chapter  13
4 Pages

Distinguishing compassionate self-correction from shame-based self-attacking

When working with self-shame and self-criticism (and shame vs. guilt) it is useful to distinguish two different emotion systems underpinning self-correction. For example, if you ask people to completely give up self-criticism they often worry that they will become arrogant or lazy or uncontrolled. This is true, even of therapists in a workshop! However, as noted above, if I ask you to imagine the part of you that is critical, to see it looking back at you as it were, and what emotions it is directing at you, the chances are these emotions will be ones of frustration, anger, contempt or disappointment. These are all emotions of the threat system. Therefore, our self-criticism of this type stimulates the threat system. It is not focused on our well-being.