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Looking at Antecedents to Increase Compassion for Ourselves

By: Deborah Gray Walsh, LPC, Team Leader at The Renfrew Center of Charlotte

Posted on August 19, 2019


Do you ever have one of those situations where it seems like you're responding with much more intensity than the situation may warrant? It can sometimes be difficult to identify where our emotions are coming from, and if we judge ourselves for them, we typically end up acting in unhelpful ways. In these situations, it can be helpful to slow down and focus on antecedents to current emotional responses. When we better understand why we have the automatic reactions that we often do, we can more easily use our current emotions as information about our needs, instead of getting caught in judgment about them.

Here's what I've found to be helpful:

Do a quick 3 point check (what am I thinking, feeling in my body, and doing/having the urge to do?) to gain as much awareness about the present as possible.

Ask yourself: what has happened in the past day/month/year that might be impacting how I'm responding to this situation?

See if you can determine what your current emotion is telling you, remembering that all emotions are helpful, even if they're not always the most comfortable.

Once you have more awareness about how you currently feel and how the past may be impacting it, use this to decide how you want to respond in this situation in order to get your true needs met.

Lastly, remember that developing compassion for ourselves takes time and a willingness to pause and see how our past experiences may be impacting our current responses to the world.


Deborah Gray Walsh, LPC is the Team Leader at The Renfrew Center of Charlotte. She received her Bachelor's degree in English literature and Writing from Calvin College in Michigan and her Master's degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at The University of North Carolina at Charlotte. At The Renfrew Center of Charlotte, Deb supervises clinical staff and interns and has extensive experience in providing individual, family, and group therapy. She specializes in integrating trauma work and Christian-based therapy into the treatment of eating disorders. In her free time, Deb enjoys cooking, traveling, and spending time with friends and family.
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