Do you practice self-compassion at work?


Is there room for self-compassion in your work life?

I came across this question in a talk by Dr Kristin Neff a few months ago and it caught me completely off-guard. The concept seemed so foreign to me: Self-compassion and work? Never in my life had I put those two words together in the same sentence.

On the contrary, in the past, I have been notoriously good at hitting myself in the head with everything from lack of motivation on bad days to missed deadlines. My general reasoning behind being that if I was really hard on myself, I’d have a better chance of reaching my goals, of succeeding. And sadly I’ve heard the same reasoning frequently echoed by colleagues and friends:

“If only I was more disciplined...”, “I should know this by now”, “I just need to put more hours into it”, “All I have to do is just pick myself up by the bootstraps” Sounds familiar?

But, when I dived into the research on self-compassion and work I discovered something surprising: There is no evidence that taking self-compassion out of the equation, will make your work better. In fact, being hard on yourself will make you less efficient.

To others, this might come as no surprise. To me, it was a completely mind-blowing fact that made me do a complete 360 analysis of the way I approach my tasks and challenges at work.

Being self-compassionate

So, why is it that self-compassion is an almost embarrassing word to think at work, let alone say out loud?

As Dr Neff points out in this talk, many of us think of self-compassion and ambition as being mutually exclusive. For a lot of us, words like ‘driven’, ‘self-motivated’ and ‘efficient’ don’t immediately rhyme with self-compassion. But in the light of the research done on this topic, maybe it’s time we think of self-compassion and ambition more as being codependent?

Do you allow yourself to have self-compassion at work? And how do you incorporate it into your every day life at the office?
Please, share your thoughts.



Photo via Mackenzie Abraham