Failure often results in feeling guilt or shame, especially when you’re a high achiever who is used to succeeding. But failing and falling short is an inevitable fact of life. And if you aren’t ever failing, you probably aren’t pushing yourself.
The most successful leaders hold themselves to high standards but employ serious self-compassion strategies when they don’t hit the mark. This means you might have a bad day, but you know how to bounce back. Bumps in the road won’t knock you off track and coming up short isn’t the end of the world.
Self-compassion isn’t about being weak or lowering your standards – it’s a powerful leadership skill that will help you achieve more (and experience more joy) in the long run. While having a bad day and feeling down is a part of life, it’s important to implement tools that help us practice being kind to ourselves and increase our self-compassion.
The first step to developing self-compassion is noticing your emotional state. When you find yourself feeling guilt or shame, pause and recognize the truth about how you feel.
Instead of reacting to your feelings of guilt and shame – this is often when we lash out at others because we want someone to blame – take a breath and consider some of the following questions.
What do I need?
Maybe you need space, time to process, a breath of fresh air, or some music to take the edge off. Or maybe you need something more complex – support with a big project, a change in responsibilities, or a discussion with a team member. Be open to the answers that pop up. You know yourself better than you may think.
How do I care for myself already?
When you feel like “a total failure,” it’s easy to let that inner critic take over. Take a minute to run through all the ways you already care for yourself. You make time to move your body each day, you prioritize spending time with your kids when you get home from the office, you read before bed instead of watching TV, you get regular facials… the list goes on and on.
Remind yourself of all the great things you do for yourself every day because you know you’re worth it.
What would I say to a friend in a situation like this?
We’re much kinder to others than we are to ourselves when we experience guilt and shame. Imagine a friend is in your situation. How would you help them see the truth of the situation? What would you say to help them feel better? Try saying those same things to yourself!
Beating yourself up or engaging in pervasive negative self-talk is ultimately detrimental to your health, performance, and self-esteem. Try being kind to yourself instead! Here are some easy ways to be kinder to yourself starting today.
Let Go of Perfectionism
If your measure of "perfect" is based on being all things to all people at all times, you’ll always fall short. Evaluate whether your own standards are realistic. Can you ease up on any self-imposed pressures?
Give Yourself Recognition
We are quick to acknowledge the achievements of others but slow to acknowledge our own. Become aware of your own achievements and give yourself recognition. Praise yourself and relish the moment. Talk to yourself the way you would to an employee or friend who just succeeded or met a big goal.
Do a Reality Check
Before beating yourself up and thinking of all the ways you’ve let others down… just stop. Do a reality check. On certain days your efforts might not seem good enough for others. You aren’t falling short – their expectations may not be reasonable.