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Self-Compassion and Acceptance

Overview: Self-Compassion and Acceptance

Self-compassion may feel like a strategy that would hinder performance. People wrongly assume that compassion means letting yourself ‘get away’ with things or not pushing yourself hard enough. But self-compassion is crucial for high performers, because it facilitates a more positive mood and optimism and lower levels of anxiety – a lot more useful than the rubbish feeling we are left with when we beat ourselves up. Self-compassion is all about directing our attention in a kind and helpful way through the way we think and behave. We can provide ourselves with encouraging talk and engage in positive behaviours instead of being self-critical and harsh with ourselves. When we have self-compassion, we demonstrate tolerance and a non-judgemental attitude with ourselves.

The Why

If we engage in self-compassion we are able to calm down our fight or flight system – the emotional system that is active when we feel stressed, anxious or angry. Self-compassion also allows us to come to a place of acceptance about things and events. It helps us recognise challenging situations more clearly as natural “speed bumps” and inevitable parts of life.

Exercise

Stop

Stop and start paying attention to how you are with yourself. Are you self-critical a lot of the time? Do you often have a go at yourself? Do you put others needs above your own?

Challenge

If you answer yes to any of the questions, then start to challenge this way of thinking and behaving. What can you do to soothe and comfort yourself? Is it fair to be that harsh with yourself? How would others feel if you talked to them the way you can sometimes talk to yourself? Do you think you can look at your own needs as well as others?

Change

Start making some basic changes which will mean you are being more kind and compassionate with yourself.

There are a number of different exercises you can do to help boost your self-compassion

  • Changing your critical self-talk
    Start to notice what sort of language are you using with yourself. Speak to and encourage yourself the way you would speak to and encourage others if you wanted them to feel motivated and happy. Look at the statements you use when you talk to yourself and try to change critical and negative language into something more positive.
  • Kind gestures to yourself
    We’re used to doing nice things to others if they are feeling challenged. So start rewarding yourself with the sort of things you know you like or enjoy. Especially after you have achieved something.
    List things that comfort you, soothe you, make you happy. Commit to giving yourself at least one of these a day
  • Self-compassion 5-minute break
    Take 5 minutes away from what you are doing to give yourself some warmth and kindness. This will be totally personal to you, from making yourself a cup of tea to taking yourself outside or speaking to a friend. Think about what these might be.

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