Practicing Self Compassion – to rebuild confidence

Practicing self compassion_Jodie Cooper_positive psychology coach and wellbeing workshops_2023
Practicing self compassion may well be one of the most important things you do this year. Too many people focus on what they do wrong, where they failed or the times they missed the mark instead of noticing the things they did well. (Which is pretty normal when we take into account the negativity bias.) 
However, WE ARE NOT PERFECT. Nor should we expect ourselves to be. “From the crooked timber of humanity, no straight thing can be made.” I love this quote as a reminder that our imperfections are what make us unique and to reign in our expectations. 
Self compassion can help with this. It enables motivation, lifts confidence and builds resililience. However it’s often under used and mis-understood.

What is Self Compassion

Kristen Neff defines three core elements of self compassion. The first is to recognise your own thoughts and emotions, let’s call that mindfulness. Then, try to let go of judging thoughts and emotions as right or wrong. The second is to identify that all humans invariably stuff up at some point. You are definitely not alone in feeling like you’re struggling. Finally, it’s applying a little kindness to yourself. Find a way that you can be understanding and cut yourself some slack in the moment.

Three elements of Self Compassion;

1) Being mindfully aware of your thoughts, emotions and the broader context. E.G. I’m feeling really frustrated, and that’s OK considering what I’m dealing with.
2) Common humanity recognises that failures and faults as part of being human. E.G. Everyone stuff’s up sometimes, I’m not the only one in this situation.
3) Practicing self kindness by finding ways to be gentle and kind to yourself. E.G. I should take a short walk and clear my head before I do anything else.


Practicing self compassion is reflecting on a professional mistake (like missing a deadline) and being able to move forward. You could say to yourself, “It’s OK, I’ve done as much as I could, and given the circumstances, it’s surprising I got this far. Actually, I need to take a break right now (rather than getting wound up and feeling overwhelmed) and that makes me a normal person.” When you give yourself that freedom and space it means there is less room for guilt or shame. With self compassion there’s no space to beat yourself up and you can move forward in the kindest possible way.

Imagine all day long you had someone following you around pointing out your failures or the areas where you didn’t excel. It wouldn’t’ take long to get down on yourself, to feel like a failure and to step back from trying. Well, that’s exactly what most people do in their professional lives. They take their negativity bias and apply it to themselves constantly, then wonder why they feel depressed, anxious or overwhelmed.
Self Compassion is a much better, and much faster way to move forward.

Practicing Self Compassion

I’m sure there is a little room in your life and your day to be kind to yourself. If you’re been thinking “What is Self Compassion?” now you know. If it sounds like a challenging principle, here are three simple ways to practice self compassion:

  1. Think of what your best friend would say, then take their kind words and make them yours.
  2. Create some space from the issue. Take a walk, shift your energy and just breathe for a while.
  3. Gain a new perspective. Rethink the big picture and ask if this will still matter five years from now.
  4. Do something positive for your body. Rest, stretch, eat something healthy or go outdoors and play.
  5. Connect with someone you know will re-energise you and lift your spirits. (This may well be a dog!)

There will always be periods in your life to challenge yourself and push yourself, self compassion is really about recognising the times you need to consolidate and be kind and put that growth and ambition to the side for another day.

Want more? You may also like my article about Santosha – A theory of keeping life in balance.

In short, self compassion stops the downward spiral of beating yourself up and cascading negativity. It also free’s you up to move forward in a direction that sits with your values and purpose.
Good luck, and if you need any support or coaching, drop me a line and we can talk through it.