Self-Compassion for Work / Life Success
by Debbie Lyn Toomey, RN, CIPP
Have you ever quit on a project because of a mistake?
Did that mistake make you doubt your own ability to complete a task?
Did your inner critic feast on your blunder and allow your old thought patterns and belief systems to hijack you?
Instead of persevering, did you throw in the towel and give up?
You are not alone.
I’ve been there and done that! Situations like these have knocked me down for months, leaving me feeling insecure and incompetent. I felt ashamed, embarrassed, and thought I was the only one who could make such a blunder. They shook my self-confidence and faith. Fortunately, I learned about the practice of self-compassion. Self-compassion lifted me up and helped me shake off the lingering “I’m a loser and leave me alone” mentality.
From what I discovered this feeling is not uncommon. Many of us have experienced this and while some stopped their projects all together, others gave themselves permission to be human and press forward. The latter group used self-compassion which helped them continue through until completion.
What is self-compassion?
I define this powerful practice of self-compassion as a commitment to accepting, befriending, and loving yourself, despite what you think about yourself. Simply put, it is compassion that you would give to someone you care about, turned inwardly towards yourself. It’s accepting all aspect of who you are no matter how imperfect you see yourself.
Kristen Neff’s research on self-compassion has found that this practice leads to a happy life and helps us cope and become resilient.
Recently Tufts Medical Center’s interim CEO invited me to speak at the Tufts Medical Center 1st Nursing Grand Rounds. I spoke about self-compassion and how it can help with self-happiness, resilience, and wellbeing. During one part of my speech, I explained that self-compassion can help us become more resilient when doing a task because it can be a source of inner strength that fuels us instead of one that frustrates and stops us. The grit and willingness to forge forward comes from knowing that trial and error is part of the creative process. Further, it is within these instances that we gain the sense of mastery over the process.
On the other hand, when a project is tackled with perfection in mind, any mistakes or delays can quickly be conceived as incompetence, ignorance, and a waste of valuable time. In this instance, the pressure to perform flawlessly adds to the stress which increases the chances of a flood of unwanted negative emotions that can increase the chance of more mistakes to happen.
To gain more success instead of more stress, next time you begin a project, try the practice of self-compassion. Not only will you complete the task, you will also enjoy the process along the way. The practice of self-compassion has helped me tremendously by stopping the self-punitive dialogue that gets triggered when I fail or make mistakes.
One quick self-compassion technique that can help you is to notice how you soothe or comfort yourself when you are stressed. Do you like warmth, a soothing touch, or comforting voice? The more you recognize what you do for yourself during these situations the more you can do for yourself in the future. Because we are human beings, we respond to the mammalian care-giving process of warmth, touch, or soothing voice. Next time you are stressed and need extra tender-loving-care (TLC), try any one of these three interventions to give yourself the self-compassion that you need to be a success at work or in life.
For coaching support and to learn more about self-compassion and how you can use it to gain more success in both your work and life, contact me at [email protected] today.