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Practicing Self-Compassion: An Exercise for Leaders

leaders should practice self-compassion
Leaders often overlook the importance of caring for themselves. But, it is crucial for success. This exercise can help you increase your self-compassion as a leader!

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Are you a leader? Chances are, if you’re leading others, you might take less time to care for yourself. Yet, new research shows that demonstrating self-compassion helps leaders to feel and act more like leaders. It’s important to remember that leaders are not just those who have formal power in organizations. Leaders have power and influence over others. This means that you might be a leader, even if your title doesn’t formally deem you one. Does this apply to you? Keep reading to find an easy way to show yourself some compassion and become a better leader in the process!

What is Self-Compassion?

Self-compassion is a healthy way of viewing yourself, that ensures you don’t judge yourself too harshly. Self-compassion involves six different ways of thinking about yourself. First, it involves being kind to oneself. This means being tolerant of your flaws and showing yourself grace when you make mistakes. Second, it involves avoiding self-judgment spirals. When you’re down on yourself, and thinking negatively, you are not demonstrating self-compassion. Third, self-compassion involves remembering that everyone has flaws. It’s allowing yourself to be human!

Fourth, it’s about avoiding withdrawing and believing you are inferior when you make an error. If you’re telling yourself that you’re more flawed than everyone else, or feeling alone in your struggles, you are not showing yourself compassion. Fifth, self-compassion requires looking at your emotions on balance and seeing the bigger picture. It’s recognizing that you might be frustrated right now, but you won’t be frustrated forever. Finally, it’s about avoiding ruminating about negative things that are happening around you. Overall, you are showing yourself compassion if you are able to forgive yourself, accept your humanity, and avoid negative emotion spirals.

Being a leader can be challenging. Self-compassion can help leaders weather the storm!
Being a leader can be challenging. But, self-compassion can help leaders weather the storm!

How Can Leaders Practice Self-Compassion?

If you struggle with self-compassion as a leader, there is good news. A quick and easy daily exercise can help you to show more compassion to yourself over time. It can be hard to bounce back from challenges as a leader. There is a lot riding on your shoulders and it can be hard to take on responsibility when times are tough. Yet, showing yourself compassion can help you to get through rough patches and continue to lead effectively.

Here is how to practice self-compassion. Each day, try engaging in a bit of self-reflection using a self-compassion prompt. Write 2-5 sentences each morning about a time when you showed yourself compassion as a leader during a hard time. Just thinking about how you have showed yourself compassion before can help. For example, you might write about a time when you showed yourself patience and understanding during a challenge. Or you might think about how you have showed yourself kindness and compassion as a leader facing hardships. Finally, you might remember a time you forgave yourself or were tolerant of your flaws as you practiced leadership in a tough situation. Overall, just a few sentences a day can help you to increase your self-compassion as a leader!

It only takes a couple of minutes a day to practice self-compassion as a leader!
It only takes a couple of minutes a day to practice self-compassion as a leader!

What are the Outcomes of this Exercise?

Doing this exercise can help you to feel more like a leader. When you remember that you have made it through tough times before, and that you are allowed to feel vulnerable or unsure when you do, your leadership identity gets solidified. In other words, you know that you can do it – even though you have flaws and might make missteps. This helps you to boost your identification with being a leader overall!

When you feel more like a leader, you act more like a leader. This means that you help your followers with their tasks more frequently. And you help them with personal challenges more often as well. Particularly with regard to the latter, followers begin to see you as more effective, the more you help them to overcome their own hang-ups. So, not only does self-compassion help you to behave in more leader-like ways, it also makes others see you as a better leader. We have talked about the importance of self-care before. Leaders are not immune to needing it! In fact, it’s crucial for your success.

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