In the fast-paced world that we live in today, we‘re often too tough on ourselves. In our heads, we replay scenarios of things we could have done better. We let feelings of negativity, guilt, and regret overcome our self-image. Instead of beating ourselves for our mistakes, what if we were nicer to ourselves? What if we could turn the harsh self-criticism into mindful self-compassion? To combat the self-deprecating thoughts, it’s important to try to allow for a level of self-compassion, the ability to extend compassion towards oneself during times of inadequacy, mental suffering, or failure.
What is Self-Compassion?
Self-compassion is defined as having the elements of self kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness. While we are taught to have compassion for others, we forget that having compassion for ourselves is just as important. Be more accepting of yourselves for who you are regardless of your situation, faults, and failures. This will ultimately help you become a better leader, team member, partner, and friend.
Self-compassion begins with self kindness, being able to accept yourself for who you are instead of constantly hurting yourself with words of criticism in the face of shortcomings. This is important because you need to love yourself for you and embrace the whole package! Not every single aspect of your personality will be perfect, but it’s up to you to be kind to yourself, even if you feel like you’ve done something embarrassing, wrong, or weird. Do not let these things deter you from reaching your full potential. Laugh it off, make a mental note, figure out a way to avoid it next time, and move on.
Common humanity is the idea that personal failures and suffering are all part of a shared human experience. We are not alone in any of our negative experiences. Chances are many others are also going through something similar. And being able to recognize that helps us find strength in the numbers and allows us to feel connected. To the world and to each other.
Mindfulness is being able to understand your negative thoughts, process them, and ultimately letting them go. Ruminating on your failures and personal shortcomings ends up being unproductive. It will only result in more feelings of anxiety and mental torment – so just let it f*cking go! Being able to recognize when you’re being too hard on yourself allows for a more balanced approach to dealing with your feelings and anxieties. Not only that, but it also creates room for more productive thoughts, creativity, and abundance.
Practicing self-compassion will allow us to experience better psychological health. Research has found that it leads to greater happiness, optimism, curiosity, and social connectedness. Not only does it assist us in our personal life, but it can also translate into the workplace by helping us become better leaders and team members.
Some leaders and executives are under the common misconception that self-compassion might result in complacency. They believe negative self-talk and being harsh on themselves is the only way to prevent future mistakes and deliver results. But they could not be farther from the truth. Self-criticism actually prevents us from reaching our goals by undermining our skills and abilities. Negative self-talk can alter how much we are effectively able to achieve, and even how we treat those around us.
Additionally, if more leaders and employees practice self-compassion at work, more employees will be open to asking for help. It’s easy to get caught up in the idea that you are not smart or adequate in your job if you automatically don’t know or understand something. This could potentially hinder individuals from reaching out during times of need, and end up making work suffer. Accepting ourselves for who we are and what we know will allow for us to be more open and confident in reaching out to fellow co-workers to fill the gap when needed. Because guess what? Asking for help is okay!
Practicing self-compassion is not easy, and definitely takes some practice. But remember that having compassion for yourself is no different than having compassion for others!