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June 26, 2024

Episode 30: The Secret to Personal Growth

In this episode, Sarah and Pam discuss self-compassion, which is the key to accelerating any type of personal growth. Expect to learn what self-compassion actually is, steps to build the practice into your daily life, and actionable tools you can use today.


  • Self-compassion is essential for personal growth and overcoming challenges.
  • Understanding oneself and the reasons behind one’s actions is key to developing self-compassion.
  • Building self-compassion leads to increased self-trust, resilience, and the ability to take risks.
  • Self-compassion improves relationships and creates a psychologically safe environment.
  • Tools for building self-compassion include the Mindful Self-Compassion Break, telling the story of the incident, and practicing both tender and fierce self-compassion.

Links, Corrections, and Whatnot

We mention our episodes about why asking for help is so hard and Unwinding Anxiety

Other Ways to Listen & Subscribe





This transcript was generated by AI so please ignore any weird errors. If there is anything really terrible, let us know.

Pam (00:10)
When I started thinking about our topic today of self -compassion, I initially didn’t think that I had a lot to contribute to the discussion. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that almost every issue that I have worked through, whether it is perfectionism or fear of failure or literally anything, anything that I’ve worked through in the last decade has a component of self -compassion. If not,

being the root, self -compassion being the root of the solution and the problem and kind of it’s all wrapped up in self -compassion. So I’m really excited to dig into this today and to hear your thoughts on it and kind of talk through our experiences with self -compassion and how it has affected our lives and get some advice for people that are listening.

sarah (01:07)
I love it. And to me, it’s like you, it’s been such an integral part of my own journey. It’s such an important part of my daily life. And it’s also something that I really integrate into all the teaching and coaching that I do, because to me, it really goes part and parcel with growth, because I never want…

people to get too hard on themselves with the growth and to become too kind of obsessed with the outcome. So anytime we’re looking to grow or change in a certain area, I think as well we really need to lean into our self -compassion and have them both be happening at the same time for sort of a balanced, sustainable approach.

Pam (01:52)
I agree. I think oftentimes, like you said, we do get too focused on the outcome. And when you get overly focused on an outcome, you end up missing the process and you end up missing, like you don’t get the outcome that you want because you’re so focused on it that you’re missing everything that you actually need to be paying attention to to get to that outcome. Interesting. Okay. So do you want to start with?

sarah (02:00)
Yeah. Yeah.

Yeah. Yeah.

Pam (02:19)
a little bit about like what self -compassion actually is, what we’re talking about.

sarah (02:23)
Sure, absolutely. So a definition, I like this simple definition of self -compassion, which is that it involves treating oneself with kindness, understanding, and acceptance, especially in times of challenge.

So I like that definition and I think it’s important to note that it’s not just a concept or an idea, it’s actually an action that we can take. So it’s not just a philosophy, like I want to be nice to myself in challenging moments, but it’s actually a practice to help me actually indeed be nice to myself during especially difficult moments.

Pam (03:07)
And what were the three components? It was kindness…

sarah (03:12)
Please hold. In this definition, I said kindness, understanding, and acceptance.

Pam (03:12)
In the definition, sorry.

Okay, yeah, so that gives you kind of a formula of how to actually practice self -compassion. So I think I would reverse the order a little bit, which maybe would start with understanding because, at least for me, if I understand myself and why I do things, then it’s a little bit easier for me to have the kindness.

sarah (03:31)

Mm -hmm.

Pam (03:46)
about them. So, you know, I was just mentioning how self -compassion has helped me with perfectionism, which was something that I really started working through with you. So it’s no surprise here that self -compassion was a component of that. But once I understood perfectionism as one of the things that impacts how I act, then I was able to have kindness towards myself in those moments when I started to get wrapped up in

perfectionism or giving myself a hard time about something that was not even an issue, you know, and then with then I can have the acceptance once I go through that like, okay, I understand where this is coming from. And it’s okay. And now I can, you know, understand and accept it. So I like that kind of formula of these are literally the steps that you take to have self compassion.

sarah (04:39)

Yeah, and in terms of steps, like what I like in terms of a step by step process for how to actually action that self compassion. I think you’re right. It does begin with that understanding piece or that mindful awareness piece of what is what exactly is happening in the happening to you what the what the emotion is the challenging emotion and then.

And then, actually, I don’t know, should we go through the process first or should we talk more about our relationships and then go our relationship with self -compassion and then explain like the mindful self -compassion practice?

Pam (05:27)
We could go either way. You’ve got the steps later, but…

sarah (05:32)
Yeah, yeah, why don’t I why don’t I wait on the steps because I don’t want to get too into it before we talk about sort of why it’s important.

Pam (05:36)
Okay, okay.

Okay, so has self -compassion always been something that came naturally to you and that you practiced, or has this been something that you have built this muscle?

sarah (05:52)
Yeah, great question. Definitely no. It hasn’t been something that came naturally to me. It was introduced to me by a previous colleague of mine and friend and she told me about it and I didn’t think much of it. It sort of sounded generic. Honestly, it sounded generic like.

What does that even mean? And she explained that for her as a woman, a fellow woman, she thought it was the most important sort of personal development experience that she ever had. And like me, she had gone through coaches training. She was very self aware person. And so she mentioned that to me and I became intrigued. I read a little bit about it. I read Kristin Neff’s book. So Kristin Neff is really the,

brain like the brains behind this movement. She really founded the self compassion movement and has a lot of literature and a lot of amazing resources. So I read her book and I became intrigued and then I took a program. It was called mindful self compassion.

And it was a six week live program where we learned about the concepts about self compassion. We learned how to integrate it into a mindfulness practice and how to become more compassionate with ourselves. And really my mind was blown because I realized that no, I wasn’t compassionate with myself. I thought that I was compassionate with myself, but I realized that I wasn’t. I was super hard on myself.

Whenever I made a mistake, I would feel super hard on myself. I beat myself up about it. I feel super guilty. And I don’t think I would have called myself a perfectionist, but that was my method of perfectionism.

And then when I took this program, I realized, this is because, you know, society has really trained me to be this way. Or that’s how I, you know, that’s how I was socialized. That’s how I internalized it myself that I thought I had to be make everyone happy, never make any mistakes, never hurt anybody’s feelings, and just kind of do things right all the time. And the self compassion training made me realize this is a construct. It’s not healthy. And it’s not possible. In fact,

mistakes are normal. And so now when I do make a mistake or when I witness others make mistakes, I can frame it as, this is just a normal human mistake. It’s part of what makes me a human being.

And that doesn’t mean I’m not going to make repairs. It doesn’t mean I’m not going to try to fix it. It doesn’t mean I’m not going to try to do good in the world. I am always, but at the same time, I don’t have to beat myself up when I fall short of my ideals, which is really a part of being alive. And so to me, that was just a mind blowing concept. And such a huge shift is not that now I’m compassionate every minute of every day, but I’m far more self compassionate.

and I’m a huge advocate for it for my kids and for my clients, for everyone really. I just think, I really do think it’s a game changer.

Pam (09:11)
Yeah, so like this we’re going to make mistakes that is the nature of being a human so you can either beat yourself up about it and feel terrible and you know, just make it and you know anxiety ridden and stressful or you can be like, hey, yep, I made a mistake. And if I can’t, I’m going to learn from it. If I need to, I’m going to apologize or repair, you know, what has been done from that.

sarah (09:19)

Pam (09:41)
mistake or if I don’t need to do anything, if it was just a harmless mistake, I can let that go and the end result is the same. You know, you make a mistake and you have to deal with it, but you can either be miserable while you do that and hate yourself for it or have this self -compassion and it’s a better experience for everyone.

sarah (10:08)
Yeah, so what about you? Like, I know for me, it’s my self compassion is radically changed, as I was saying, especially over the last decade. What about you? Do you have a similar trajectory? Or how has it evolved for you?

Pam (10:25)
Yeah, so I don’t think that I had any, like singular experience other than working with you in coaching that, you know, made me even recognize self compassion. I don’t know if you even used that phrase with me. But you worked with me on, I guess on accepting that I can make mistakes and that that’s okay. And that, you know, I’m not gonna die because I had a typo in an email or something like that.

because that really was a big source of my anxiety, especially around work. I was constantly afraid that I was gonna make a mistake or that I dropped the ball on something or if I sent an email with a mistake in it, I would really get worked up about that. And I know in working with you, you were like, okay, and? What would happen if…

sarah (11:16)
Yeah, yeah, for sure. And I so relate to it, but it’s so true and.

Pam (11:22)
Yeah, yeah. So, you know, it’s this idea that, you know, no one is paying as much attention to your mistakes as you are. And I think part of this is just getting older, like in your teens and 20s, it feels like everyone is watching every little thing that you do. And then once you get into your 40s, you just kind of don’t have the energy to care anymore.

sarah (11:47)
It’s true and I think the myth has been busted that like nobody really knows what they’re doing. Nobody’s doing it perfectly. Everybody’s figuring it out on the fly and everyone is making mistakes and dropping the ball all the time. Constantly. Then I realized that and I realized, I do have a lot of integrity as a person. I really do try my best.

Pam (12:01)
Constantly, yes.

sarah (12:10)
And in the process of being awake and alive, how fortunate for me that I get to be awake and alive and making it through the day in 24 hours, I am going to make a handful of mistakes. There’s no way around it. Yeah, so I think the myth has been busted that it’s exactly now that I’m in my mid 40s, like it doesn’t exist any other way.

Pam (12:22)

Yeah. And I think, you know, you can start with a little bit of self -compassion and, you know, work on, you know, what is impacting you in the biggest way. And then it starts to make its way into the rest of your life. So that’s been my experience that, you know, working through that, like accepting that I can make mistakes and that that’s okay and that it’s not going to be the end of the world. That then kind of…

seeped into other areas in my life. And what I really started doing was kind of laughing at myself a little bit, you know, like if I did do something silly or like, I think a big part of this is,

that it’s almost like there’s a difference between the person that you think that you are or that you wish that you were and the person that you actually are because you’re human. Like there’s this like idealized version of yourself, at least for me, that I have in my head of like, I’m the person that can do everything and I’ve got it all together and I’m not gonna make mistakes and whatever. And then, Perfect Pam, right. And then there’s reality.

sarah (13:39)
Perfect Pam.

Pam (13:44)
And being able to laugh at reality, you know, like when I burn dinner or, you know, forget something that I shouldn’t have forgotten or, you know, say something that I wish that I hadn’t said, like all those things, rather than making it a big deal and like being myself up, I laugh at it now and I’m like, yeah, well, oops, you know, and that being able to…

kind of like name it and laugh at it and then share in laughing with someone else. Like, look at this stupid thing that I did. It takes the power away from it and makes it more of like a, almost like a bonding thing if you’re sharing it with someone else, because then they can be like, my God, I did the same thing last week.

sarah (14:30)
Okay, so my question is in the moment that that’s happening, can you recognize that you’re giving yourself an easier time than you may have done in the past? Like, can you recognize, this is a moment where I’m giving myself compassion? Yeah.

Pam (14:42)
I can now for sure. Yeah, if I reflect on it, I can definitely see. I mean, life’s way easier now with this layer of stress removed of that constant not wanting to screw anything up or if I do screw something up, then feeling terrible about it for hours afterwards. Now it’s a much faster process. There’s still that feeling.

of like, oh my God, I just sent a stupid email that I shouldn’t have sent or I did something wrong. You still have that, but the recovery is faster.

sarah (15:14)
Yeah, it’s the recovery. Yeah, yeah, I like what you’re saying. So I relate and like what I can now so my mindfulness around it is heightened. So I’ll still have the feel the feeling if I make a mistake. I’ll still have that feeling like I’ll feel it in my stomach, my stomach will sink. I’ll feel anxious. I’ll feel a little bit ill.

Pam (15:35)
I can feel that as you’re talking about it.

sarah (15:37)
yeah, this was this was a while ago I I mean it was an administrative mistake which You know doesn’t happen to me infrequently So was an administrative mistake, but it may have had an impact on a client that I was working with Not irreparable, but the ripple effect would have not just been for me So I found out about this on a Friday and I felt sick

Pam (15:48)

sarah (16:05)
I felt like just head to toe. my gosh, I cuz I hadn’t renewed something on time right ahead So I felt totally sick about it and I thought gosh, I can’t the office isn’t gonna be open until Monday So now I’m gonna have to feel sick about it all weekend and worry about and go to the worst -case scenario about it all weekend, right? and in that moment, I’m like, okay, I can suffer all weekend and catastrophize or

Pam (16:26)

sarah (16:35)
I can put some calls out right now, send the emails, email to the office, email a couple people, email one of my mentors who might have some insight, try to do some self coaching and choose to forgive myself faster for it.

And really what I said to myself in that moment was I’m going to practice giving myself a break for this. I’m going to practice forgiving myself really fast for making a very normal human mistake.

and I’m going to practice, I’m going to practice, I’m going to practice. And it did. And then I saw it as an act of building that muscle, right? Because it’s not like, I was compassionate right away. No, my first instinct was I felt horrible and I was so annoyed with myself. And then I was like, wait a minute, you know another way.

you know that it’s normal to make mistakes and you didn’t want to do this. And you know that you can practice letting it go easier. And I was able to like, it’s not that I never thought about it all weekend, but every time I did, I was like, no practice letting it go, practice letting it go, practice, self compassion. The world and society makes you want to think that you have to be perfect. That’s bullshit. Let it go, let it go. Like I really was talking myself through that. And I was able to let it go a lot more than I would have in the past way more.

than I would have in the past.

Pam (18:01)
as you’re giving that example, I’m thinking about what I would feel in that situation. And I think a lot of what comes up for me is it’s not the mistake or even like having to fix the mistake. It’s, now this person thinks I’m incompetent. And so it’s almost like this self -flagellation for making mistakes is a survival mechanism.

of like, I have to prove that I’m competent so that I’m of value to people so that I am accepted and so I can survive because that’s how our brains evolved, right? Is we have to be of value.

sarah (18:37)
Yes, yes. Yeah, so I can belong and be wanted. Yeah, ultimately it’s that fear of rejection. Yeah, for not being competent enough.

Pam (18:47)


So we have to in those situations just be like, yes, I made a mistake and I’ve done everything that I can right now to repair it and I’m gonna live through this. They are not gonna think that I’m a completely incompetent loser and never wanna work with me again. And that worst case scenario place that you go to in your head of like.

sarah (19:20)

Pam (19:23)
I made this mistake with this client. So now I’m never going to have a client again. And I’m going to have to go work at the gas station because my business is done. Like you have to, yeah, you have to be able to use mindfulness again. Mindfulness is always something that we go back to, but like be able to be really present in the moment and be like, is this what I think it is?

sarah (19:29)
Yeah. Yeah.

Yeah, for sure, for sure. And then I think there’s also the other piece, even if then the client does think you’re incompetent, knowing that that will be painful and through self compassion, I can actually experience that and come out the other side.

Pam (20:03)

sarah (20:04)
Right, even if someone is mad, even if I do hurt someone unintentionally, right? Self -compassion, it’s not that it’ll make all everything go away, but it really will help in the process. It really, really will help. So then you can become, I think, less fearful of those painful scenarios because you have a tool to navigate them.

Pam (20:31)
I happened to get a newsletter this weekend from the author Michael Easter. And the newsletter was about living authentically, but really everything that he said in it was about self -compassion. And he quoted a study where they said, “self -awareness involves knowledge and acceptance of one’s multifaceted and potentially contradictory self -aspects, i .e. being both introverted and extroverted, as opposed to rigid acknowledgement.

and acceptance of only those aspects deemed internally consistent with one’s overall self -concept”. So in other words, you have to accept all parts of yourself, even the ones you don’t like or wish were different, to live fully as you. You can still work to change and improve, but hating or hiding parts of yourself doesn’t allow you to show up fully in your life.

So when we are trying to pretend like we don’t make mistakes or when we beat ourselves up constantly for making little mistakes rather than doing that recovery and being like, okay, yep, I screwed up and here’s how I’m gonna improve or that was dumb, let’s laugh about it, just whatever that recovery is. If you’re just putting up a wall to the mistakes and shutting down the acceptance that they happen.

you’re really shutting down an entire part of who you are and not showing up fully and authentically as yourself because it’s impossible for you to not have that side.

sarah (22:06)
Yeah, for sure. And that also blocks connection. Right? Like we don’t, I mean, we know this kind of intellectually, but yet it’s something that’s really hard for us to remember in daily life that nobody wants to be friends with slash learn from slash work with some quote unquote perfect and flawless person.

Pam (22:12)


sarah (22:36)
it’s not real. And then and then we’d feel like a bozo because everyone else is like, well, I’m flawed and imperfect. Why would I want to be with someone who’s figured out every single one of their flaws and is perfect, right? It’s just… so we kind of know that. And then in daily life, we can forget it and be like, well, I better be perfect in this moment.

Pam (22:51)

Yeah. Yeah. The connection part is really important. I know I never liked asking for help. I’m not that type of person. I was always like, I can figure it out. I can do this. You know, no matter how hard it was, I would like push through it and do it myself. But being able to like own my weaknesses or, you know, flaws, if you want to call them that, whatever it is, being able to say like, hey, I’m not good at this. I need help. That creates connection and it makes…

things easier for me because things get done by someone who knows how to do them or I learn how to do them through getting their assistance. But that’s another thing that creates connection through this acceptance and just admitting like, hey, I need a little bit of help.

sarah (23:46)
Yeah, and on that note, by the way, this week I made appointments with two different coaches for next week for areas that I need help with. Yeah, and I’m just like, my gosh, and I just, as soon as I pressed like meeting request, I felt like this is right to reach out whether these particular relationships work out just to what you’re saying, like.

I need help and it can be something that I know intellectually I would tell everyone, yeah, go for the help you need. But to actually follow through with the ask sometimes can be challenging, but worth it.

Pam (24:25)
Yeah, I mean, we did an entire episode on why it’s so hard to ask for help, even when you know you need it.

sarah (24:29)
Yes, yes, and apparently still it’s a theme.

Pam (24:34)
Because you’re not perfect.

sarah (24:35)
I’m not perfect and I have compassion for myself. I do.

Pam (24:41)
I mean, and that’s another piece of compassion that I think has really benefited me is understanding that everyone is good at something and no one is good at everything. Like, you can’t be good at everything, but you’re good at something, so that’s something. Like, celebrate what your strengths are.

sarah (24:58)
Celebrate that. Yes. Yes.

Pam (25:06)
Okay, so what other benefits are there to building this self -compassion muscle other than everything that we’ve just talked about about how it really does make life feel easier and it makes you happier, it makes you have better connection with other people when you admit your mistakes and reach out for help and do repair, it builds inner peace, it…

is more fulfilling, what are some of the other benefits that people can get?

sarah (25:37)
Well, I think if we really hone in on the fact that, okay, once you develop your ability to be more compassionate with yourself, that will lead to more self -trust. Because it means that you’re gonna trust yourself to recover more easily from something. So if you believe that you can recover from something, you’re gonna feel more willing to take a risk. Right? And an unwilling…

Pam (25:50)
Mm -hmm.


sarah (26:07)
Unwillingness or fear of taking risks is something that I see very frequently. It’s one of the bigger challenges that many of my clients have. It’s like they’ve reached a certain level. They really are longing for something more, but that involves taking risks. So if you have developed your ability to be self, to be more compassionate with yourself, you’re more willing to take that risk because you’re like, okay, well if it works, great, I can celebrate. If it doesn’t work, I know I can recover. So it, and I’ll,

still learn from it. So really it’s a win -win. It doesn’t become like I’m only gonna it’s only a win if I succeed. Right? And that to me underscores the difference between self -compassion and self -esteem. Self -esteem is tied to well I feel good about myself when I succeed.

Pam (26:45)

sarah (26:56)
And then that becomes often a zero -sum game, like comparing myself to somebody else, because it’s on a scale. How am I doing next to everyone else in my field or next to everybody else on my department, whether it’s conscious or unconscious? But if your self -esteem is tied to success, generally, if we’re using those metrics of success, there’s a winner and a loser, and then a scale. And then how do you fare? And that’s just not a good…

Pam (27:10)

sarah (27:26)
It’s not necessarily a healthy metric. It’s how our society often works. But it’s not a healthy metric, too. It’s not sustainable because then you always have to keep winning in order to feel good about yourself, right? So that’s, to me, what self -esteem is around like, you know, just think about all the great things you’ve done and feel good about those. But the fact is, like, we’re not going to do great all the time. We’re not going to win all the time. And so how can we feel good about ourselves, whether, you know, whether we’re

whether we’ve knocked it out of the park or whether we haven’t. So going back to your original question, if we develop our self -compassion, we know we can love ourselves, whether our risk has proven given the result we want or whether it hasn’t. And so then we can take the risk more often, knowing that we’re going to be OK.

Pam (28:19)
Yeah, I’m imagining a practice where people think of, you know, five or 10 quote unquote failures and what they learned from them, like risks I took, things that I tried that I was not successful at. And here’s the positive outcome from it.

sarah (28:37)
Mm -hmm. Yeah, 100%. 100%.

Pam (28:39)
Yeah. Okay, so you can take more risks, kind of become more resilient because you know that you can try new things, you can expand your horizons. And even if you aren’t successful by the original metric that you set out with, you can get something out of every experience. And even if you have a setback, you can recover more quickly because you’ve built this ability.

sarah (28:44)
Mm -hmm.

100%. And I think that’s also tied to leadership development. Extensive research shows that the best leaders, the ones that people actually want to work for, work with, learn from, are those that can convey empathy.

Nobody wants a tuned out, dissonant leader. Everyone wants a leader who’s self -aware and who can demonstrate empathy and shower them with empathy, shower their teams with empathy. And I think part of creating that psychologically safe environment is also knowing that as a leader, this person also has demonstrated this kind of self -compassion.

and is able to make mistakes and then recover and not give themselves a really hard time. Because if they see their leader giving themselves a hard time berating themselves for mistakes, how is anyone on their team going to feel comfortable or safe taking risks or making any kinds of mistakes?

Pam (30:09)
Yeah, I definitely know that as I become more compassionate towards myself, I’m more compassionate towards others as well. I’m not nearly as judgmental as I used to be. I don’t, you know, criticize other people as much as I used to. And that comes from the way I talked to myself was also the way that I thought about other people. And so since I changed the…

constant internal monologue, then that changes how I approach other people as well.

sarah (30:44)
That’s super interesting that you say that and I want to build on that because it matches with the research which shows that people can still be mean to themselves. So have no self -compassion and be nice to others. So there’s and I mean, right… I’m sure you know lots of people like that who were super mean to themselves but super compassionate. They treat their best friends amazing, baking pies for everyone, making time for everyone but for themselves, they give themselves a hard time.

Pam (30:51)


sarah (31:12)
So that can exist, but research does show that once we start being nicer to ourselves, it has a ripple effect.

and that compassion extends to others. So folks might think, well, if I’m really nice to myself, that’s so selfish and I need to be really hard on myself so that I can be a better person in order to make them be better for other people. But no, it’s the opposite. Be nice to yourself, be really kind to yourself, and you’re actually going to be better, treat other people in your life better, and it’s gonna have a much better impact.

Pam (31:48)
That is related to something else that you hear a lot or I hear a lot, which is people think that they have to be really hard on themselves or have a certain level of anxiety to achieve things. Like in order to be successful and to achieve all the goals that I have, I have to be hard on myself. I have to beat myself up. I have to have some ridiculous schedule where I’m producing unbelievable levels. And if I let up on that at all, I won’t be successful.

it’s the same story, which is that, you know, in reality, you’re being counterproductive by being so hard on yourself. And by living with this constant level of anxiety, you’re actually not as productive as you would be if you gave yourself some of that self compassion, and you set reasonable goals for yourself, and you gave yourself the mental space to be creative and to

think things through, you know, without that anxiety and without that stress.

sarah (32:53)
Yeah, totally. Well, think about how exhausting it is to kind of roll yourself over the coals for making a mistake, night after night, reliving it, thinking about it. It’s a huge waste of energy.

Pam (33:13)
yeah, I used to wake up in the middle of the night thinking about some mistake that I’d made a week ago or something stupid that I said, you know? And it’s like, then you lay there for an hour thinking about it and then you’re tired the next day and it didn’t do any good.

sarah (33:24)
For sure. For sure. For sure. And not only that, we can think about mistakes we made years ago. The world has moved on.

Pam (33:30)
I see. Yeah, still do. Yeah. No one else remembers that.

sarah (33:35)
Yeah, exactly. So it’s a huge energy waste. So in and in fact, it’s that is more self… what’s the word, not selfish, but like self. You go your self -absorbed. Thank you. That’s a good word. That’s more self -absorbed than just, you know, being compassionate with yourself processing. If you’ve made a mess, clean up your mess. Now move on.

Pam (33:40)

like absorbed.

sarah (34:01)
that’s actually more generous because then you have more productive energy to give the world instead of just wallowing in your error for years.

Pam (34:12)
Okay, so what are some tools that people can use to build this self -compassion muscle?

sarah (34:17)
Great, well I’m gonna start with a classic tool and this is called the Mindful Self -Compassion Break. And it was developed by Kristin Neff. And if you go on the internet, you can find many, many different recordings of meditations or talks that feature this process.

So what I’ll do is I’ll just break down the three pieces to a mindful self -compassion break. And this is something that you can do guided, as I said, or you can just walk yourself through in a moment where you’re feeling stressed. So the first step is mindful awareness. And in this step, you’re noticing the emotion and the physical sensation in your body that you’re having.

So you’re identifying what the uncomfortable feeling is and naming it neutral, right? For example, this feeling is stress or this feeling is embarrassment. That’s a really tough one.

Pam (35:25)
And when you said neutral, so you’re not saying I am embarrassed. You’re saying this feeling is embarrassment. So you’re disconnected from it.

sarah (35:30)
This feeling is yeah. Yeah, this is what I’m feeling. Yeah, you’re noticing the feeling and you’re naming it with mindful awareness. This is feeling embarrassed or this feeling is anger. Right? So you’re right now you’re picking an emotion that tends to feel uncomfortable to feel that sometimes we want to like push away. So anger, sadness, disappointment, frustration, embarrassment.

Pam (35:51)
Mm -hmm.

sarah (35:56)
et cetera. So you name the feeling. So that’s the mindful awareness and you just, you just sit and noticing it for a moment. Now this, so that’s step one. Step number two, I love so very much. Step number two is reminding yourself that this emotion that you’re feeling is part of being human and you’re not alone. So there are different phrases that you can say to yourself.

in this sort of shared first step number two, it might sound something like, all humans feel this way sometimes. Or this emotion is part of a human experience. I’m not alone. I know others are feeling the same way right in this moment. Or I know others have felt this way at other times.

Okay, so step number one, you identify the feeling. Step number two, you remember your shared humanity that is part of shared human experience. And then step number three is sending some, so this is an internal process, sending yourself some compassion. So how may I be kind to myself in this moment? Or how can I love myself in this moment? How can I give myself some compassion in this moment?

And then you can energetically send care and compassion to that, to yourself, to maybe to the part of your body where you feel it, et cetera. And then I think after that too, it doesn’t have to be passive. You might say, okay, well, what can I do that would be kind to myself? Well, do I want to reach out to a friend? Do I wanna go for a nice walk? Do I wanna go buy myself some flowers? Do I wanna go talk to my sister or whatever it is, right?

so then you can think about what else would be a kind or compassionate thing to do for yourself. But those are the three steps. Mindful awareness of the emotion, reminding yourself that this is part of the human experience, that you’re not alone, that all humans feel this way, and then finally choosing consciously to be compassionate with yourself.

Pam (38:06)
And these three steps, it’s not like you do them and magically the feeling goes away. It’s an interrupt so that you don’t get stuck in that rumination over the mistake and beating yourself up and spending the next three hours feeling terrible about this thing that you did. It takes you out of it so that you can get a more conscious pattern, like a decision of like,

rather than just being swept away by this feeling, you’re stepping in, you’re saying, hey, like, hold on, let’s think about this for a second. And you’re just interrupting that pattern.

sarah (38:43)
Yeah, that’s a great way to say I think you’re interrupting the pattern and you’re also giving yourself another option of another way to deal with it like another way to have a relationship with it. So it’s like if this is this well -worn path, it’s like well, well, here’s another way. And I do believe that, you know, with time and repetition, like all things.

Pam (38:56)

sarah (39:08)
This path is well worn. If the first path is really well worn, then that might be a really easy place to go to. But this more compassionate way, just like I, you know, start myself with that work scenario, was like, okay, like, I think I can do this. Like, I think I know this now. Right? So it wasn’t my go to, but there was some familiarity with it. So it can, you can really strengthen that, strengthen that as an option.

Pam (39:34)
Yeah, and it’s reminding me of our episode on the book, Unwinding Anxiety, because it’s kind of the same thing where it’s a habit to make a mistake and then beat yourself up about it. And you have to change that habit. So the habit becomes self -compassion.

sarah (39:39)

Have you done that practice before, like in those steps?

Pam (39:57)
No, those three steps are new to me. I don’t think I’ve ever had an actual practice like that of how to deal with it. It just kind of happened more organically that I knew I had to step in and stop myself. And then once I was able to do that, it started to become more of a habit, but I had never had it broken out like that. It might’ve been a little bit easier to build the habit. I’m not gonna make another mistake.

sarah (40:19)
Well, you can you can try it next time you make a mistake.

You’re done.

Pam (40:29)
I’m done. Okay. Any other practices that you have for people?

sarah (40:38)
I think so that would be my my primary one to start with. And the other piece that I want to add to it is the idea that sometimes self compassion is about that internal process. Sometimes that’s called tender self compassion. Right now I’m I’m really leaning into the work of Kristin Neff, by the way, when I’m using these terms, because she speaks of that tender self compassion where you’re really,

internally sending yourself that grace and that kindness. And then she distinguishes that from what she calls fierce self -compassion. And that’s when you’re using that awareness, the mindful awareness, the shared humanity, but with the shared humanity,

she calls fierce compassion, you’re thinking it can be like an emotion that’s triggering you to take action in service of your values. So it’s not only just the self -serving, well, self -serving ultimately for the purpose of being good in the world, doing good work, but you can use this fierce self -compassion as a means of…

actively being compassionate towards others. So maybe your emotion is you’re noticing something in the world that makes you angry because you see this as a violation of somebody’s rights. So you can take in the emotion, wow, I feel sad or I feel angry right now. I feel furious that this is happening. And then you can use that as, wow, this is part of my…

humanity to want to make a difference, to want to step in. And then the compassion part can actually be an action where you’re taking some kind of fierce action. So it’s not just an internal process, but you’re going out there and taking a stand in the world, whatever that looks like in service of being, you know, being compassionate, but taking action on your values.

Pam (42:43)
A practice that I would add is telling the story of the mistake. So whether that is telling a friend or journaling, I find that once I try to explain what happened or tell the story of it, often I realized that it was inconsequential and…

sarah (42:45)

Pam (43:02)
that it doesn’t have the power that I was giving it in my head. And trying to put words to something… as soon as you try and do that and you’re like, okay, actually now I hear it. Like as I’m hearing myself tell this, it was really not as important as I thought. So it’s much easier for me to give myself that self -compassion and let the mistake go when I tell the story.

sarah (43:22)
I love it. Get it out of the narrative in your head and into words in the world. Such a good technique. Yeah. Call a friend.

Pam (43:27)
Yeah. Yep.

Yeah, so call a friend.


Do we have anything else to add?

Okay, so next time you find yourself making a mistake or, you know, beating yourself up over something, use those steps of kindness, understanding and acceptance. Give yourself that self -compassion break with mindfulness and naming the feeling and then giving yourself some self -compassion. Phone a friend.

write your feelings down, whatever you need to do to put it to words and get it out of your head and give yourself a break because whatever you’re trying to do, whatever is important to you in your life, it’s not avoiding mistakes. The important things are enjoying your life, enjoying your people, enjoying whatever is important to you and mistakes are going to happen. And the more time you spend

beating yourself up about them, the less time that you’re spending on the things that are important.

sarah (44:41)
I love it. Don’t let society win telling you you have to do everything perfect.


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