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The Power of Self-Compassion: How It Transformed My Personal and Professional Growth

Updated: Mar 22


man under stress working at a desk, rubbing his nose

I used to believe that being hard on myself was the only way I could get things done. Self-pressure had become a catalyst for achievement of any kind.

 

It was like having a figurative ‘foot on my own neck’, keeping pressure on myself was the only source of drive that I knew at the time. And it worked in a lot of different areas, for much of my life. Well that is, until it stopped working. Self-pressure had become a primary source of drive. And it eventually became exhausting.


DRIVE and the voices that fuel it.

 

Although keeping pressure on myself yielded some obvious, tangible benefits, in the quiet times in between all my activity, there just seemed to be 'something' ....missing. Of course, I didn’t admit this out loud. "People had expectations of me", I would think. And I felt inextricably interwoven in a role, or in a part I was playing. I didn’t always enjoy it. But I didn’t know anything different. And the looming question in the back of my mind was, "what would happen if I didn't keep pressure on myself?"

 

I’ll become a useless, ineffective pile of goo”, was one of the familiar thoughts that unknowingly drove my behavior.

 

If I let myself OFF the hook, I won’t get things done. Or I’ll just come to an irreversible stop…..won’t I?”. And the worst one…

 

If I show myself compassion about that hurtful thing I did or that mistake I made, what's going to stop me from doing it AGAIN?”.

 

Without realizing it, these thinking patterns had become an automatic and unconscious part of my life.

 

So although I was working on creating new behavior habits and learning new ways of interacting with people …this self-PRESSURE was making it a far more laborious experience.


image of man in a suit dragging an anchor in the sand

The Experiment


Like a yoke on my neck, self-pressure was WEIGHING ME DOWN. And like a type of ‘resistance’, self-pressure was also unknowingly working AGAINST the very thing I was working toward!. And over time, I started to feel very WEARY.

 

So, I did an experiment. I mean, at this point I figured “why not?“ All those achievements and perks were nice. But once the momentary 'thrill' wore off, I wasn’t feeling that great overall. I was still restless. I had a hard time sitting still. I thought it was ‘just who I was’, because it was all I had yet to experience.

 

So, I tried something that felt a bit 'counter-intuitive' at time: I eased up on myself a little.

 

I allowed myself to have a little self-compassion while … (pay attention here) also adding… additional sources of drive:

 

I started working on a directional VISION of what I really wanted (and it didn't have to be exact) ..while allowing a little more self-compassion.

 

I reconnected to my VALUES or what's most important in my life...while allowing a little more.

 

And I re-engaged with a concept that I had forgotten about, self-discipline or “SELF-DIRECTION” as I like to call it - > that source of drive that doesn’t depend on consistent motivation, vision or values. (including “self-direction” as a source of drive is sort of like investing in ‘bonds’ in addition to ‘stock’ – a more stable and reliable ‘backup plan’ if other sources are inconsistent.)

 

And I did it while allowing… even more self-compassion.

In other words, I slowly took pressure off myself while adding healthier sources of drive. And once I started getting traction, I took a closer look at some of my thought patterns, where they came from, and which ones could stand an update.

 

Surprisingly, I didn’t implode. I didn’t fall back into old behaviors. And I didn’t become a pile of ‘goo’.

 

Unexpectedly, self-compassion started me on a path that resulted in more mental-emotional (and energetic) SPACE -> space to EXPAND on what I was already consistently doing. Go figure.

 

Which meant my inner world work actually grew in DEPTH.


My outer world work grew in QUALITY.


Yes, my pace slowed down in some areas. And that sense of ‘urgency’ decreased. Yet….

 

My work was becoming… FULFILLING. Not just gratifying. Not only satisfying. Fulfilling. And to top it off....my marriage was also improving, becoming more 'safe', skilled and connected. And I was starting to…(do I dare say it?) ..feel 'inspired' about my life. Huh.

 

And I can honestly say that a very large part of all of that was taking that first step of easing up on myself and having self-compassion:


the gentle understanding that as humans, we're always doing the best we can with what we know at any given time. And yes, sometimes we're imperfect, need to apologize and make amends... while moving forward.

 


woman drinking coffee looking out window


So be gentle with yourself.


Self-Compassion is more than just an airy, new-age catch phrase. It's a CATALYST of change that ALLOWS SPACE for expansive and lasting growth to take place.

 

You can do it. Little by little, adding and expanding as you go.

And by the way, you won’t turn into a useless pile of ‘goo’.

 

I'm in your corner,

Jen

 

 If you’d like a refresher on what really matters most to you at this stage of your life, so you can add it as another source of drive? Go take our Core Values class. It's free and comes with a workbook to help you quickly assess your 'signature' values or your guiding principles. I created it for you. So go get it!

 

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The Human Infusion Project is a grassroots, philanthropic personal development platform that draws from the combined fields of modern brain science, applied psychology and spiritual philosophy. Our mission aims to augment and supplement the work of professional practitioners in simplified, practical and affordable ways. 100% of all online class profit funds the Wellness Assistance Grant. If financial constraints limit your participation, please contact me and we'll work something out.









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