The link between self-compassion and success

When we imagine the mindset we might need to cultivate for success, often we think about discipline, grit or courage, right? We might imagine ourselves working harder, putting ourselves out there more, or maybe pushing through obstacles. And those skills can be beneficial for success, sure. But what’s just as, if not more helpful to you when you want to succeed at anything, is the skill of self-compassion. In fact, there’s a strong link between self-compassion and success.

So what is self-compassion? In simple terms, it’s the process of being kind, encouraging and understanding towards yourself, rather than being harsh and self-critical.

Listen to my latest podcast, or keep reading below, to find out how being self-compassionate not only makes you feel better, but research shows that it’s one of the most important skills to develop on the road to success. I’ll also give you a 7-day mini-challenge to bring more self-compassion into your daily life, so you can try it out for yourself.

Soft is the new strong: How kindness motivates and makes us more resilient

I think intuitively, we already understand the link between compassion and success, when it comes to how we treat other people. For instance, if we are trying to help someone learn a new skill, like say teaching a child to ride a bike, we use compassion instinctively.

When they make a mistake or get discouraged, when they can’t figure it out – how would you typically respond?

Well, you probably offer kind supportive words. right? Things like, “Don’t worry, just keep trying mate and you’ll get it”, or “You are doing great! Let’s try that again.”

If they fall off the bike, a normal part of learning, perhaps you give them a hug to soothe them and then encourage them to jump back on, or try again tomorrow. Reassuring them that if they keep trying they will eventually be able to reach their goal of riding a bike. All they need is a bit of persistence and practice.

Understanding self-compassion and success

But how do you treat yourself when you make mistakes, fail at something, or experience a setback? If you’re like most people, you’re probably a lot tougher on yourself than you are on others.

In fact, it’s in moments like these that we often become our own worst enemy. The inner critic often pipes up, saying “I’m so stupid” or, “I’ll never get this!”.

Or, we start to ruminate about our flaws and shortcomings. Perhaps doubt or unhelpful beliefs come in, such as “I’m not good enough or talented enough for this”, or, “I can’t do this.” Or, “It’s just too hard.”

Now imagine if you were saying this to someone who just fell off the bike…

“You’re too stupid to get this.” Or, “You’re too short.” Or, “You’re just not a bike-riding kind of person.”

It’s a pretty tough environment to get back on the bike, right?!!

Well of course in the same way, when we speak to ourselves in a harsh, critical, and negative way it makes it harder for us to learn from our mistakes, stay motivated to try again, and have the confidence that if we just keep at it, we will achieve our goals.

It should come as no surprise then, that there is a substantial body of research that shows that the skill of self-compassion is closely correlated to three key skills that lead to success. These are:

  1. Resilience
  2. The ability to recognise and learn from our mistakes, and
  3. The ability to keep motivating ourselves to succeed

Building our self-compassion

So how can we use self-compassion to help us learn, grow, and be more effective on our path through life?

Basically, you want to learn to treat yourself with the same kindness, encouragement, and support that you would give to a friend. Shifting the inner critic to become more like an inner coach or supportive friend.

Of course, self-compassion is a skill – so it does require a bit of practice – but it’s well worth the effort to train your mind to hone this skill because it offers such big benefits in terms of the quality of your life.

Your mental strength mini-challenge: 7 days of self-compassion

So your mental strength practice for this week is this. Instead of being hard on yourself when you fail, fall, or feel disappointed, try to meet each setback with curiosity, courage, and self-compassion. When you do that, you’ll be able to dust yourself off, pick yourself up, and try again more quickly.

You’ll also enjoy the ride more and make gains in inner strength and wisdom every step of the way.

So that’s the invitation for practice this week. Practice self-compassion and see what effect it has on your own body and mind, and be attentive to the results in your life. If it’s helpful for you, take it forward as a tool to use for life to help you get mentally stronger day by day, week by week, and year by year.

As always thank you for being here with us in this community of people who are growing together and getting stronger together.

Join me in Headstrong

If you’re finding these practices helpful to your life, and you’re ready to take your mental strength to the next level, I invite you to join me in Headstrong. It’s my 8-week intensive mental strength program. Headstrong offers the best of everything I’ve learned in over two decades of mental strength training and teaching. It’s designed to get rapid transformational results and arm you with powerful tools and skills that will last a lifetime. This program will help you not only survive but thrive – even in tough times.

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