A Well-Oiled Mind, Part 2: More On Emotional Wellbeing Through Self-Compassion
Plain and simple: A functional mind equals a sharp and creative professional who’s prepared to meet the challenges of a multi-dimensional career. Such a professional is experiencing a high level of emotional wellbeing with a strategy of compassion at her core. In my recent prequel to this article, I illustrated how compassion for colleagues begins with compassion for oneself by avoiding self-sabotage. I also highlighted the notions that lead to personal overwhelm, such as aversion to perceived vulnerabilities and the social constructs that get stretched out of proportion on the digital media landscape.
Many of us talk ourselves out of self-compassion by insisting that it’s more appropriate to place ourselves last. We consider self-care to be self-ish, ignoring the central notion that we must take care of ourselves first if we want to be able to fully care for others, whether they be colleagues or loved ones. Remember: There’s a good reason why flight attendants direct us to fasten our own oxygen masks before assisting a child.
My hope is that you’ve begun to take seriously the traps the await our emotions and have considered the ways to rein them in and achieve the type of emotional wellbeing that helps professionals shine. Let’s explore some additional considerations to further stress the importance of achieving personal wellbeing via self-compassion.
Break The Cycle
Have you ever silently beaten yourself up for a tiny misstep, for not seizing an opportunity, or worse, for a non-issue like stumbling over a couple of words in a business meeting? For a time, I made such self-cruelty into a lifestyle, and for that, I paid a price that was far heftier than the fallout of the initial misstep.
People don’t often realize that when their inner critic is given a microphone, it can quickly become a megaphone, allowing her to drown out everything else. When my inner critic Eve was screaming so loudly that I couldn’t hear myself think, it meant I was showing up without my prefrontal cortex engaged. That lead to sub-par outcomes from important business situations, which in-turn resulted in more self-anger until it became a viscous cycle. Once I decided to break the cycle by transforming self-critique into self-compassion, a magical thing happened: My stress was diminished, and I became a more focused and measured businessperson.
No Shame In Suffering
It’s pretty easy to encounter those “tough guys” or “superwomen” who go out of their way not to feel compassion, wishing that others would join their mindset camp. Suffering is not in their vocabulary, and they’re on a mission to delete it from yours. Case in point: A good friend of mine lost her husband way before his time, and only two months later her son told her to “suck it up”, expressing that it was time for her to move on. This “advice” would sound wildly insensitive to almost anyone, but to me, it also sounded impossible to adhere to. I simply recalled the time when another friend of mine was killed in a tragic act of irresponsibility by her self-help practitioner. I couldn’t emerge from my darkened state of mourning for nearly 2 years, let alone 2 months! The point is this: Just as allowing oneself to suffer is not a sign of weakness or indulgence, being sensitive to another’s suffering is an emotionally intelligent act of compassion. Both are direct avenues to personal wellbeing.
Forget About The Joneses
As a society, it seems we’re too “busy” trying to keep up with being, well, busy. You know the drill: Because everyone else is doing it, it’s assumed you should be, too. One unfortunate result is that we neglect our own physical health and resilience in the process. Remember, being “too busy” can translate to too busy for physical fitness. By not being truly tuned-into our physical wellbeing, we as Americans have found ourselves overweight and sleep-deprived. Our “suck it up and move on” attitude, our keeping pace with the Joneses, our weighing in on our “90-hour workweeks”, and our insistence on “sleeping when we’re dead” has us keeping our bodies and minds on the back burner. Our nature needs to switch to nurture, stat! Instead of beating ourselves up, we need to tell ourselves we care, and to express it through exercise and improved sleeping habits. Wellbeing is the natural byproduct of well-kept.