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Your Anxiety Toolkit - It's a Beautiful Day to Do Hard Things

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Your Anxiety Toolkit - It's a Beautiful Day to Do Hard Things
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Oct 8, 2021

This is Your Anxiety Toolkit - Episode 205.

Welcome back, everybody. We are on week 2 of this Self-Compassion Challenge. For those of you who are new to the podcast, or didn’t hear last week’s episode, go back and listen to that. We are on week 2 of a 30-days Self-Compassion Challenge. My whole goal is that you learn how to treat yourself kindly and compassionately as you move through difficult times.

We are doing this to celebrate the launch of my very first book (The Self-Compassion Workbook for OCD), which I am so proud of and so excited about. Thank you to everybody who has purchased the book, supported me on social media, shouted me out to their friends and fellow followers. I cannot tell you how grateful I am. If you have got the book and you’re enjoying the book, please do go and leave a review over on Amazon, share your honest opinion or share your thoughts on social media or with anybody you can, because the more people I can help, the happier. I am.

We are moving on today in this episode onto the second most important part of self-compassion in my mind. Now, this is taken directly from the book, even though the workbook is called The Self-Compassion Workbook For OCD. This is a concept I talk to all my clients about. It’s something I constantly check in with myself about, and it has been probably one of the most important parts of my recovery in mental health in many, many ways. So I am so excited to share this with you.

Before we do that, I do want to go over and share the review of the week. For those of you who are new to the podcast or are old to the podcast, I love your reviews on iTunes. It helps me reach more people. So this week is from Looney Lovey. It says:

“A gift of a podcast. I am so incredibly thankful I found this podcast. I have experienced OCD since I was 10, and this has been one of the most amazing tools. I seriously thank God for leading me to this podcast every day. It is like having a therapist in your pocket. Kimberley is so sweet, and her openness and kindness make the listener feel so welcome.”

Thank you, Loony Lovey.

The next thing I wanted to share is the “I did a hard thing.” Now, let’s take a step back here and really look at self-compassion as really being a hard thing. And so, a lot of you have actually written in and said, self-compassion was one of the hard things that they’ve been practicing. However, this week we have a hard thing from anonymous and they’ve said:

“I have a fear of disease. I recently had two close friends get a diagnosis where this would make me feel fear for myself and my family. I chose to show up for my friends and continue on a daily basis, working on my mental boundaries, not making their illness about me, and my fear is about that stopping me from supporting them. I struggle with feeling everyday body sensations in myself and wonder if I am next. But this is so amazing, this whole ‘I did a hard thing.’”

Anonymous, amazing work. It sounds like you’re really showing up and letting your values make your decisions, not your fear. This is so cool. This is just so cool that you’ve done that. Look at you go. Doesn’t that just show that fear doesn’t win, right? That love and connection and values win every single time. I just love this one so much. Thank you so much for sharing.

I have a ton of submissions, but I will share again very soon where you could put those submissions in if you’re wanting to put your name in. Okay?

Ep. 205 Is your Self-Compassion Practice Conditional or Unconditional Your Anxiety Toolkit Podcast

All right. Let’s get over to the meat and cheese of the whole episode today.

So we’re talking about a concept. Now, this is not scientifically proven, I have to disclose. This is my conceptualization of one of the main things that get in the way of self-compassion. I’m going to tell you a quick story.

When my son was in kindergarten, the teacher had this system called the clip chart. I want you to imagine the clip chart is just a piece of cardboard, and in the middle of the piece of cardboard, it’s like a long narrow rectangle. In the middle is a peg. And the peg is put right in the middle and there is just a normal neutral face.

Above the peg are these different ladder rungs. There’s a smiley face, there’s “You did well,” then there’s a bigger smiley face. And then at the very top, there’s this huge smiley face saying, “You get a treat.”

Now under the peg is a sad face. And then under the peg is an even sadder face. And then under that sadder face is a really, really sad, but almost mad face. And next to it, it says, “Call your parents.”

This is a ladder system that if a kid isn’t listening, they get clipped down. If a kid is doing really well, they get clipped up. At the top, if they get clipped up enough times, they get a special treat, some toy from the toy box. If they get clipped down enough times, the teacher calls the parents.

This is what we would call a behavioral modification tool to help encourage kids and motivate children, usually five-year-olds, on how to act and how to behave. It’s incredibly efficient. As long as it’s not done in a shaming way, it can be a really motivating way of keeping kids feeling like they’re being motivated in courage. They’ve got something to look forward to. They’re working towards something.

The problem with this is, even if you haven’t got a clip chart and you weren’t given one in kindergarten, our society runs by a metaphorical clip chart. If you act well and you put a smile on your face and you get good grades, you get clipped up. If your body looks a certain way, you get clipped up. If you make a certain amount of money, metaphorically, our society will clip you up as if you’re doing well.

Now, likewise, if you’re struggling, often we clipped down. We do this to ourselves. Not only society, but we also clip ourselves down. “Oh, I didn’t do well in that test. I’m going to clip myself down.” Sad face. “Oh, I’m struggling with my panic today, or my anxiety today. I’m going to clip myself down. I did compulsions today. I’m going to clip myself down.” We use this metaphorical motivation system all the time.

Now within society, we also have this inbuilt view on mental illness. This is also about racism, and there’s so many different levels of the way your body looks, social media followers. Again, like I said, how much money you make. There’s socially so many expectations put on us, that we also buy into that.

Sometimes, because we rely on this metaphorical clip up and clip down system, we use only this system to motivate ourselves, which ultimately means we’re constantly on this checklist of how much we can get done so that we can feel good about ourselves. We’re constantly clipping ourselves up and down as if worth depends on it. And that’s the piece I want you to remember.

We do this, and we make this calculation, that if I’m clipping up, I’m worth more. If I’m doing my homework well, I’m worth more. If I don’t have a mental illness anymore, I’m worth more. This is not true. This is all lies.

This is one of the main points I make in the book, which is, when we’re stuck in a clip chart way of seeing ourselves, our identity, our worth, our value, we’re constantly anxious. We’re constantly afraid of dropping the ball.

One of the most compassionate things we can do is to drop the clip chart system completely, to recognize. This is what I say to my patients all the time. You’re always at the top of the clip chart. Nothing you can do is going to drop your worth down – no mental illness, no body shape, size, color, hair color, short height, tall. None of that changes your worth. None of it. I’m specifically here talking about your mental struggles. You do not get clipped down worth-wise because of all of the struggles you have mentally.

I have had so many patients and clients tell me they don’t deserve self-compassion because they’re struggling so much with this mental illness, because it’s putting their family out. It’s impacting their loved one’s lives because it causes them to do compulsions all night long. And therefore, they deserve to be clipped down. I don’t agree with that respectfully.

Everybody is at the top. You’re having a bad day? You’re still at the top of the clip chart. You’re having a good day? You’re still at the top of the clip chart. Every single day, you deserve a treat, a fun, joyful experience. A pleasure, a reward. You got through the day. Celebrate. You don’t get clipped down. We have to throw out the clip chart system.

Now, does this mean you have to give up trying? Absolutely not. Does that mean that you don’t study for your test and you don’t show up to work and you don’t try to make life better for you? Absolutely not.

You do the things that you value. You do the things that fill up your heart. If you value getting a good grade in school, put in as much effort as you can because you value it, not because you’re on this conditional worth system where you’re just trying to prove that you’re worthy and good.

Don’t do treatment. I talk with my patients, why are you doing ERP? Are you doing it because you want your life back from OCD? Or are you doing it because you feel embarrassed or ashamed for having to do compulsions?

Neither is wrong, but the compassionate thing to do here is to move from a place of values, what matters to you, what makes you feel like it gives you purpose in this life, what keeps you connected to your loved ones – instead of clipping yourself up and down on this worth ladder, because that’s temporary and it’s conditional. We want our self-compassion practice to be unconditional. That’s why we throw out the clip chart. It’s unconditional.

You’re having a hard day? You get self-compassion. You’re having a good day? You get self-compassion. You’re having a day where everything went wrong? You get to have self-compassion. We don’t clip you down because of that. And that is the real important piece I want you to take away.

I want you to think about, if you had a clip chart, what are some of the things you’ve been telling yourself? I want you to write this in your journal, really reflect on this. What are some of the things that you clip yourself down for? What are some of the things you clip yourself up for?

Do you get engaged in this sort of mental worth calculation? “Oh, I’m worthy today because I A, B, and C?” Because that’s not true. You’re worthy whether you did that or not.

Do you beat yourself up because of things you’ve done? That’s you clipping yourself down. You’ve said, “I’ve done something wrong. Therefore, I need to be punished.”

The whole work we’re doing this month is to move towards like we talked about last week, asking yourself, what do I need in this moment of suffering? The clip chart is usually one of the main reasons people don’t give themselves what they need, because they say, “Oh, I did A, B, and C today. Therefore, I don’t deserve it. I clipped myself down.” I have to keep saying to my patients and clients, “No, no, no. You’re at the top. You’re at the top every single day. You deserve kindness and care and compassion and treats and pleasure and joy. But most of all, compassion.”

So that’s the concept of the clip chart. I want you to draw it out. Put the system. What do you have to do in order to be at the top in this metaphorical clip chart? What do you have to do when at the bottom? What bad things do you consider yourself clipped down to the bottom? And really reflect on, is this really kind? Is this a compassionate way for me to treat myself?

If it were up to me, my advice is, put yourself at the top. You get compassion every single day unconditionally. Throw out the clip chart. It works for five-year-olds in a classroom, but it doesn’t work for you in a lifetime. It doesn’t work for you in your life. You deserve more than that. You deserve kindness every day.

So let’s take a minute. Let’s slow it down and just check in, and just sit with this idea that no matter what, no matter what happens today, no matter how you acted or behaved or performed, no matter what grade you got on the test, no matter how you showed up, let’s just reflect and honor that unconditionally, you deserve self-compassion.

If you hear a voice saying, “Yeah, but blah-blah-blah,” whatever the blah-blah-blah is, is where your work is. If it says, “Yeah, but my thoughts are horrendous, therefore I’m disqualified from this,” there is your work. You’re doing too much judgment around your thoughts. If you go, “Yeah, but I did this one bad thing, it’s unforgivable,” I go, “Okay, send your compassion around that. Go hard on that. Because that’s the thing that’s getting in the way of you really tending to your pain and suffering the way that you deserve.”

You might say, “Yeah, but I’ve got too much anxiety. I’m too sick. I’m just too unwell. I’m too messed up. I’m too hopeless. I’m a failure.” We’ll do some work around that. Reflect on that, because that’s the roadblock, which we will be talking about in other episodes to come.

Alright. I love you guys so much. Really take a minute and receive the love I’m sending you right now, the compassion I’m sending you. I hope you’re taking care of yourself. I hope you’re facing your fears. I hope you’re tending to your suffering as best as you can.

It is a beautiful day to do hard things. You knew I was going to say it. So I want you to lean in here. Double down on this practice. You deserve this.

Have a wonderful week, everybody. I love you. Talk to you next week.

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