Being Kind to Yourself: The Power of Self-Compassion

We often address the obstacles that hinder personal growth, such as fear and self-doubt. Today, we’re going to delve into the concept of self-compassion, a powerful tool for shifting from a mindset of fear and self-doubt to one of self-compassion and self-improvement. In this article, we’ll explore the insights gained from a podcast featuring researcher Kristen Neff, where she emphasizes the importance of being kind to oneself and the positive impact it can have on overall well-being.

Overcoming Fear and Self-Doubt

Fear and self-doubt are common barriers that hold many individuals back. They often manifest as overthinking and hesitancy to speak up, even when we have valuable contributions to make. We ponder what might happen if we’re wrong, particularly in situations where our peers are present, intensifying our self-doubt. However, it’s crucial to consider the worst-case scenario in such situations – perhaps you’ll make a mistake or look a bit foolish. Is that a sufficient reason to refrain from participating?

The “20 Seconds of Insane Courage” Technique

To combat this fear and self-doubt, we can employ the “20 seconds of insane courage” technique. This approach involves mustering the courage to face challenging situations head-on, even if it feels intimidating. This idea was inspired by the movie “We Bought a Zoo,” where the character played by Matt Damon encourages his son to express his feelings to a girl he likes. Remarkably, this technique reminds us that much of the drama we create in our minds is unfounded. By considering the worst possible outcome, we often realize that it’s not as dire as we imagine.

Being More Courageous

Furthermore, practicing 20 seconds of insane courage can help us become more courageous in various aspects of life. As we repeatedly practice this technique, we build a foundation of self-assurance. We repeatedly prove to ourselves that we can tackle challenges. This newfound courage enables us to BE MORE of what we need to be to achieve our goals.

In fact, this technique can be applied to virtually anything you aspire to accomplish. Think about your aspirational goal and consider what it means to BE MORE of whatever quality or attribute would be most beneficial. Then, take deliberate steps to practice BEING MORE – whether it’s being more courageous, bold, creative, innovative, compassionate, or any other trait that aligns with your goals. Consistent and purposeful practice in BEING MORE will reinforce this newfound skill and drive you closer to your objectives.

The Role of Self-Compassion

In the podcast The Hidden Brain, researcher Kristen Neff introduced a new dimension to overcoming fear and self-doubt through the concept of self-compassion. Self-compassion involves how we speak to ourselves when we make mistakes or face setbacks. Instead of berating ourselves, we can practice self-compassion by offering kind, understanding words. This practice can include acknowledging our ability to grow and improve, even when we stumble.

Self-Compassionate Self-Talk

In Self-Leadership coaching, you learn specifically formulated questions to disrupt your habitual, often negative thinking patterns. Practicing self-compassion is one of those types of questions, that involves positive self-talk. For instance, you can say, “What do I know about my ability to grow and become better?”, followed by positive affirming statements, “See, that wasn’t so hard”, “At least I raised my hand; that was a brave step,” or “Congratulations, you did it!”. By adopting a self-compassionate mindset, you can offer yourself encouragement and understanding, reducing the impact of self-doubt over time.

“What do I know about my ability to grow and become better?”

Building the Skill of Self-Compassion

Like many aspects of personal development, self-compassion is a skill that requires practice. It involves disrupting existing thought patterns and creating new, more supportive ones. This transformation won’t happen overnight, but consistent practice, particularly in moments of self-doubt, can help you become more self-compassionate.

Applying Self-Compassion in Real Life

Let’s illustrate how self-compassion can be applied in real-life scenarios. A client who is a recent college graduate secured an entry-level professional job. In their first year, they grappled with the typical self-doubt that often accompanies stepping into the professional world.

During that time, they experienced the stress and uncertainty of learning a new role. However, by working with a supportive manager and team, they gradually built their courage and confidence. By practicing self-compassion, they came to realize that it would take time, and it was okay NOT to have all the answers right away. This mindset shift made a significant difference.

Now, as this client transitions into a larger role with increased responsibilities, the benefits of their self-compassion practice become evident. They’re no longer interacting solely with peers but are engaging with managers and higher-level decision-makers. The foundation of self-compassion they laid during their first year has prepared them well for this transition.

Their ability to ask questions, seek guidance when needed, and accept that they are still learning has positioned them as a competent and adaptable professional. This transformation highlights the practicality of self-compassion in navigating the challenges of career changes, at any stage of life, fostering growth, and successfully embracing new responsibilities.

Unrealistic Expectations and the Learning Curve

Another client, new to their role, understands that their years of education marked the beginning of their career journey. They’re coming to terms with the reality that becoming proficient in a new role is a process that requires time. They are gradually growing comfortable with the fact that they won’t have all the knowledge right away.

This client’s experience highlights a common issue many of us face: having overly high expectations of ourselves. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking we should know more than is realistically possible in learning something new. We often put undue pressure on ourselves, expecting perfection right from the start. However, the truth is that genuine growth and expertise develop gradually over time, following a natural learning curve.

Recognizing this reality is a vital step in cultivating self-compassion. It involves being understanding with ourselves and accepting that it’s okay not to have all the answers immediately. By doing so, we relieve ourselves of the burden of unrealistic expectations and create a path for genuine personal and professional growth.

Conclusion: The Benefits of Self-Compassion

In conclusion, Kristen Neff’s research, emphasizes the importance of self-compassion. It’s a skill that, much like a muscle, can be developed over time. Learning to speak to ourselves in a kinder, more supportive way is not only beneficial but also supported by the 4,000 studies on this topic now. Being self-compassionate positively impacts our mental health and overall well-being.

So, if you find yourself grappling with fear and self-doubt, particularly when it comes to participating or asking questions, remember to consider the worst-case scenario, muster your 20 seconds of insane courage, and practice self-compassion. You can start by jotting down a few self-compassionate phrases to use when self-doubt creeps in. By doing so, you’ll be on your way to a more compassionate and confident you.

We hope you found this exploration of self-compassion enlightening and that you can apply it to your own life. If you’d like to learn how you can become more self-compassionate or want to explore self-leadership development to enhance your leadership skills and develop your employees’ potential, please schedule a personal introduction with me. Your journey is just beginning, and I’ll be here to support you every step of the way.

Kristin Clark is a certified Axiogenics Coach and co-author of Living a Richer Life; It’s All in Your Head. She has coached hundreds of people from a range of backgrounds and beliefs, industries, and professions. Kristin trains and coaches executives, leaders, and individuals in Valuegenic Self-Leadership. This powerful development program will help you tame your limiting thoughts to master your mindset for more confidence, clarity, impact, and meaning, so you can start Living a Richer Life.

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