chapter  25
4 Pages

Compassion ¯owing into oneself: Using memory

Research on attention allocation has long shown that we are more attentive to threats than to positives (Baumeister et al., 2001). People are faster at ®nding aggressive faces in a matrix of happy or neutral faces than they are at ®nding a happy face in a matrix of neutral or negative faces (OÈ hman, Lundqvist, & Esteves, 2001). Beck has often pointed out that if we (say) go to ten shops and nine of the assistants are helpful but then one is rude and abusive the likelihood is that when we get home we will ruminate on the rude one and forget about the helpful ones. This is because our brain is set to be ``threat sensitive more than reward sensitive'' (Baumeister et al., 2001; Gilbert, 1998) and it becomes even more so when we're in stressed or threat brainstates. So, we need to work against this tendency, train in refocusing on the helpfulness of others, learning how to pay attention and ``dwell'' on the kindness of othersÐno matter how small. When I mentioned this to one of my borderline folk her response was, ``F*** that; they're all bastards out there!'' Nevertheless, doing simple out-of-session work of noticing kindnesses, no matter how small (e.g., the smile of a shop assistant) can be useful training; paying more attention to the content of our (threat or anger) ruminations and choosing to switch to kindness focusing (see Figure 4, page 65).