Importance of self-compassion in the workplace
Words / Geordie Bull
One of the toughest aspects of parenting in the modern age is the challenge of having to work full time to support your family. As a mother of two young children, I have found reading parenting books has often led me down a path of guilt and shame.
The medicine for these feelings is self-compassion — nurturing yourself, establishing healthy boundaries and acceptance. Every time I cultivate compassion for myself I am blessed with a fresh perspective on how to solve challenges. There is no question that stress and self-doubt can arise at work sometimes. Self-compassion is about observing and controlling fearful or negative thoughts like such.
Self-compassion opens up space for creative problem-solving. As you speak kindly to yourself, you will naturally relate to your children with kindness and compassion, which is often all that’s needed to calm a situation and reverse negative behaviour. Let go of the enemies of self-compassion.
Compassion has been sidelined by “being better than” or “getting it right” for so many. The problem is, you only get it right for a little while before another challenge crops up. Perfectionism leads to a feeling of constant failure. Try to notice the perfectionist in your psyche next time she pipes up during a challenge. As you notice feelings of not being good enough, generate your own affirmations to contradict them: for example, “I am doing my best and my best is good enough.”
Nobody is perfect.
Shame & excess guilt
A little bit of guilt is ok but too much just spirals your mood downward and prevents you from making any lasting changes. Guilt and shame also cause you to lose your boundaries with your boss, making it difficult to say no when you really should.
I have learnt this the hard way. I am finally coming out the other side and wondering how I survived the years of constantly meeting the demands of others while my true self was relegated to the sidelines. Since then I have been establishing healthy boundaries that demonstrate to my colleagues that I value my health, my interests and my personal space.
Setting healthy boundaries is self-compassion in action.
Competition & comparison
A by-product of conflicting opinions is competition.
If someone’s not doing it your way, they are failing, right? Wrong.
There are a million ways to work productively. One person’s decision may be wrong for you but right for them and their unique situation and vice versa. If you feel the need to appear superior to or more knowledgeable than others, chances are you are not feeling too much compassion for yourself. I know this from experience; if I need to make someone wrong, it’s because I’m feeling insecure about my own choices. Applying affirmations that promote self-compassion and patience is the antidote to competition.
Excess busyness often makes healthy habits and rituals fall by the wayside, leading to stress and anxiety and amplifying that nasty voice that tells you you’re doing a bad job. Simplifying life encourages self-compassion and kindness by giving you the space you need to unwind from your occupational environment. In what ways can you simplify your life?
A good way to start is by thinking about what you love and what nurtures you and how to do more of it when you have free time or are feeling overwhelmed.
5 ways to cultivate self-compassion
Self-compassion is a choice you make over and over again. When you begin to focus on compassion, you will begin to notice so many examples of it around you and admire it when you observe it in its many forms. As you admire it, and see it, you draw it to you and become a compassionate person. I now treat compassion as I once treated perfection— as something to constantly move towards, and it feels so right.
- Mediation. A meditation practice is the most effective tool for increasing mindfulness and self-compassion. Even 10 minutes a day can be life-changing.
- Keep a gratitude diary. Taking the time to be grateful for the small things in your life naturally promotes a positive head space where self-compassion can flourish. Once you begin, you will notice how abundant your life is and how much you have to be grateful for. And, more importantly, how much you deserve it all.
- Affirm what you want more of. Create some affirmations to say religiously before you leave the house. An example could be, “I love and appreciate myself” or “I intend to have a wonderful day.” This sets up the law of attraction to bring you what you want and also creates a platform for conscious decision-making throughout the rest of your day.
- Celebrate others’ strengths.When hearing that one of your good friend’s has just received a promotion – celebrate it. Make a list of all the things you admire about your colleagues and commit to telling them. Notice the feelings that arise around acknowledging the strengths of others: jealousy, anger, sadness? Affirm that these feelings are ok. Feel the pain of jealousy and apply the medicine of self-compassion. This way, you will be able to genuinely celebrate the successes of your colleagues and still feel good inside.
- Trust in the process. Accept that your life is a work in progress and you will never, ever be finished learning and growing. Love yourself for how far you have come, celebrate your successes and keep moving forward with compassion and commitment to growth.