How Buddhism And Psychotherapy Cured My Anxiety
Updated: Jan 15
Disclaimer: This blog post is proudly sponsored by NuCalm but all opinions are my own. NuCalm is the world’s only patented neuroscience technology clinically proven to resolve stress and improve sleep quality – without drugs. NuCalm is used by the U.S. Military & the FBI, 49 Professional Sports Teams and recommended by 98% of patients. If you aren’t familiar, NuCalm is only $29.99 a month, and they offer a 30-day risk-free guarantee. Our readers can also get 3 months free with coupon code Recharge25. As a NuCalm affiliate, we may receive compensation, if you purchase products or services through the links provided, at no extra cost to you. This helps support the running of the blog.
It's simply not enough to profess to everyone, or worse still, scream and shout it atop your little rooftop garden about the importance of therapy and taking care of our mental health. It's as obvious as going to the doctor when you're sick. The problem isn't knowing what to do, it's knowing where to start.
We tend to forget that psychology isn't a science like mathematics, where 2 + 2 is equal to 4. You just can't get that same linear, simplistic, empiricism, that surgical precision, with mental illness. Each mind is a world of its own; a cornucopia of chaos, light and dark with many a shade of grey melded in. And because of this, the world of psychotherapy is a world of customization. There is no one-size-fits-all in this world, what you'll find instead are a range of options, principles and theories that adjust to the needs of each person. You can go to a psychologist who is guided by the Jungian method, maybe that suits you, or perhaps you'll stumble upon (hopefully you won't be stumbling, but walking gracefully into your therapist's office... oh who're we kidding, you'll be sat on your couch with a tee and underwear on, laptop perched on the coffee table, and Zooming your session - wow, how the world's changed!) anyway back to what I was saying, you'll stumble... gracefully (a good compromise I'd say, hey, we're in a relationship now, the holy alliance of writer and reader, and since we're in this relationship, we need to compromise. Ok? Okkkk!!?? Good.) upon another therapist that prefers Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), and maybe, you hit the mark, CBT works for, but then again maybe you should keep looking.
Look, you don't have to settle for the first psychologist you go to, and that does not mean that there is a problem with you or that you're doing therapy wrong *scoffs* as if there ever was a right way to do it. Although they are highly qualified professionals, they are still people with beliefs and values which influence the way they practice. Synergy is important in therapy, you don't need to like your pill for it to work, you do your therapist.
That is why I like to learn about all the different strategies and techniques that exist, since the first time I went to therapy I was surprised that in her office there was no chaise longue to be found(those badass therapist couches that I thought ALL therapists had, god, I thought it was part of the job, no chaise? No way!) I cried a little that day; on the inside of obviously, I'm not ready for PDE (public displays of emotions) Even worse my therapist didn't have a pipe, nor did she ask me after every sentence I uttered, whilst still eying her little notebook “hmm, and how do you feel about it?” Today I am going to talk to you about a method used by my therapist that really helped me, who knows, it may be just what you need?
Compassion As Healing
Compassion Focused Therapy is a technique that is applied to patients suffering from high levels of self-criticism and shame that were caused by abusive situations in their early stages of life. The goal is that patients learn to see their problems from a compassionate eye and that through acceptance and self-forgiveness, they can work on their problems.
The forerunner of this technique is called Paul Gilbert, a British clinical psychologist who began to develop it in the early 2000s. While formulating this practice he took references from neuroscience, evolutionary psychology, and mindfulness principles from Buddhism. Wait, did you just say Buddhism? Yes, Gilbert did not want to limit himself to academic theories but rather wanted to create a more philosophical approach.
This approach has been incredibly successful and proposes something very simple: instead of focusing exclusively on the symptoms of diseases or disorders, the field of care goes a little further to address those other deeper aspects that also define the human being. Thus, areas such as the emotional world, feelings or any other type of personal or existential circumstances that surrounds the patient now take on an essential value with this type of therapy. Simply, be kind to yourself.
When Should You Opt For CFT?
The application of this technique is highly effective in treating emotional disorders such as anxiety, moods, depersonalization and eating disorders. This is achieved by addressing patterns of self-criticism and shame, which are present in the behaviour of patients who suffer from these disorders.
The theory holds that all people have three mechanisms to regulate emotions:
Self-protection mechanism: makes us feel rejection or anger to get away from things that can harm us
Motivation mechanism: what pushes us to look for stimuli in the world
Safety mechanism: makes us feel comfortable and calm without the need to look for ore stimuli
Each disorder is caused by the failure of one or more of these mechanisms, which leads us to become very sensitive and hard with ourselves, making us live in a constant state of self-punishment.
Apply CFT Principles In Your Life Today
The keyword in all this is compassion, not feeling sorry for ourselves, but rather to accept and embrace pain and suffering. Being present as proposed by Buddhism to recognize the problems we have and how they make us feel. In that principle, there are exercises that we can do to put this philosophy into practice, without ever needing to go to therapy, try them today, you'll feel a lot better for it!
This is a meditation exercise, you must visualize a place where you feel completely safe. You can imagine meadows, mountains, a clear sky, whatever makes you feel comfortable. This place is an opportunity to speak to ourselves without fear or masks, disconnected from distractions. Sit down in a quiet spot and do this exercise for at least 10 minutes a day.
The Compassionate Self
You constantly worry about being kind to others but have you worried about being kind to yourself? Open a dialogue with your Compassionate Self to accept hurts and defects. Become aware of the bad, the pain, the suffering to appreciate the good and your strengths.
Give these a try and let us know in the comments how you get on. I've been practising these principles for years, ever since my therapist advised me to use them as a coping mechanism for when my chronic anxiety really flares up. I would love to know if any of you have ever seen a therapist who practices CFT or some other form of therapy, and how that's affected your life, be it for better or for worse.
This blog post is proudly sponsored by NuCalm but all opinions are my own. NuCalm is the world’s only patented neuroscience technology clinically proven to resolve stress and improve sleep quality – without drugs. NuCalm is used by the U.S. Military & the FBI, 49 Professional Sports Teams and recommended by 98% of patients. If you aren’t familiar, NuCalm is only $29.99 a month, and they offer a 30-day risk-free guarantee. Our readers can also get 3 months free with coupon code Recharge25. As a NuCalm affiliate, we may receive compensation, if you purchase products or services through the links provided, at no extra cost to you. This helps support the running of the blog.