The Self-Compassionate Leader

The end of August for me is a time for reflection, back to work with organizations ramping up for their next fiscal year, and for many back to school.  I always get a little tense around this time partly because I know I can no longer wear summer dresses and cute shoes in a few weeks 😦

Life throws at you the good, the bad, and the ugly.

We know this, and most of the time we want to avoid the bad and the ugly. No one wants to suffer. However, it’s part of the deal. The deal of life. This past summer I’ve been submerging myself in a ton of situations and opportunities that have stretched me beyond my comfort zone, and because of this, my inner critic has been REALLY loud.

What I mean by my “inner critic” is the mean things I say to myself that do not help my performance, self-esteem, or the way I feel about life. I never realized how much I was doing this until this summer and of course with the help of my Leadership Coach. Then I thought about what it looked like on the outside of someone who is hard on themselves?

Not an attractive leader.

Every time you up level in this game of life ( and you are the protagonist in this story btw) your inner critic, gremlins, or saboteurs to name a few go wild! This is because they have developed habits over an extended period by outside forces other than your own.

They kind of sound like this.

  • “You are so shit and not skilled at this yet.”
  • “You are 30 years old already, how do you not have this figured out, everyone else has it figured out.”
  • “How are you a public motivational speaker? You don’t even have your own life figured out?”
  • “What’s wrong with you that you can’t achieve any of your dreams?”
  • “Everyone thinks you’re a failure because you don’t have a corporate job, marriage, and kids, a home, etc. Pretty useless if you ask me.”
  • “Your coworkers are better at this than you.”
  • “It’s going to take you YEARS to move up the corporate latter.”
  • ” Build a business at your age? Psh…you might as well give up now because only experienced individuals can do this kind of stuff.”
  • “They are right. You are not skilled enough for this.”

OK – so some of these are a little exaggerated, but you can get a sense for how those sound and feel inside my head and in my body. Not very motivating at least in the long run. I’ve been sprinting my way through a marathon thinking I would never get tired because I’m invincible. Wrong.

This list can go on. Eventually what happens is that you begin to look at failure as a negative thing or a bad thing and it tends to stop you in your tracks. Eventually failing seems worse than where you are now. So you give up and feel like shit because you are never good enough to get what you want. That’s been my story for awhile. Ever since I was a little girl the bar was set high, and if I didn’t meet it, I didn’t amount to anything of value, and I didn’t have the skills or consciousness to give myself self-compassion. I didn’t even know what it truly meant until I began reading Self-Compassion by Kristin Neff. Can you be nice to yourself for making mistakes? WOAH. Forgiveness and vulnerability are compelling and two key ingredients to sustaining relationships and the relationship you have with yourself. I don’t need to feel shame anymore by things I did or said. I do need to forgive myself and learn from my mistakes if I want to be the human being I want to be which is full of love, compassion, decisiveness, leadership, fun and flirty energy 🙂 watch out!

Now as in today, I am changing this story, and I will be practicing self-compassion more and more to myself. I don’t want to be the type of person who only feels like they are succeeding based on achievements or performance because humans aren’t perfect and we mistakes. Success isn’t a ladder you keep climbing without falling a few steps behind. Take a look at your life map up until now, and you’ll see all the dips and raises you took. The greatest heroes have ups and downs too.

I will wait for the right opportunities in my life that I desire. This goes for every aspect of my life. Love, career, friendships, home space, and fun. The kinder you are to yourself, the more “right” opportunities will come your way and you will be able to recognize it immediately. Thank you, Abraham Hicks for this intel.

Remember you are the protagonist of your own life so give yourself credit, be kind to yourself, learn from mistakes, be kind to others and raise the standard. There is no need to feel shame, embarrassed, unworthy or deflated. You can feel differently when you understand that life happens for you not to you. How do you want to feel?

I hope this is helpful for those of you who are perfectionists, and hyper-achievers like me. Even if you are not those things, you can see that by being kinder to yourself helps you be the leader this world needs. The world is waiting for you, your ideas, and your leadership to make it a better and more compassionate place for all those to benefit from.

-Sonia