Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Studies Show: You + Self-Compassion = More Achievements

This week, I'm thrilled to be featured in this piece that Sarah W. Caron wrote on about the importance of self-compassion and how we can get some. It seems that studies show that if we can be compassionate to ourselves, we're apt to achieve more and accomplish more.

Accomplish more? Achieve more? Annnnnd, I'm in.

The question Caron proposed was, how?

If you're anything like me, and I dare to think a lot of women people are, most of the time you're too busy relentlessly driving yourself to be all self-compassionate. So I stopped and really considered: why? Why do we do this? And here's what I came up with: we relentlessly drive ourselves because we are raised to always focus outward and compare ourselves to some external hallmark of beauty/success/partnership/happiness.

Hmmm. And what's a certain thing I teach that's all about looking inward and not being competitive? Starts with a "y," ends with an "a" and is one middle letter off from that adorable little green jedi from Star Wars.

And that's when I also realized (yes, brilliance was high that day) that practicing yoga had actually correlated with caring a whole lot less about what everyone else was doing/thinking/being and being brave enough to leave my corporate life/career/identity and go after what I really wanted: teaching yoga and writing a book.

If you don't have time or access to yoga, you can also try the breathing, stress-relieving exercise in the article.

Chasing the Dream: Self-compassion helps you do more

Studies say those with self-compassion achieve more and accomplish more goals. Harness your own compassion for yourself in parenting, life and all your aspirations.

Have compassion...
for yourself

Jennifer Gaddis, creator of the site, was recently in a conference with her 9-year-old's teacher. Her son wasn't doing well in class. After the conference, she mentally beat herself up for not doing enough to help him — which just made everything worse.

She was lacking compassion for herself. "Finally I sat down and I thought, how can we make it better? To harness compassion for one's self, you must — and always — stop blaming yourself. Ask yourself how can you make it better? Tomorrow will be a new day," says Gaddis.

Experts say that self-compassion, a challenging goal, is important to achieving your goals since it allows you to roll with the punches and move ahead.

"My theory is this: Women are raised to constantly compare ourselves to something other than what we are — everything from how we look to our jobs, our parenting, our marriage, our 'success.' It's always about looking out, around us, and then never living up to that perceived better standard," says Sara DiVello, a registered yoga teacher who is certified with the Yoga Alliance. "The result is a combination of constant comparison which creates co-morbid anxiety — women are stressed about how they don't measure up and are also in a state of constant mental activity (anxiety) from all this comparing."

Gaining perspective

So, how do you de-stress and allow yourself that necessary self-compassion? DiVello suggests taking a step back. "Take a moment to sit down. Often, we're stressed but we don't take the time to sit down and deal with it — instead, we continue rushing around, absentmindedly stressing about how stressed we are... which only escalates our stress," says DiVello.

Then, give yourself a chance to focus. Think of what's stressing you out and take a deep breath. Exhale (extending it longer than your inhale) and flick your hands as though you're trying to get something off of them (you are — the stress!). Also known as the 'there's no paper towels in the restroom flick.' Repeat three to five times. Now, settle into extended exhale breathing (as described above) with the eyes closed for three to five minutes," says DiVello.

And guess what? I tried this... it really does help.

Achieving your goals

Having self-compassion makes embracing failure — the necessary things that we can all learn from — useful tools in our quests to reach our dreams. And as daunting as it may seem to skip the self-berating and learn from our mistakes, it is key to achieving your goals. "Self-compassion is kindness toward yourself and your mistakes. It helps you get up from failure, survive a divorce and be more joyful in the present. Yes, it can also help you be a better parent because you will have compassion for your kids when they make mistakes," says Maryann Reid, lifestyle expert at
Start with small changes that begin to free yourself from the negative talk that holds you back, says Kathryn Vercillo, author of Crochet Saved My Life. "It can be daunting to try to change that negative self-talk in those large areas of life since they are so ingrained into the way that we think. By starting small, in just one area like crafting, we can begin to learn to nip that negativity in the bud," says Vercillo.
For Vercillo, that's meant crocheting with abandon — and not taking a negative tone with the results. What will it mean for you?



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