Guest Blog Post by: Mariane Power, Co-Founder of The Posify Group
When I first learned of self-compassion, I was fearful that it would prevent me from working on my weaknesses. For a long time, I subscribed to the belief system that in order to get ahead in today’s fast-paced and competitive world, I needed to strive, push myself hard and focus in on whatever it was I perceived I should be better at. As a mum of two young children, a small business owner, and full-time student, there was always going to be room for improvement. I had my inner critic working at a full-time capacity, with the belief that if I could pick out my own flaws, I’d somehow beat everyone else from doing the same.
The more I started talking to like-minded women, the more I realised how common our self-talk was. Our goal setting and to do lists were littered with self defeating lists of “could, should, and would haves”. Hearing these women I admired and loved speaking so harshly of themselves seemed counterproductive and quite frankly, cruel. When it comes to our friends, we’re the first to acknowledge their pain, suffering and setbacks, comforting and encouraging them by reminding them of their efforts and strengths. We feel relief when our compassion lands effectively, and we see their spirits lift. So why do so few of us offer the same kindness to ourselves? I came to realise a simple truth. All that criticism and self judgment was slowing me down and getting in the way of being my most productive and flourishing self.
I’m an evidence based kinda gal, and the findings on self-compassion sold its benefits and blew my fears out of the water. Learning to approach our own setbacks with kindness and empathy activates our innate care-giving systems that produce a flow on effect of feel good hormones. The result? Decreased stress and connectedness and happiness. And my fears that self-compassion would be a motivation buzzkill were blown out of the water. Even short bursts of practice have been shown to improve self-motivation behaviours. Self-compassion doesn’t consist of being selfish, wallowing in self-pity or being self-indulgent. Rather, it involves accepting that suffering, inadequacies and failure make up the human condition, and that each and every one of us, including ourselves, are worthy of compassion.
Here are three main changes you can make to start experiencing the benefits of self-compassion today:
Replace self-judgment with self-kindness. Yep, that means taking a hard look at that nasty inner critic and finding some space for understanding, empathy and hope. Ask yourself, ‘is this how I would talk to a friend in the same situation?’
Be mindful of the experience. Take time to stop and examine how you feel in the present moment, no matter how stressful or distressing the experience might be. Truly validate your experience and you’ll make room for recovery and growth.
Adopt the perspective that pain and suffering is common to everyone. Our default belief systems can have us thinking we are the only ones to suffer stress, hardship, and hurt, reinforced by the filtered lives of social media we peruse every day. Bringing perspective to our suffering reminds us that no-one is perfect. We are all flawed, we all make mistakes, and are all faced with life’s challenges.
For me, applying these skills in times of stress, suffering and despair has been like finding a bunch of new best friends. I now have the ability to comfort, encourage with messages of hope, remind myself of the value of my wildest dreams, and strengthen my hold. The best news is, these new friends are with me wherever I go, ready to take that emergency call in time of need, and help me shift from striving into thriving. And the good news is, through self-compassion, your new best friends are ready and waiting for you to thrive too.
Keen to learn more about how you can develop self-compassion tools for a thriving life? Sign up to our free upcoming webinar workshop here.
For more information about The Posify Group and how you can infuse more purpose into your life, workplace, school or community, head over to www.theposifygroup.com.au or follow them on social media @posifygroup