Self-Compassion and The Snowball Effect

The Snowball Effect Amazon“Self-Compassion enables us to better love others. Without self-compassion we go around projecting all of our own self-contempt, harsh judgments, and criticisms onto everyone else. If we love ourselves, we spread love. If we are full of self-contempt, we spread criticism, negativity, and judgments. ”  Kristin Barton Cuthriell

In Kristin Barton Cuthriell’s new book, The Snowball Effect: How to Build Positive Momentum in Your Life, Kristin helps us let go of harsh self-judgments and shows us how self-compassion can combat depression, decrease anxiety, improve our overall well-being, and enable us to better love others. Below you will find an excerpt from her new book.

Sam recalls many days during his childhood when his dad would come home from work tired and frustrated after a difficult day and lash out at him and his older brother, often calling them stupid or worthless, and telling them that they would never amount to anything. Sam heard these messages from his father over and over again for years, and by the time Sam was grown, he had internalized all of these messages, believing them to be true. The messages had become a tape recorder in Sam’s head. Although it had been years since Sam had received these messages from his father, he continued to tell himself the very same things.

Sam also called himself a failure daily, another message he had learned early in life. The more he called himself a failure, the less he tried, and the less he tried, the more he felt like a failure. You see, Sam wasn’t a failure at all, but his negative self-talk had blocked opportunities to succeed. Anyone who stops trying will stop succeeding. Sam was an intelligent, kind, and attractive young man, capable of doing anything that he set his mind to do. The problem was that he had internalized his father’s earlier messages. He believed and told himself the things that his father had once told him, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Self-CompassionSam came to see me for therapy when he was twenty-five years old because he felt hopeless, helpless, and depressed. At the time Sam first came to counseling, he did not know why he was depressed, and he was not aware of the horrible things he often told himself. After so many years of putting himself down, he was not even aware that he was doing it. After several sessions, Sam became aware of the way he had been treating himself. He also realized that he had picked up where his father had left off.

One of the first steps in helping Sam was to teach him how to change his negative self-talk. You see, the more Sam told himself that he was stupid and worthless, the more depressed and hopeless he became, and the more depressed he became, the less he accomplished. And the less he accomplished, the more worthless and depressed he felt. This vicious cycle needed to stop! The false messages had everything to do with Sam’s dad’s feelings of inferiority and powerlessness and nothing to do with Sam. But because Sam now told himself his father’s original messages, he began to act as if he were worthless, which only intensified his feelings of inadequacy.

In therapy, Sam learned to identify his negative self-talk. He was also able to challenge the validity of the messages. He came to understand that his father had grown up in a very similar environment, with a father who was often harsh and critical. This treatment left Sam’s father feeling powerless and insecure. Sam’s father then belittled his own son as a result of his own insecurities. Sam learned that he needed to change the way he thought about himself not only for himself, but also for generations to come. He could now put an end to the self-destructive legacy, so that he would not end up harming his child in the same way that he, his father, and probably his grandfather had been harmed.

As Sam worked on challenging and changing the destructive messages that played like a recording through his head, he began to feel more hopeful and less depressed. The more Sam told himself that he was an intelligent, capable human being, the more effort Sam put forth to succeed, and the more he succeeded, the better he felt. It was a snowball effect. Eventually Sam was able to rid himself of the toxic recording that had been playing in his head for years, and replace it with loving self-affirmations that he came to believe. Sam learned just how powerful his thoughts really are. He realized that his thoughts have the power to lead him toward a path of success or a path of destruction. Sam learned to always be mindful of the thoughts that he allowed to occupy space in his head. And with these realizations, Sam felt more empowered than he had ever felt before.

The Snowball Effect: How to Build Positive Momentum in Your Life is now available on  Amazon in soft cover and kindle edition and at Barnes & Noble online.

To visit Kristin’s website go to

This post was written and shared by Kristin Barton Cuthriell, MEd, MSW, LCSW

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3 responses to this post.

  1. Thank you Kristin for this insight and congratulations on the new book. I wish you great success and hopefully your support and giving in a healing way reaches the masses.

    Self talk has been the subject of many posts and the importance goes to the core of who we are, who we believe we are that is.

    Thank you again and hopefully we can see more get posts fom time to time.
    I just purchased the book, only $3.99 on kindle, a bargain.

  2. Posted by Chico on January 16, 2014 at 8:37 pm

    Reblogged this on A Way in the Woods.

  3. […] Self-Compassion and The Snowball Effect […]

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