Stop Beating Yourself Up: Self-Compassion
What Self-Compassion Is
There is power in understanding and having kindness towards yourself for who you are
You’re putting together a birthday party and asked a friend to pick up chocolate cake. She comes in the door, excited for the party. “Did you get the cake,” you ask. “Yea, vanilla; just like you wanted.” You gently remind her that it was supposed to be chocolate. She’s embarrassed about the mistake and keeps apologizing. “Stop,” you say. “It’s just cake! It’s absolutely fine.” She smiles, apologizes one more time and moves on to get drinks ready. You know it’s not a big deal; vanilla cake is almost as good as chocolate, and hey — there’s cake!
Now imagine this same scenario flipped. You brought the wrong kind of cake. Would you let yourself off the hook so easily?
We all know that compassion is an important part of being a good and empathetic person. But we often forget about extending that compassion to ourselves, particularly when we feel that we’re inadequate, or have failed. But self-compassion is loving and accepting yourself just as you are, imperfections and all. It’s being kind to yourself even when you feel that you’ve failed.
For a great read on this, check out Dr. Brené Brown’s book about living wholeheartedly; The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are.
Why You Need It
Self-compassion is one of the biggest factors in success and happiness
Self-compassion has repeatedly been shown to increase happiness, increase success, and lead to a greater sense of well-being. At first it might sound like this doesn’t have much room in the workplace, but self-compassion is so important to your overall well-being that it needs to be recognized. In fact, studies have shown that people who have a lot of self-compassion work harder than their less compassionate peers. Self-compassion doesn’t make us lazy or lower the bar; instead it allows us to acknowledge that it’s ok to have limitations. Dr. Kristin Neff explains just how important and effective it is in her book, Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself.
Self-Compassion Gone Wrong
Beating yourself up is a sure way to become unmotivated
When I first started blogging, I just jumped in, feet first and knowing next to nothing. I had read some articles on setting up blogs, and set one up on Wordpress. Now, I can work my smartphone and Google is a close friend, but I am definitely not a tech genius. So trying to work this blog was pretty difficult. I could get the post post written, but then came the moment of truth. My formatting wasn’t great, I didn’t know how to use headings properly, and I remember one of the first times I tried to add a picture I couldn’t figure out how to get the damn thing to just move to the right. I spent a lot of time swearing at my screen and searching the support forums.
I would get so mad at myself for not being able to do things quickly. I was so busy focusing on what I couldn’t do and yelling at myself that I never noticed my own accomplishments, however small they were. Blogging had started out as a fun new project but slowly I turned it into a taxing, difficult chore. Every time I sat down to write I would get anxious.
Self-Compassion Done Right
Acknowledging your shortcomings allows for learning and growth
I had to come to terms with myself. I needed to understand and accept that I didn’t know everything. I needed to be patient with myself so that I would be able to learn. After a few months and dinner with a friend, who suggested that I get a domain name, I took the second step and upgraded by starting an actual website.
But this time I came at it from a different perspective. I realized there was no way I could know how to do everything. And I realized that it was ok. Anything I didn’t know I could learn, and once I did it a couple times, I would have learned something new.
Now don’t get me wrong. I still stumble when I’m working on my site. I still get frustrated with my lack of knowledge, but it doesn’t affect me the same way it used to. Now when I swear at my screen, and I do swear at it, I remember how far I’ve come.
Tips for More Self-Compassion
Check out Dr. Kristin Neff's Three Elements of Self-Compassion that are breifly summarized below
Be kind to yourself and allow yourself a break when you’re completely worn out. It’s important to know when you feel overworked and give yourself time to recharge.
Understand that it’s okay to have bad days. Feeling angry, frustrated, and sad happens when things get hard. We all feel these emotions, and it’s ok to have them, acknowledge them, and work through them.
3. Realize that we all imperfect, mortal, and vulnerable. We all have moments of suffering, but we are not really alone or isolated, even if we feel that way sometimes.