Managing Self

A self-compassionate route to deeply meaningful success

Written by Milisa Burns

I have something counter-intuitive to share with you that I think is very important to know when working towards being an AWAL (attorney with a life).   Many high-achievers (myself included, until relatively recently) tend to think that the best way to accomplish things is to drive through, work really hard and throw in a good dose of self-criticism and judgment along the way. Sure that’s one approach, but we all know that there are big pitfalls in it – large potholes – such as burnout, insecurity, frayed relationships and so on. But, research shows that people who are more self-compassionate are more productive and more likely to reach their potential. And, they are feeling better about themselves and others while they are getting there. Doesn’t this sound like a much more enjoyable journey? It also sounds more like an AWAL sort of journey to me – one that is en route to deeply meaningful success.

Now, you may still think that you don’t have time to be self-compassionate – that it is too self-indulgent.  You may think that if you are self-compassionate you will lose your drive to succeed. I know it’s counter-intuitive, but the research is there to show you are likely wrong. If you are here on this AWAL blog site, I bet you are willing to read on and explore this further….

Much of the research I am referring to is laid out in Self-Compassion: Stop Beating Yourself Up and Leave Insecurity Behind, by Kristin Neff.

Here’s a brief explanation of what self-compassion is, as defined by Kristin Neff. It has three-core components:

  • Self-kindness – we are gentle and understanding with ourselves rather than harshly critical or judgmental
  • Common humanity – we allow ourselves to feel connected with others in the experience of life rather than feeling isolated and alienated by our suffering
  • Mindfulness – we hold our experience in balanced awareness, rather than ignoring our pain or exaggerating it

We must achieve and combine these three essential elements in order to be truly self-compassionate (p. 41).

In a deeply personal and very practical way, Kristin Neff walks us through these components and shows us how we can make them work for us.   It is a very readable, actionable book.

Here’s one action you could take as a result of reading this post. Go on over Kristin Neff’s site and try one of her self-compassion practices. There is one called “self-compassion break” that is only 5 minutes long, for example. (Do also read her short tips for practice piece as well – I know that makes it two actions – consider this is a sub-action).

In my next post I want to show you how growth mindset, which I blogged about last month on this site, and self-compassion are connected – it is a powerful formula for deeply meaningful success! Stay tuned!

About the author

Milisa Burns

I practiced law for 6 years, and was an at-home parent, before founding Strategic Evolution Coaching & Consulting, in 2006. Through my “Making Room For You” programs, I boldly and tenderly support professional women as they create success for themselves, on their terms. My clients are very "successful", but inside they may initially be very stressed, full of questions, possibly bored and no longer fulfilled. They are yearning for more. My clients are amazed at how quickly they create peace and contentment while achieving at even higher levels than they previously imagined. I have 3 children and am married to my law school sweetheart.

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