Article by Inova Consultancy

Compassion is the ability to show empathy, love, and concern to people who need our support. It’s in our nature to want to be kind to others in moments of need. So why aren’t we kind to ourselves? Many of us find it hard to turn the understanding and acceptance we extend to others inward, through self-compassion. We worry that by doing this, we are engaging in narcissistic tendencies such as self-indulgence or self-pity, but in reality, self-compassion is not self-centered at all, but an essential tool we need to achieve emotional wellbeing. It has three key elements: self-kindness, an acknowledgement that suffering and personal failure are part of the universal human experience, and maintaining a non-biased awareness of experiences through mindfulness techniques (Nell, 2011).

In the workplace, an environment where we may be more acutely aware of inadequacy thoughts and feelings, driven by our perceived failures, it is vital to adopt self-compassion in order to respond to inevitable challenges and to be happier at work.  What is great about self-compassion is that it does not depend on personal success, rather it works through a recognition and acceptance of our flaws which subsequently leads to personal growth and development.

Research demonstrates that self-compassion can have a multitude of benefits. Practising self-compassion is shown to reduce mental health problems, including anxiety, depression, perfectionism and stress. Moreover, it’s not just beneficial to our mental health; it can improve our physical health too, and we may even live longer as a result! Self-compassion also enhances our self-worth and fosters resilience, the ability to bounce back after setbacks. It empowers us to be adaptable and helps us to identify problems, accept negative feedback from others, and change habits that no longer align with our best interests. In turn, it boosts happiness, life satisfaction and motivation.

Sounds good right?  Imagine self-compassion is a muscle- we need to use it often, or it gets weaker. Therefore, it’s vital to continually practise this skill. Whilst there is a wealth of advice on the internet about how to adopt a mindset of self-compassion, don’t feel overwhelmed! Here are three simple habits to cultivate it for the long term.

The first habit involves re-evaluating our self-talk in order to transition away from negative thoughts to ones with self-compassion. Self-talk refers to our inner voice and is something that we are engaged in constantly, often subconsciously. To decipher if you speak to yourself negatively, ask yourself questions like ‘Would I speak to my best friend like this?’ If the answers highlight that you are being hard on yourself, then it’s time to change your internal dialogue to one that is more empowering by recognising when you are participating in negative self-talk. For example, instead of focusing on the negative, celebrate how far you’ve come at work so far.

The second habit involves stopping the comparison of ourselves to others at work, for example with those more senior or more “successful” than us! When social comparison becomes habitual it can have disastrous impacts on our confidence and mental health.  But, if we think back to the three self-compassion elements, the second affirms that nobody is perfect! In fact, someone is probably comparing themselves to you too. It’s important to realise that you are good enough, and by stopping comparing yourself to others, you will let yourself shine!

The final habit involves the conditioning of our mindset every day, before work, through reciting empowering and uplifting affirmations. The Reticular Activating System (RAS) is a part of our brain that makes words that get repeated over time become part of our identity. Therefore, if you repeat something positive to yourself each day, over time it becomes a part of who you are. All you need to do is choose a phrase and repeat it. Here are a few examples to get you started: “I am calm and confident.”, “I have limitless potential.”, “I have the drive and ambition to achieve my goals.”

So what are you waiting for? Join us in practising self-compassion in the workplace!