Self-compassion: Why it’s important for you and your workplace

Heart shape
Having compassion for yourself will enable you to have more for others.

I recently stumbled upon this article at Forbes.com that focuses on why a compassionate workplace is so beneficial to the employees (and the bottom line). I completely agree with the author, Amy Morin, but I think we need to start at a more foundational level and look at self-compassion first. As a manager, you can foster a conversational and supportive environment for your employees, but if you don’t have compassion for yourself first, your empathy can only go so far.

If you have a constant stream of thoughts that sound like “I’m not good enough,” “I’m not a successful manager,” or “Soon they’ll discover that I’m a fraud,” how well do you think you can really support and motivate the employees you’re managing? Without compassion and understanding for yourself, can you really create a vibrant workplace culture that fosters learning, risk-taking, and human connection?

Self-compassion, according to one of its Western pioneers, Kristin Neff, consists of 3 core tenets:

  1. Self-kindness: Treating yourself as kindly and with as much understanding as you would a friend or loved one;
  2. Common humanity: Fostering your connectedness to others and not thinking of yourself in isolation;
  3. Mindfulness: Not ignoring the pain or frustration that comes up when you’re feeling less-than or inadequate.

By integrating compassion for yourself with your approach as a human at work, you’ll create the capacity within you to be more compassionate toward those you work with. Here’s a self-compassion mantra that I like to use anytime I have thoughts or feelings that are unkind and harmful – basically whenever I’m saying to myself what I would never say to someone I care about. Use this mantra or, better yet, make it your own; see if you can’t shake things up a bit today and just accept who and where you are – personally and professionally.

This is really difficult.

Most people probably feel this way sometimes.

I need to be compassionate toward myself in this moment.

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