Archives for Self-Compassion
Reinforcement is a term used in operant conditioning to refer to anything that increases the likelihood that a response will occur. If every time you stay home on Sunday night your child performs better on the tests on Monday, and you are more likely to stay home because of that, then your child performing well on Monday tests reinforces your staying home the night before. When other people reinforce you for being with them, you want to socialize more. There are many reinforcers for behavior. Among the naturally occurring reinforcers, social reinforcement is one of the most commonly occurring. Social reinforcers come from other people and include smiles, hugs, praise and attention. Social reinforcers are powerful. Acceptance and approval of others means you are part of the group/family and communicate that you are a lovable person.
Strengthening relationships and feeling less lonely is a challenge for emotionally sensitive people and can be overwhelming. Tiny Buddha's 365 Tiny Love Challenges offers a step-by step model that is easily understood and gives the reader a way to move forward. I am grateful to Lori Deschene, the author, for answering a few questions about her work. How did you get the idea for Tiny Buddha’s 365 Tiny Love Challenges? I knew I wanted to write a book about strengthening our relationships, both because authentic connection is such a huge part of Tiny Buddha, and because I’ve personally experienced the consequences of shutting people out. For years when I was younger I isolated myself in shame, afraid that people would reject me if they knew about my struggles and shortcomings.
Are you cringing with dread about the deliveries of red roses that will come to the office to what seems like everyone but you? Are you hoping to sleep Valentine's Day away and avoid all the celebrations of romance that will be everywhere you turn? With hearts everywhere you turn, avoiding reminders is impossible.
In 1965 Martin Seligman "discovered" learned helplessness. He found that when animals are subjected to difficult situations they cannot control, they stop trying to escape. They become passive. Human beings are the same. If you have experienced devastating defeats, a persistent situation that you couldn't change, or experienced terror and been out of control of escape from that terror, then you may have lost hope for your ability to change your life or to change painful situations.
We often act consistent with how we feel. If you wake up in the morning and you don't feel like talking with people, maybe you don't answer the phone. If you don't feel like going to the grocery store, then you don't go. If you don't feel like networking then you cancel the luncheon. If you don't feel like being kind, you may talk gruffly to your friends and co-workers. Perhaps you even justify your actions, or attempt to, by saying, "I'm just in a bad mood."
How do you see yourself and your world? The way you view both affects the way you live your life. You may be quite secure about who you are and your safety in the world. Or not. Let's call the basic way you look at yourself and the world on an everyday basis your self-scape. It's like your emotional landscape. Do you wake up in the morning and see a full, lush emotional world? Do you focus on the people who support you? Or do you tend to see a barren world? Or perhaps even a landscape full of aggression and hostility, with people ready to destroy you when actually you are safe, it just doesn't feel that way? If you are in a situation that is physically dangerous, your situation is different. Your self-scape of fear is based on reality. A distorted self-scape is when someone feels undue fear of daily life events that most people experience.
There seems to be a strong stigma about loneliness. Many people will admit to being depressed before they'll talk about being lonely. Fearing being judged as unlikeable, a loser, or weird, they don't discuss their sense of aloneness, alienation, or exclusion. That horrible experience of being the last one chosen for teams in school seems to continue into adulthood, though the reasons are different. If you don't have friends, then there must be something wrong with you. Headlines that describe the Unabomber, John Hinckley, the mass murderer at Virginia Tech and other criminals as loners add to the fear of being judged if you are alone. I'm no talking about solitude. Loneliness is a different experience than solitude. Solitude is being alone by choice and wanting that aloneness or being comfortable with it. Loneliness means there is a discomfort-- you want to be more connected to others.
Researchers in positive psychology tell us that we are more content when we savor the positive that happens in our lives. But focusing on the positive isn't natural for many people. We tend to see and think about what we dislike, fear and what has hurt us more than we recognize and replay what we cherish. So maybe the end of the year is a great time to remember what you are grateful for...
Soon large crowds will gather in hotel rooms and toast the New Year. Others will party in Times Square and still others will ring in 2013 with a small group of friends. New Year's Eve is generally viewed as a time for celebrating with friends and can be a particularly lonely time for those who struggle with relationships. Your survey responses show that for some people loneliness (which is different from being alone) can be static and chronic, a heaviness that doesn't lift. For others, loneliness varies in intensity and is triggered by certain situations, such as holidays, can make the aloneness worse. When others are making plans with friends or family and you are not, you may feel left out. Television shows emphasizing activities for families and friends can remind you of what you wish for and don't have.