It’s hard to take time for yourself when the calendar is full, but I’m learning that might be the perfect time to do so.
Recently, Rachel and I took an online course on self-compassion from experts Kristin Neff – if you’ve ever heard anyone referencing self-compassion, it was likely her! – and Chris Germer. They have been working together since 2010.
We didn’t have an extra 12 hours in our schedule, but making time for that course was worth it. We want to be the best human beings and project managers that we can be. We accomplish this by learning, growing, and expanding our thinking.
Self-compassion is defined as having kindness and understanding for oneself under challenging times. It’s about recognizing that we all make mistakes and that being human is okay. When things go wrong, and we respond in kindness to ourselves, we are more likely to have the courage to try again.
As project managers, we are responsible for many things. Sometimes, things go wrong. When this happens, we can easily get frustrated or angry with ourselves. However, if we practice self-compassion, we will be more likely to forgive ourselves and move on. When we practice self-compassion, we can stay calm and focused during difficult times and ultimately lead a successful project.
After taking the course from Neff and Germer, I started incorporating some of their suggestions.
First of all, if you are uneasy when you see yourself on the Zoom screen, send yourself some love and self-compassion. This simple action is more challenging than you think, but it is effective. Try it next time you find yourself in a virtual meeting with the camera on. Repeat in your mind, “I’m sending myself self-compassion.”
Another practice that I’ve tried is the self-compassion break. This consists of three parts: 1) mindful awareness that suffering is present and it is hard 2) recognition that suffering is a part of life, a reminder of our common humanity, and 3) use of a statement that expresses kindness to yourself. Neff explains how to do this break in this 5-minute audio file.
Neff and Germer recommend practicing self-compassion for 20 minutes a day. This isn’t a one-and-done activity; it’s an ongoing exercise.
Once you find a practice or two that you like, showing yourself self-compassion can happen for a single minute in the middle of a meeting. You can do it while sitting at your desk or during a Zoom meeting without anyone else knowing. And, in the spirit of practice, showing yourself self-compassion isn’t about fixing something that’s broken, it’s about making it a part of your daily routines.
Neff’s website provides several free resources and practices.
Will you join me in practicing self-compassion?
Your partners in leadership.