By Mary Linda McBride
It’s already been a long week and you get some version of THE CALL…
The donor you were counting on has decided that she is not ready to entertain your “ask”.
The grant maker chose to invest in a different project.
Your best volunteer just resigned.
You might wonder, Is it me?
It happens to all of us. But if there is any critical skill you might be lacking in these moments, it’s most likely self-compassion.
Self-compassion is treating yourself with kindness, the way you would treat a good friend. Far from being self-indulgent or lowering motivation (common myths), self-compassion is an evidence-based way to create a positive impact on your mental and emotional well-being. It can also make you a better at your job. Research shows that those with greater self-compassion:
- Are more proactive and procrastinate less.
- Bounce back from setbacks with more ease and resilience.
- Are more willing to seek support.
- Experience less anxiety and an increased sense of well-being.
- Have greater perspective, empathy, altruism, and compassion for humanity.
As you consider adding to your skillset, start with this gamechanger – the skill of self-compassion.
Here’s how to start to practice according to Kristen Neff, researcher at the University of Texas at Austin and author of Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself.
- Practice Self-Kindness vs. Self-Judgment: Recognize that you are struggling and speak to yourself in a way that is kind. Pay attention to the voice in your head and make sure that what you say to yourself is what you would say to someone else who was having a hard time. You know how to do that. You do it all the time for other people.
- Recognize the Common Humanity in the Situation vs. Feeling Isolated. If you lost out on a grant, for example, it wasn’t just you. There were likely dozens (if not hundreds) of other worthy proposals that weren’t funded. In any given moment, whether in your personal and professional life, there are many other people experiencing what you are experiencing. That fact doesn’t negate the difficulty, but it does help keep a sense of perspective and trust that you will weather this common human experience.
- Take a mindful approach vs over-identifying with the situation. Mindfulness fosters a non-judgmental, receptive stance in which you can observe thoughts and feelings. You cannot ignore difficult feelings and feel compassion for them at the same time. However, through mindfulness you can practice not “over-identifying” with those thoughts and feelings. Mindfulness can help create a space between you and the situation you happen to be in at the moment. As some wise person once said…it’s helpful not to believe everything you think.
If you are interested in learning more about the benefits of self-compassion and specific ways to practice, check out Dr. Neff’s website.
And for today, make sure you do something nice for yourself.
Mary Linda McBride is a Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction teacher, speaker, and workshop facilitator. She spent 20 years as a nonprofit fundraiser and served as an adjunct faculty member at NC State University.