting for everybody to arrive. And I would say, hey, how many of you had thoughts around that? Just you could move your arms or twist the steering wheel a little bit to the left, and before you know it, you're into oncoming traffic. And I think people would think, what what on earth is this guy talking about? But you would have some people sheepishly raise their hand.
[00:07:25] And then I just mentioned that a lot of people have those thoughts, or I would almost say most everyone has had a thought like that at some point. But there's a concept called inappropriate thoughts syndrome. And Inappropriate Thoughts Syndrome says that first and foremost, everybody everybody has thoughts that are inappropriate, that are going to harm somebody or want to do things that you would never think about doing in real life. But we have these thoughts that just pop up. And what Inappropriate Thoughts Syndrome says is that everyone has them. But that's the first tenant of inappropriate thoughts syndrome. The second tenant is that just because you think it doesn't mean you're going to do it? Because how many times have you done that? I talked about how when we go stay at hotels, we used to stay often. We would cram the entire family in one room. So that would be something like the Embassy Suites, and they would have four or five layers or floors of the hotel. And I would we would go up if we happen to stay on one of the higher floors and you would look over, they would have this giant koi pond, it seems like at every Embassy Suites hotel. And I would look over the edge and I would get the jelly legs and I would think, oh, my gosh, I could jump. And now have I ever. No, absolutely have not. But that thought would pop up in my head.
[00:08:30] And so, again, first tenant of this inappropriate thought syndrome is everybody has crazy, irrational, immoral, intrusive thoughts. But the second tenant is just because you have them doesn't mean that is what you are. Going to do or that you're a bad person. And the third tenant of inappropriate thoughts syndrome is that thought suppression doesn't work, which is what I say so often about reactance. The reactance is the reactance principle is an instant negative reaction of being told what to do, which is why when somebody tells you you need to calm down, it almost makes you feel like you want to worry more. Or if somebody says, Don't think about the chocolate cake with red sprinkles, your brain says, I am now thinking of that. So in the vein of inappropriate thoughts syndrome, telling yourself, don't think this inappropriate thought is not the way out. In reality, it is just to say that is interesting, that's a thought. But so when I talk about scrupulously where was I going with that, is that we all have these inappropriate random thoughts at any given moment. But when you are so steeped in, let's say, a religious culture, then you may feel that you are a bad person because of that and that will cause your anxiety to spike. And OCD is an anxiety disorder. So when your anxiety increases in your heart rate elevates and your brain is flooded with with cortisol and you're going into fight or flight mode, then that would be the obsession of the thought.
[00:09:53] And then the compulsion is what you want to do to relieve that anxiety. So in scrupulously a religious OCD, that compulsion may be a confession to a a bishop, a priest, a priesthood leader, or someone wanting them to then say, you are okay, your sins are forgiven you, your thoughts are okay, and you can just continue and go about your merry way. Or if someone is internalizing something like scrupulously and they have these thoughts, then they may have to have a mantra. They may say, Bless me three times or four times or five times, or they may feel like, okay, I need to read my scriptures every morning for 15 minutes. But then if I still had a bad thought during the day, that means I'm not doing enough. So I might have to do it 20 minutes, I might have to do it 30 minutes. I might have to start engaging in certain practice every morning and do it longer and longer as a way to alleviate this anxiety that comes with me feeling like I'm not enough. But I digress a little bit. So he says that your story of the man with that I was working with who sounds like a recovering pornography addict, resonated with me, and his OCD behaviors reminded me of how I've often acted. So he says, combine that with in the recovery support program that he happens to be working with, he said, We define ourselves as addicts.
[00:11:04] And he said, I am this, I am an addict. And every moment I need to be on my guard so I don't fall back into these bad behaviors that will lead me back to acting out in my addictive patterns, he said. Every day we need to make a phone call and we need to check in and share our issues and or problems that we've had during the day, he said. We need to connect because the connection is what we were missing and that's a reason for why we tend to act out. And I absolutely agree that that connection is something that is definitely missing because people that turned unhealthy coping mechanisms tend to isolate or feel like the what's wrong with me? And that very inner voice is what will lead people to turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms. So connection is absolutely a wonderful thing. And he says though, that what he's recognizing is that connection is good, but he worries that the emphasis on sharing the struggles or the parallels or the trials of the day may be a bit destructive. So he says combine that with a few weeks ago he and I were talking and we discussed how defining ourselves leads us back to that very issue or thought pattern. And what we were talking about was the interview that I had with Sam Tielemans on the virtual couch a few weeks ago, and Sam had such a powerful quote, and the quote he said was, The strongest force in the human personality is to act in alignment with how you see yourself.
[00:12:17] So however you identify yourself, you're going to find a way back to your home base. So Sam and I were talking about the concept of addiction, or if someone is labeling themselves as an addict. And according to this quote by Sam, which I think is so true, is that you will find yourself back to your home base. So even if you have not had setbacks, relapses, that sort of thing for a few weeks, if you continually define yourself as an addict, then you will eventually find your way back to that home base because the quote, good behavior or the things that you're doing that are not those that an addict would do, well, that's just temporary, because if you're telling yourself continually, I know this is good, but I am an addict, then will you eventually find yourself back to that home base? And in a religious context, if someone is starting with the OC, I'm a child of God, then will they then? Is it better than for them to find themselves coming back to that home base of I'm a child of God rather than I'm an addict? Or This is where I think where positive affirmations can be a very positive thing. Now, I've literally done podcasts on the the data, the research that you can find in the acceptance and commitment therapy literature about how the positive affirmations or just generic general positive self-talk can actually have a net negative effect if you aren't believing the story that you're telling yourself.
[00:13:33] But if you can have acceptance of that, this is the way that you are currently presenting or who you are, then you can move on from there. But I feel like the positive. Formation is not a negative thing. If you are saying I'm inherently a good person or I am lovable, I am lovable as I am. If that is the place that you're operating from, then you may have experiences where you might not be doing things that are in alignment with your values, but you know that you are going to return back to this home base of being lovable or being enough. So I love that from a concept of positive affirmations. If it is the I am lovable or I am enough because then regardless of the things that we may do throughout the day, or if we have these stretches where we really don't feel like we are being the person that we so desire or want to be, that we can return back to that home base of how we see ourselves as lovable or as enough. So he said, If I define myself as an addict, then I will always be an addict and view myself as an addict and do these prior behavioral patterns and they are always on the top of my mind, he said.
[00:14:32] This prevents me from allowing myself to view myself as anything else. And for him he says, especially as a son of God. So he said, Here's his take away the constant focus and emphasis on his addiction. The daily calls and check ins and defining himself as an addict may very well be keeping him in that mindset of being an addict and preventing him from moving away from how I view or define myself. And he said as an addict to how I need to view myself as a son of God, he said, this will allow and he's talking about a particular concept of the atonement, he says, to allow the atonement to more fully work in my life, as I will no longer be carrying around this burden of being an addict. And I will instead be better able to focus on being more of who I am or I need to be. And for him, that is feeling like he has a he is a son of God. And he said this may also be getting in the way of healing with his spouse as he still focuses on his individual behaviors and his need to improve versus focusing on her and the relationship and the potential damage that he has caused in the relationship because of acting out on the addiction, which he said also prevents him from even being more empathetic because he's still so focused on him.
[00:15:38] And so he ends that by saying he wants to discuss that at some point. But I really appreciate that because I feel like the the concept of defining who you are and that you are lovable, that you are enough, that you are a son or a daughter of God, that I feel like if we're going back to that concept of the strongest force in the human personality is to act in alignment with how you see yourself. So then it would be very important to identify yourself as lovable. It would be very important to identify yourself as I am enough. And that way, as you are going throughout your day and you're just having life experiences, that you're going to return to that home base of being lovable or being enough. And so that got me thinking more about the concepts of shame. And I went on a little bit of a deep dove, and so I wanted to share a few things that I learned and I feel like it's interesting. I was on a website called the National Institute for the Clinical Application of Behavioral Medicine, and I see a beam and there was an article that had it was talking about shame and it had a graphic that said Shame versus guilt. It says, you've probably heard clients use guilt and shame interchangeably to describe their feelings, but as practitioners, we know that shame and guilt are two very different emotions, each with its own purpose and path to healing.
[00:16:52] And that's why they created this infographic designed to help clients understand the key differences between the two emotions and understand why they may be experiencing a shame response, especially after a trauma. So I want to go through this infographic, but what was more interesting is the discussion that happened in the comments, and this is a website typically for clinicians, and I found it really interesting to see all the different takes on shame and where shame comes from and what to do with that. So shame is feeling bad about yourself as a person. Guilt is feeling bad about what you did. So they have a person under guilt. They said I did something bad and under shame. They said I am bad, I am worthless, I am unlovable, I am broken. So if we go back to that wanting to return back to this home base of belief, then I would rather have someone not have that basis of I am worthless, I am unlovable, I am broken or I am bad. Because then they could be having periods of where they feel alive and good and connected with people and things. But if they feel like but ultimately underneath all of this, I am worthless, I'm unlovable, I am broken, then that breaks my heart to think that's the home base that they will return to. So in the infographic it says, Why do we experience shame? And this is what I was particularly interested in.
[00:18:05] They said, Shame is a defense mechanism and it's a way we learn to keep ourselves safe from harm. In the past, it served an important purpose in the past because it kept us safe. But now it causes problems in our lives and relationships when we no longer need that shame to keep us. So I thought that was interesting because I wanted to know more and I found something in one of the comments below, and I'll get to that in just a second because I feel like that if it's if that shame served this purpose in the past, because I've always wondered where does this shame inherently come from? And so the graphic goes on to say, Shame can be a way we blame ourselves for something that happened to us that wasn't our fault. So when we feel ashamed, we may feel that we can control our safety by controlling our actions and our beliefs. So one of the comments now, let me jump down below and there's a lot of just pretty powerful comments. And I didn't realize honestly that people had so many different thoughts around shame, especially in the clinical world. And it took me down a path of a couple of different therapy modalities that I wasn't aware of. But here's what I love. This was someone from New Zealand who said the shame, quote, I am unlovable thought comes from a dialog that the mind creates to make sense of childhood abuse or neglect or abandonment, essentially the dialog of the unloved.
[00:19:18] But then they say, But I would add that no one that is is unloved, which I so agree with. They said it's both negative. Thoughts come from being mind identified and disconnected from source. The only true healing is to reconnect with your self, which is through a mindfulness or a meditation practice or true self compassion practices. So when knowing that whoever made you feel that way about yourself by withholding love could not have behaved any differently due to their own conditioning, their own childhood or life circumstances. That that means that they also suffered a lack of love. This understanding can allow the opportunity of forgiveness. Now, I feel like that can be really difficult because when we have these feelings of shame and I think that made a lot of sense, is that the shame comes from trying to make sense as a child of the I am. Because why else would someone abuse or neglect or abandon me? And here's where I want to put a couple of pieces together. This is where when I talk about everyone comes to into adolescence and into adulthood with their childhood abandonment and attachment wounds, I feel again like I cannot tell this, be it. Give this speech enough. Where when we come from childhood, when we come from birth with the I must get my needs met in order to survive. And then as we move forward from being a baby where we cry and everyone runs and attends to our needs, that then as we move into childhood, as we move into adolescence, that now life hits us in the face.
[00:20:41] And as we are expressing our needs, saying, I want something, I want that bike, I want that toy, I want, I want I want that. Then when those things aren't just handed to us, then we are still programed from this place of saying, okay, but I'm expressing my needs and people aren't meeting those needs. So what's going on? What's the deal? And I feel like that resonates here, where then that would feel to the kid, like abandonment or neglect or even some form of abuse. Because as a child, you're just you only know what you know at that point. You are very emotionally immature and you don't have a real sense of self and you don't have an understanding of what's going on in the world around you. If your parents don't buy you that bike for your birthday, it's not because Mom and dad are financially strapped or the housing market has taken a dump or dad lost his job. No, in your mind it's because they don't care about you. So that is viewed or registered to the childhood mind as a form of abandonment or neglect. And so that I feel like this makes sense as to where then that shame piece comes from. Because if we have to make sense of why, you know, why someone did not give us the things that we need because we're programed to say, I need to express myself to get my needs met or I will die.
[00:21:52] Then. Then I go back to this comment. The shame, the I am unlovable thought comes from a dialog that the mind creates to make sense of childhood abuse, neglect or abandonment, essentially the dialog of the unloved. So that is a way for the childhood brain to make sense of the fact that they didn't get all of their needs met. So I feel like even with that information alone, that as we move forward into adulthood and this is where we realize that if someone doesn't meet our needs, it is not because I am unlovable or I am broken. It's because it is just people that are doing people things that life is happening around us and everyone is having their own experience. And so we must yeah, we can express our desires, we can express our needs. But this is where so often we can only take care of the things that we can take care of, so we can express that. I would like something, but if that doesn't come to us, then that doesn't mean that something is wrong with us or that we are broken or that we are unworthy. So what did that do? It led me down a trail of a concept someone else mentioned on this in the comment section of this website called Compassion Focus Therapy.
[00:22:55] And so I really want to acknowledge that I knew nothing of compassion focus therapy. So I am literally going to read and then I guess react to the things that I'm reading, because I think that it sounds really, really fascinating. Compassion Focus Therapy is the concept of incorporating compassion training techniques into therapy to induce kinder thinking habits. And I'm reading this off a very well mind that says this type of therapy emphasizes the importance of compassion and self compassion in interactions with the world and the self. So compassion focus therapy stems from its it's a combination of Eastern and Western philosophies. So this in very well mind, they talk about Buddhist values that stress the influence that compassion has on others. Happiness as. Well as your own. So almost having that, all the tools that you need are within that. I am enough. I am lovable and that if someone isn't telling me or validating my experience, then bless their heart because they're having their own experience. So in the world of compassion, focus therapy, people learn to develop skills that enable them to experience kindness toward themselves and then a consideration to others through the use of things like mindfulness. But it implements techniques that help establish traits like acceptance and self respect to enhance the concepts of self assurance and positive emotion. And so compassion focus therapy can be really beneficial to people who are experiencing things like destructive thoughts.
[00:24:25] They talk about how compassion focused therapy works with depression or anxiety because it is trying to get at the core of these deep feelings of shame and self criticism. And when you go back and look at this, the way abandonment impacts us or the way that we feel like we are not enough because we didn't have our needs met as a kid. And then we move into our adult relationships, still a bit emotionally immature. And I feel like this is where I say both people in the relationship are typically emotionally immature, but then we don't have a way to really express the fact that, yeah, here's how I'm showing up and here's here are the needs that I would love to have met, but the other person is going through that same experience. So that is the pinnacle of emotional immaturity, and having a framework to be able to communicate is absolutely necessary. Which if you go listen to any of my podcast where I talk about my four pillars of a connected conversation, then I feel like that truly is necessary in order to be able to communicate your needs or to communicate your experience and not have your partner shut it down. So now I want to I want to shift my focus over to a website called well doing dot org because this is really interesting. It talks more about compassion focus therapy and says that it was developed by Professor Paul Gilbert.
[00:25:41] And they say it's a system of therapy that encourages people to be compassionate toward themselves and toward others, and that it was developed to combat high levels of shame and self criticism that come hand in hand with mental health difficulties. But here's what I thought was really interesting. So compassion focused therapy aims to restore or even introduce. And I love that concept because we don't know what we don't know, but introduce ideas of safety, compassion and reassurance in individuals who may have grown up in environments where these were lacking, whether it was critical or abusive or neglectful environments. So Gilbert said that when people hear the word compassion, they tend to think of kindness. But scientific study has found the core of compassion to be courage. A standard definition of compassion, he says, is a sensitivity to suffering in self and others. But I think here's the kicker with a commitment to try to alleviate it and prevent it. So the courage to be compassionate, he said, lies in the willingness to see into the nature and causes of suffering, be that in ourselves and others or in the human condition. The challenge is to acquire the wisdom we need to address the causes of suffering in ourselves and others. And I think so often we hear about people that are trying to understand or address the causes of suffering in others, but what about in ourselves? And so compassion, according to the website, is one of the most important declarations of strength and courage known to humanity.
[00:27:02] It is difficult, it's powerful, it's infectious and influential, and it's a universally recognized motivation with the ability to change the world. And this is where I want to address and talk about my emotional baseline theory, which is that when everything is coming at us on a daily basis, regardless of what is what we are doing or how we're showing up, we still have decisions to make. We still have things that are happening to us and things that we are a part of. And so we will respond differently depending on where our emotional baseline is, meaning that when things are going well or good in our life, when we are practicing self care, self compassion, then our emotional baseline is high and we're going to respond to the world in a very different way than when we do, when we feel like we literally don't want to get out of bed. But those decisions are still coming at us on a minute by minute basis. So in raising one's emotional baseline, I maintain that self care is not selfish, that self care, self compassion, that that is the key to raising one's emotional baseline. And the higher you can get your emotional baseline, the better you can show up and be able to respond to the situations around us. So when somebody feels like they are not enough, when they feel unworthy, when they feel unloved, then we so often want the external validation.
[00:28:15] We want the world to say we're okay, but in reality we need to operate from a base that we are okay and that as we turn to practicing self care and that can be anything from taking a walk, petting a dog or reading a book that you like, that you're going to bump your emotional baseline up a bit. And sometimes that bump is what you need to now engage with the next thing, whether that is to be a better parent or be a better spouse or show up at work better, or do these sort of things that will help. Change the world around you as you respond differently to all the things that are happening around you or all the things that are coming at you. So I really feel like this compassion focus therapy is speaking my language because we are addressing the core where that shame comes from, that it was trying to make sense of our own childhood abandonment and attachment wounds. That's those are my words. I know. And then but it also then speaks to compassion of this declaration of strength and courage, and that the more compassionate we are, then, the better that we are in a position to address the causes of suffering in ourselves and others. But in that addressing the cause of suffering in ourselves, I feel like we're going to be able to be in a better position to change the world.
[00:29:25] So a couple more things and we'll wrap this one up. How does compassion focus therapy work? According to CFT theory, there are three emotion regulation function systems that evolve throughout the human evolved throughout human history, the threat survival drive, which is excitement and the contentment which they call social safety systems. So again, that's the survival, the excitement and the social safety system. So Compassion Focus therapy suggests that these systems remain active and influence our thoughts or emotions or actions and our beliefs today. So the threat system, they say if we feel under threat, we may experience fear, anxiety or anger. And as a result of our feelings, we might exhibit particular behaviors for example, fight, flight or freeze. We might also develop cognitive biases relating to future threats or stimuli, you know, jumping to the wrong conclusions or assuming the worst or avoiding potentially risky situations. And I acknowledge this can be really difficult because as I say so often, the title of the book, The Body Keeps the Score says it all that oftentimes I feel like that threat system becomes conditioned. So if we become if we're around somebody and we they have been a threat or we view them as a threat, then our fight or flight response may kick in and that might might zap our ability to be very present. And so right now, just understanding that I think is a big key. So that's the threat system, the drive system.
[00:30:45] They say this system directs us toward important goals. It's also the system that developed to enable us to gather resources. This forward moving system gives us a sense of achievement and pleasure. A balance drive system is important. People with overactive drive systems may be more likely to seek people. Let me try that again. People with overactive drive systems may be more likely to seek pleasurable experiences, such as substances and other addictive behaviors. So if your threat system and drive system are not working together, then I think that compassion focused therapy, you can start to see that this imbalance will lead someone to turning to more. If the threat system's higher, then one might seek more from the drive system and look for substances to make one feel better. And then the contentment system is linked to feelings of calm, typically fostered by a sense of being socially connected, safe and cared for. They call this the soothing system, and they say it regulates both the threat and the drive systems. So if you grew up well, I was going to make a guess here. Let me read what they say. Using compassion focus therapy enhances the potential of the compassion based, soothing system and minimizes the influence of the threat system. A more enriched contentment system also activates a healthy drive system that encourages us to work toward positive goal attainment. So what does that saying? It's saying that a more enriched contentment system. So the contentment system is I feel like what is threatened when we're young and that is that system that leads to feelings of calm is typically fostered by a sense of being socially connected.
[00:32:10] Your sense of community this way I feel like we we so desperately seek community is that that that helps address the problems we may have had growing up with an imbalance in our contentment system. And this is why I feel like when people are having faith journeys or faith crisis is why this can be so hard when they feel like they're losing their community or their people or their social capital or their rites of passage. Why that can feel like such a threat, because when that contentment system is going stay out of whack. I think that's a very psychologically concept. But when it's out of whack, then all of a sudden it is our threat system kicked in more or that drive system which is trying to help us to gather resources. But that threat system where we might be feeling this fear, that anxiety or anger, we might jump up into fight, flight or freeze. So then the goal of compassion focus therapy is to achieve harmony between these three systems as an imbalance between them is often central to poor mental health. When these systems are in balance, then we're able to respond more appropriately to daily situations. So a lot of the things that that are talked about in techniques or exercises used in compassion focus therapy are compassionate motivation, sympathy, sensitivity, distress, tolerance.
[00:33:18] And so people may use appreciation, exercise activities that emphasize what you truly enjoy. And I feel like this is right up my alley of raising one's emotional baseline because appreciation exercises what you enjoy mindfulness fostering the ability to pay attention to the current moment in a non judgmental manner. I cannot say enough about when you are noticing that you are thinking, worrying, ruminating, then just being able to just notice it. Come right back to the present moment in a non judgmental matter. What can you pay attention to in the here and now? What can you smell? What can you touch? What can you see? What can you I mean it just being present, coming into that present moment because that's all that you have any type of control or contact with. And then compassion focused imagery exercises. They use guided memories and fantasies to stimulate the mind and the psychological systems. So the goal of compassion focused imagery exercises is a production of a relational image that stimulates the soothing system. This is fascinating relational image. So this is where you start thinking of compassion focused imagery or things that bring you peace or joy or that that give you an ability to tap into compassion toward yourself or others. And as you use that guided imagery that you're going to start to frame this form, this relational frame of where now, when I think of this person or I think of this compassion focused image, that they will start to be things that I think of together, which will help me shift my mindset a little bit more.
[00:34:40] So what are the benefits? I feel like Compassion Focus Therapy might be highly useful for people who feel stuck by feelings of shame. There we go. And self criticism. Now, is it something that I am very familiar with? Absolutely not. But I just wanted to be open and honest about that and say that as I started to dig into this, this concept of what do we do with shame? Why is shame there? Because I will say over and over again, when when I was promoting my book, he's a porn addict now. What an expert in a former addict. Answer your questions. Still available on Amazon also as a Kindle book. And I really do stand behind that book. I feel like the coauthor, Josh and I did a really nice job and just answering all kinds of questions from the addict to the betrayed. And but when I was promoting that book, I said that at that point, I think I dealt with 1500 individuals who had been trained to turn away from unhealthy coping mechanisms like pornography. And in doing so, I would say that shame was a component in zero of the people that I've worked with recovery. So we need to absolutely remove shame. And now understanding a little bit more about where shame comes from, that it was perhaps a protection, a childhood protection mechanism that then we can thank our brain for trying to protect us.
[00:35:49] But now it's time to start having a little more compassion, compassion for ourselves and compassion for. And if we can have compassion for ourselves and compassion for others, and that we are going to be able to show up in a differentiated, self actualized, interdependent, all the therapy words way. And then hopefully that will lead to not feeling like we are going to this place where we don't feel like we're enough because you are enough and you are absolutely lovable. So let's start from there and and and build from there, build that emotional baseline so you can be the very best version of you because you are literally the only version of you that has ever walked the face of the earth. And isn't that amazing and isn't that beautiful? So I want you to find who that person is and who they want to be moving forward. And it will change and it will evolve. And that's all part of what makes the whole journey of life more palatable, more more enjoyable, and and put you in a position to be the best version of you to. I mean, no pressure but change the world. Taking us out per usual is the wonderful the talent that Aurora Florence with her song. It's wonderful. And I hope that you have an amazing week and I'll see you next time on the virtual couch.
[00:36:54] Compressed air motions flying past our heads and out the other end. The pressures of the daily grind. It's wonderful. And that's the question, Rob. A ghost floating past the midnight hour. They push aside the things that matter most.
[00:37:14] The world. My time.
[00:37:54] Citing news of discount price a million opportunities. The chance is yours to take or lose. It's worth. Always on the back burner until the opportune time. You're always pushed to go farther or shut up.