What leaders can learn from self-compassion – News Couple

What leaders can learn from self-compassion

When was the last time you stopped picking out a project you completed, and simply congratulated yourself on a job well done? Or, better yet, accepting a mistake you made without spending hours berating yourself?

The idea of ​​making time for self-compassion feels self-indulgent. But Kristen Neff says the opposite is true. Learning to take care of our emotional, physical and mental health helps us face the challenges life throws our way, and better support those around us.

Neff is an expert in self-compassion. She is the co-founder of the Center for Conscious Self-Compassion, and the author of Extreme Self-Compassion: How Women Can Harness Kindness to Speak, Claim their Strength, and Thrive And Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself. However, she is still willing to admit that even she finds it difficult to put the theory into practice at times.

“I can honestly say that after about 30 years of practicing mindfulness and self-compassion, I’m still a mess,” she says. “I still react, I still get angry, I keep saying things I regret. I’m a little better… but what I really did was be able to hold that with empathy.”

Self-compassion is not about letting go of difficult feelings and mistakes, or giving in to every whim. It’s about acknowledging the hard parts of life, and giving yourself the love you need to keep going.

Here, Neff explains the two forms of self-compassion, how leaders can benefit from practicing self-compassion, and the links between self-compassion and mindfulness.

What is self-compassion?

The concept of self-compassion is straightforward: Neff explains it as, “Self-compassion just means that you want health and well-being for yourself.” But if it were that simple in practice, we’d all do it!

The easiest way to visualize self-compassion at work is to think about how we respond when someone we love is under threat, versus when we are in danger.

When we’re in a stressful situation, our brains resort to fighting, flying, or freezing. Oftentimes, we turn the fight on ourselves. We feel ashamed, and we scrutinize our behavior intensely, hoping that it will help us identify a way to save ourselves.

But when the threat is against someone we care about, and not directly against us, we start friendship mode. We acknowledge their pain, console them, advocate for them and try to help them find a solution.

Self-compassion means shifting our internal response to threats from fight, flight, or freeze to affection and friendship.

This does not seem the same in all circumstances. Sometimes we need self-compassion to be gentle: we need to feel kindness, caring, and acceptance from ourselves. “The softer parental energy,” says Neff. And sometimes, our self-compassion must be fierce: We need to feel a wave of righteous anger and determination, so that we can take action to protect ourselves.

Men and people who have grown up as men are socialized to believe that the tender kind of self-compassion is a sign of weakness that is incompatible with “true” masculinity. In contrast, women and people who were raised as women are taught to have empathy for others but not towards themselves. They also learn that extreme self-compassion is not feminine. “So everyone is out of balance, and everyone needs balance,” says Neff.

Mindfulness is the key to self-compassion

Neff describes vigilance and self-compassion as “two wings of a bird.” The practices complement each other, and move you further when used in tandem.

Mindfulness teaches us to acknowledge our thoughts and feelings, and to accept their presence without judgment. This is critical to self-compassion, because we cannot process our feelings and needs if we do not know how to recognize and sit with them.

“You can’t be self-compassionate without vigilance,” says Neff. Otherwise, we fall into our typical human habit of avoiding and ignoring difficult emotions. “You need to be vigilant to say [to yourself], “Oh, you’re really having a hard time, what can I do to help?”

If you already practice mindfulness exercises, self-compassion is a natural way to extend these benefits. It’s not just about acknowledging how you’re feeling, but giving yourself an empathetic response.

“You promote mindfulness with honest warmth and care,” says Neff. “And this is the magic ticket: This is where everything falls into place.”

What leaders can learn from self-compassion

Leaders may just be a group of people who are most in need of self-compassion. We like to be in control, we tend to push ourselves hard, and take failure personally. All of this often leads to harsh self-talk, not much self-indulgence or inner warmth.

Leaders deserve self-compassion as much as anyone else, by virtue of being human. But in addition to being something that can improve your overall well-being, self-compassion can also make you a better leader.

First and foremost, constantly pushing and criticizing yourself is a less effective technique for any task than encouragement. This means that whenever you inevitably fail at something, any progress you make comes to a halt.

You focus on what went wrong and the mistakes you made. You worry that you might make it again. How are you supposed to find a solution to these fears that weigh on your mind?

Self-compassion means facing your mistakes head-on, and giving yourself the blessing of learning from them. “When we accept failure and mistakes as part of the learning process, and when we treat them with kindness and encouragement, we want to do better because we care,” says Neff. “It puts us in a mindset that maximizes our ability to learn and grow.”

Once you learn how to show yourself that favor, you’ll find it easier to extend it to your team. Leaders who accept their mistakes as learning opportunities, and who know the value of an understanding position, are more willing to show the same empathy to their employees. This fosters an environment of trust, where people feel encouraged to do their best, and are supported to find a solution when something goes wrong.

Neff advises combining the tender and fierce types of self-compassion. For example, setting clear performance goals and consequences if they are not achieved, then asking “How can I support you in achieving these goals?”

Self-compassion is not self-centered

Much self-improvement focuses on how to best serve others. A common misconception about self-compassion is that it is selfish, or that by showing compassion for ourselves we limit how much we show others.

But empathy is not like money in a bank account: you don’t wake up every day with a limited amount that runs out when you take it out! In fact, says Neff, people who practice self-compassion are usually better at showing these qualities to others as well.

“What we’ve found in the research is that self-compassionate people are more likely to make compromises and make sure everyone’s needs are met,” says Neff.

Because they cater to their own needs, self-compassionate people are able to avoid burnout, which in turn makes it emotionally possible for them to help others. When you feel that your basic needs are being met, you are more willing to sacrifice to make sure others are supported as well.

Another thing not self-compassion is self-indulgence. The goal of this practice is to take care of your physical and emotional health. If you are trying to calm the anxiety you are feeling through destructive behavior such as drug use or shopping, it is not self-compassion, because it is not good for you.

Self-compassion was portrayed as weak, self-absorbed, and impulse-killer. But in Neve’s experience, the opposite is true. It gives us the inner strength to face our biggest challenges without sacrificing our mental health down the road. It gives us the motivation to act, knowing that even if we fail, we will not resort to harsh self-criticism. It makes us want to show others the same unconditional compassion.

“Self-compassion is a healthy way to deal with life’s pain,” says Neff. “By definition, there is no downside to that.”

Conversation continues with Kristen Neff on Leadership with real care Audio notation. We talk more about the links between self-compassion and mindfulness, how self-compassion can fuel activism, and much more. contact with me Twitter And LinkedIn And keep up with my company one picture. check out my website Or some of my other works Here.

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