I've been teaching a lot about compassion lately. I came across this brief review of the latest research, so I thought I would post it. Compassion skills are central when I teach the Opposite Action skill from DBT for emotions related to anger (irritation, frustration, annoyance). Most of the time, opposite action is just that, an action. But, particularly with feelings of anger, there is also an attitudinal or thinking action. Opposite action basically says this: because emotions are so hardwired to motivate certain behaviors- if you do the action opposite to the one natural to a strong emotion, it can help turn the emotion around. (See the article on Half Smile for more about this). With anger, the auto pilot impulse is to attack, either physically or verbally. So, level one opposite action would be to "gently avoid." Note: this does not mean avoid entirely and forever, and never deal with the situation. Gently avoid is something like the old fashioned counting to 10. We do it just long enough to get our emotion managed. I teach my clients to next, while gently avoiding, to practice compassion, first for our self (by validating the strong feelings), next for the other person. Actively practicing Compassion is the opposite (thinking) action to judging. Because, if you think about it for a second, whenever we feel anger (irritation, annoyance, etc), we are judging something (or someone). Bringing an attitude of kind consideration of how difficult an experience or situation is for another person can work miracles on your angry feelings. Just try it for yourself (always a good idea to try a new skill with an easier task first). Next time you are in traffic, or annoyed by how slowly someone is moving in the check out line, or some other similar daily annoyance, try considering what difficulties might be contributing to the situation, then send that person some compassion….. for your own well being.

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