Cultivate Self-Compassion

Two women therapists attending one of my recent workshops were talking about developing online courses in the psychological arena and building a virtual presence.


 [As an aside, there is a tremendous need for mental health professionals to be teaching and educating online so that there is greater accessibility to this kind of information.]


They both had everything required to succeed in this new endeavor—either as an adjunct to the work they are doing or more daringly to blaze a new trail and give up the day job.


Most women need to feel safe before making their decisions so in all likelihood they would both choose to add the teaching to their existing work rather than leaving jobs with no safety net…at least at the beginning.


They were both squarely in their fifties and could see this exciting path before them. The transition to a new arena in healthcare seemed rich with possibility.


Here’s what happened:


Both of the women were having a difficult time with new technology. They now had to learn applications they had never been exposed to before.


One of the women [A] was curious about the new software and whenever she couldn’t figure something out, A felt challenged as she had during college days. A was relentless until she figured out whatever was required. It never entered her mind to judge herself harshly for what she didn’t know. If anything A felt energized by the unknown and the challenge.


Woman [B] on the other hand, a lifelong perfectionist—beat herself up emotionally for what she didn’t know. She became frustrated and angry with herself that the learning curve was long and hard. She shared that she spoke to herself cruelly and she didn’t know if this path was for her. At times it felt utterly impossible, even painful.


Clearly you can imagine who would be successful in this new venture.


The way Woman B treated herself was non-sustainable. She kept herself small with her lack of self-compassion. She treated the little girl within without patience and loving-kindness. My guess is that this probably had been going on since childhood.


Woman A came from a place of self-compassion.

Woman B had a negative perspective and came from a place devoid of self-compassion.


With self-compassion, we do not judge ourselves harshly or hold ourselves back. So much more is possible… We have the understanding that we are human. We fail sometimes and we rise sometimes, and that is the nature of things.


Lacking self-compassion means kicking ourselves when we fail, suffer, or feel inadequate. In other words, we are kicking ourselves when we are down.


Where do you stand when you encounter pain, shortcomings or failure?


Self-compassion matters the whole ride through and makes us more effective and our lives so much sweeter…And as women leaders, we need to role model this important behavior.



Leave a Comment