Only ten years ago, reading this type of title would have made me cringe. Back then, I took pride in pushing myself to the maximum and always wanted to do more and better. My self-worth and confidence depended on my accomplishments. Before being nice to myself, I had to earn it. The relationship I had with myself was highly conditional.
Now, I still get pleasure from accomplishing things. I am still as ambitious and passionate as I have always been, but I choose to be kind to myself no matter how things turn out. Living without a stifling inner-critic has been liberating and empowering. This shift created more success than self-judgement ever could.
What about you? If you still believe that being hard on yourself is what it takes to keep you performing at your best, please open your mind to a different perspective. You may be working too much, sacrificing too much, and creating unjustified stress and pressure in other people’s lives. Here is why:
1. Self-compassion builds trust
Having compassion for yourself means accepting that you are human. You will sometimes make mistakes and you won’t always get the results you want. As long as you are alive, there is more for you to learn, so be kind to yourself.
Be gentle with yourself when you go through a difficult time. Understand that you can choose to do your best but your best will be different when you are healthy versus when you are sick, when you are energetic versus when you are tired, or when you feel loved versus when you feel isolated. Have the same compassion for yourself as you have for others.
Embrace your humanness and give yourself permission to be who you are.
Stop being self-critical and focusing your attention on what isn’t good enough. When you have self-compassion and you own who you are, you become an exceptional leader.
When you accept yourself fully, you can finally be transparent and authentic. By showing your true self, you irresistibly draw people in.
Your campus community will trust you, find you more relatable, and be loyal to you. Your employees are human and want to see that you are human too!
2. Your self-compassion makes your employees feel safe
Leaders who lack self-compassion tend to be highly self-critical. Their excessively high standards create pressure, stress, and tension with others.
People don’t feel safe in their presence because they know nothing is ever good enough for them. If you think you can make people feel safe by being kind to them, while you have no self-compassion, think again.
People learn, not from what you say but from what you do. No matter what words you choose, they will sense your frustration, your judgement, and the stress you bring into the room. Giving them praise won’t change how they feel around you. They will be safe only when you feel safe.
By showing genuine compassion for yourself and others, you empower people to be who they truly are and believe in themselves more. You give them implicit permission to do their best without fear of punishment if something isn’t perfect. You allow them to grow and become even better assets to your organization.
3. Self-compassion creates more opportunities
If trying something new or risky means that if you fail, you will beat yourself up, lose confidence, and have regrets, you will be less likely to try. Your life will be limited to what is predictable. Your exaggerated fear of failure will make you too prudent and you will miss out on opportunities.
However, if you can try something new, do your best, and know that the outcome won’t affect your self-worth, you will be more likely to innovate and grow.
You will be safe from failure because even if you don’t get the results you want, you will value the experience. When you no longer try to be perfect, you have very little to fear, and much more energy and power to succeed.
Self-compassion is liberating! It allows you to leap outside your comfort zone, let go of your need to control things or seek predictability.
So, will you make a conscious decision to have more compassion for yourself from now on?
I gave you three powerful benefits to self-compassion and I hope that was enough to convince you. If not… let me tell you what I see in some of my clients who come to me to help them reduce stress.
Being too hard on themselves creates an unhealthy need for control. Since mistakes are not tolerated, they live in fear of doing something wrong. To cope, they work too hard, trying to control everything and do everything perfectly. They get overwhelmed and unintentionally stifle creativity and innovation in others. Their habit of looking for things to improve makes them critical. Their criticism pushes people away, leaving them feeling isolated. They sometimes crave acceptance and validation from others, unware that it is their own acceptance they desperately need. Can you relate to any of this?
Perhaps you were raised to believe that hard work and sacrifice are honorable, but you are an adult now and it’s time to examine the core beliefs that drive your decisions and actions.
You can choose a fresh start anytime. Would you rather keep people on their toes or make them happy to work with you? Would you rather be empowered or feel inadequate when you can’t achieve perfection? It’s never too late to become a better version of yourself. If you need help, I am only a phone call away.
About the author: Dr. Audrey Reille has empowered thousands of professionals through one-on-one coaching, group coaching, speaking engagements, online courses, and interviews on international telesummits. Audrey is the go-to coach for leaders in higher education administration. She empowers them to thrive by reducing stress, optimizing strategies, improving professional relationships, and developing a strong and empowered mindset.