Self Compassion wins the day

Brexit is beginning to feel like an April Fool, isn’t it.

It twists and turns; who knows what the ending to the story will be. Probably only one thing is guaranteed, it cannot be what all of us want.

How can we cope in a time like this? However we see our careers developing in such a turbulent context, how can we stay calm and focus on priorities important to us? In my delivery of Personal Resilience workshops last month we took time to consider questions such as these.

For me, every time, self compassion wins the day. Not only does it win the day, it saves the day and is, in fact, the only way.

What do I mean by this? As a practical example, three weeks ago I twisted my ankle. I slipped when running on a stretch of wet wooden walkway at the edge of the lake on Petersfield Heath. Ouch.

What was interesting was finding how differently I handled this situation compared with when I broke my elbow in 2012.

(And yes, I do know that a twisted ankle is not as severe an event).

My journey with self compassion in the intervening time has been influenced by the work by Dr Kristin Neff and her book “Self Compassion”.

She asks us to develop our self compassion in three main ways:

Self Kindness

The key message here is to be kind to ourselves. With my ankle, this meant not being a superhero struggling on, or pretending nothing had happened. I embraced the recommended 48-72 hours of rest, ice and elevation. I caught up on a lot of videos! I cancelled appointments, offering on-line alternatives but was happy when people wanted to rearrange. My need to be perfect at all times and in all places, never letting people down, now had a kinder interpretation on how that could be.

Common humanity

From talking with people I found it’s very common to have sprained an ankle! Lots of you told me your stories, how easy it was to do, and how much it hurt. You also mentioned physio, to recover more quickly and help avoid another incident through strengthening activities. It felt good to know I was not the only one; my physio is booked and helping!

Mindfulness

Mindfulness allowed me to engage with my thoughts and feelings about my situation in a different way, almost to become an observer of them. This allowed my negative ones to have a place without exaggeration or domination. From taking time to breathe and accept what had happened, I found perspective. This allowed me to see my ankle’s four to six week recovery period simply as it is. It is something to go with, not fight against.

My ankle is interesting, at least to me, but what is the point of this blog?

Here’s the thing. I can see clear differences in my approach between my two accidents. I am now practising self compassion, even if in a small or minor way. This feels different from Dr Kristin Neff’s work being a theory or for use as intellectual knowledge only.

Returning to Brexit, I am wondering if we could increase the role of self compassion here as well. On an individual basis, it could help us manage the raft of our emotions about the future of our country, the difficulty it brings for our businesses and the uncertainty of our future careers.

Here’s another idea too. Could collective self compassion be of help as well? Where we adopt a kinder narrative about how we as a nation have arrived together at this strange place in our history?

How could you bring these tools of self compassion to bear in your life, and also use them with your team, organisation and family too?

Gill How has a passion for Leadership Development, is a National Training Award Winner and a Master Executive Coach.  She loves to work with leaders, managers and professionals, to develop their awareness and skills, to enhance their work with their teams, their performance and results. If she can add value to your team, whether you are an L&D Director in an ambitious organisation, or a Leadership Development consultancy needing another high calibre associate in your team,

 

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4 Comments

  • Phill Slater says:

    Interesting read as always Gill. If only Brexit was an April Fool and only applicable up to noon on 1/4.

    • Gill How says:

      Thanks, Phill. Brexit doesn’t seem to be making anyone happy, does it. And compassion for all of us, might be an alternative at least as a starting point, to division and blame.

  • Sarah Cudmore says:

    Good video. Thank you for the link and the thoughts it provoked!

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