“Self-compassion is key because when we’re able to be gentle with ourselves in the midst of shame, we’re most likely to reach out, connect, and experience empathy.” — Brene Brown
Leaders are often called to be more compassionate and empathetic, but we always forget to extend the same kindness to ourselves. We are human too, and self-compassion is a practice that allows us to honor that humanness.
A lot of us tend to be too hard on ourselves and subject ourselves to impossible standards. As a result, when we experience setbacks and failures, we tend to become stagnant, and all our previous progress is put to a halt.
But as Louise L. Hay said, “You’ve been criticizing yourself for years, and it hasn’t worked. See what happens if you try to approve of yourself."
So, what is self-compassion, and how can it make us better leaders?
The easiest way to understand self-compassion is to treat yourself with the same kindness you extend to others. Compassion is about empathizing with others and being prepared to help them. But compassion is a two-way street. If it goes outward, it must also extend within.
In the same way that you try to develop empathy to understand, accept, and show care for others, you need to develop the same understanding, acceptance, and care for yourself. It means being aware of your thoughts and feelings and how those affect your actions and decisions, without passing judgment. It is also about accepting your imperfections and facing them head-on to grow.
Self-compassion is often misunderstood; it isn’t the same as being selfish, indulgent, and lenient with yourself. It just means giving yourself enough love, care, and understanding to help you move forward and overcome challenges and setbacks that come your way.
It is about giving yourself the inner strength that you need to push through without sacrificing your mental health.
As leaders, we are responsible for making most of the decisions, and that can put a lot of pressure on us. Plus, we have to make sure that while our business is running properly and gaining profit, at the same time our families and loved ones are well taken care of.
We constantly juggle so many things, both in our personal and professional lives, that most of us forget to take care of ourselves. While the rest of the world may applaud that as an act of "self-sacrifice," it isn't the healthiest, most sustainable, or most ideal path to success.
There are ways to succeed without sacrificing others or ourselves—through compassion.
When we are able to treat ourselves kindly, we are in a better headspace to deal with our problems and mistakes without getting lost in shame and self-blame. It helps us see failure as a challenge and opportunity instead of internalizing it and thinking, “I am a failure because I failed.”
The way we deal with failure sets an example for the people around us on how they can overcome obstacles and fail forward.
Harsh self-talk does nothing but contribute to our stress and can be damaging to our mental health. This could cause more issues for our personal lives and businesses in the long run.
When you can treat yourself with compassion, it is easier to treat others with more genuine warmth, kindness, and encouragement as well. This helps you build better relationships inside and outside the workplace. A kind leader also improves employee morale and engagement and helps build a healthier workplace culture.
This influences how your consumers see the company, leading to better client/customer relationships and a better brand image.
Self-compassion encourages personal growth, improves overall well-being, leads to higher and more sustainable productivity, and fosters better, more meaningful relationships.
Remember: Kindness radiates. The more full your cup is, the more you can give to others. As a leader, it is important to have that abundance to share with the people around you—the people that matter.
You are human too, and you deserve to treat yourself with as much kindness as you give to others.
Thanks for reading A Brilliant Tribe.