I’ve had a lot of conversations this week with friends and colleagues about how exhausted and lacking in motivation they are as a result of the twists & turns forced by the pandemic and recent events. Distracted from work, guilty about not feeling “present” in their home life, and really struggling to start fresh and focused for the year.
I’ve also started to hear the phrase “have self-compassion” used a lot. With good reason. It could be the antidote we need to the tough start to 2021.
Self-compassion is more important now than ever.
With all the perceived threats and setbacks around us, we are naturally driven to prioritise survival. This means we are more self-critical, we try to cover every base and keep all the plates spinning, and we want things done perfectly (if it’s not perfect, why to bother?!)
Science suggests self-compassion is a powerful performance enhancer, especially when we are under pressure. Rather than encouraging people to give up or step back, it actually triggers a “growth mindset” and brings us closer to our “true and best self” (core drivers and strengths).
What is self-compassion and how do we actually do it?
Self-compassion is not just about giving yourself a break (which, by the way, you deserve). And it’s definitely not just an excuse to “let yourself off the hook” (when I mention self-compassion I often get the same eye-roll as when I suggest self-care!).
It’s about giving yourself permission to pause, to take some space, reflect and then, trigger the “growth mindset”.
Self-compassion is often associated with and is part of, mindfulness practices. Fundamentally it is about tuning in to your thoughts, however uncomfortable, and acknowledging the challenges without berating yourself or allowing them to dominate.
6 steps to showing self-compassion
1) Are speaking to yourself the way you would a best friend or are you being unkind or harsh?
2) What have you learned from times when you didn’t do something perfectly or were disappointed?
3) Recognise that failure or setbacks are part of being human. They happen to everyone.
4) Learn to engage with the negatives, without letting them overwhelm any positives.
5) Understand that this is a temporary set back.
6) Be curious about what happened rather than critical.
(Be patient and practice consistently, even with small things.)
Sceptical? This HBR article outlines the important benefits of self-compassion and its role in leadership. It is a great reminder of how and why to show yourself some kindness.
Challenge for this week – can you show yourself self-compassion at least once per day?
Embrace Stress course
Over the years, as an ambitious employee, team focused manager and supportive friend, I developed a deep understanding of the challenges and pressures that we all face not only day to day but also in our long-term health, happiness and career development.