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Episode 16: Self-Compassion Takes Practice [Client Lessons #4]

Happy Monday, everybody! Welcome to today’s episode of The Work Of Becoming podcast which is gonna be all about the idea that self-compassion takes practice. This is the fourth of our six-episode series about lessons I’ve learned from coaching clients. So, today, I ‘m gonna talk about a really amazing coaching client I had, and we’ll call her J.

So, J came to me and came to Alliance Coaching last year because she really wanted to work on having more compassion for herself and for her habits. So, she was the type of person who had all these habits that she wanted to pick up, and when they didn’t go perfectly or when she didn’t get them done, she was really beating herself up about not getting them done and about not following through perfectly.

And it was interesting because when I started to work with J, I noticed that she had already identified that self-compassion was something that she needed. She knew she wanted to be more self-compassionate with herself when it came to those things, but she was doing something that we see a lot in Alliance Coaching which is double judgment, okay? Double judgment happens when you notice you’re judging yourself for one thing and then you’re almost judging the judgment as a layer on top of that.

So, this client, J, she was not being self-compassionate with herself and then she was not being self-compassionate about the fact that she wasn’t being self-compassionate. She kept asking me, “I just don’t understand why I can’t just let this go. I don’t understand why I can’t just be more self-compassionate about this.” And the conversation that we had surrounding this was really enlightening to me and actually inspired several posts that I’ve done since then about the subject. The lesson is this: self-compassion is a skill that has to be strategically developed over time. I’ll say it again. Self-compassion is a skill that can be strategically developed over time. It is not a choice. We don’t just one day wake up and choose to be self-compassionate.

I want to point out that this can be really mind blowing for a lot of people because you’ve probably heard advice, and I’ve seen advice all over the self-improvement or coaching industry where someone’s like, “Five tips for doing X.” And then it’s like, “Tip number one: be more self-compassionate.” And people who are coming to Alliance Coaching are like, “Okay, be more self-compassionate. That’s all fine and dandy, but how the F do I actually do that?” That, to me, is the thing that no one besides us is talking about. What are the actual, tangible tools that you can put in place that help develop that skill of self-compassion?

And so, when I was having this conversation with this client, J, she basically told me, “I never thought of it like that. I always assumed that there was something wrong with me in that I couldn’t be self-compassionate or that my brain was out to get me, and my brain was insistent on beating me up.” I want you to think to yourself right now or raise your little hand if you believe that your brain is working against you — if your brain is mean to you, right? What that actually means is that your brain has developed this mean voice over time, and we need to gently redirect and help it to develop a voice that is more caring and loving and helpful to you rather than something that is so critical.

So, I’m gonna just give two tiny tips to round out this episode of things that we worked on with my client, J, to help her build this self-compassion skill once she realized that it was not a personal flaw, it was just something that she needed to work on, and it was gonna take some time.

So, thing number one is I taught her to identify previous actions and the very good reasons why she took those actions. So, we would look at, “Okay, J skipped her Thursday workout this week. Why did J skip her Thursday workout?” What we would have her do is actually list reasons that were very good reasons that aligned with her values. So, she skipped her workout because she values her coworker, and her coworker asked her to stay a little bit late at work. She skipped her workout because she values her sleep, and since she stayed late at work, she wasn’t gonna have time to workout and still go to bed, and so, she made the decision to prioritize sleep. What this can do is really boost your self-compassion because you’re not beating yourself up for past actions, you’re actually understanding why they are happening.

The second self-compassion tip I have for you really quick before we end this episode is embrace common humanity. Common humanity is a scientific foundation of self-compassion, and it’s the idea that we’re not alone in what we’re experiencing. So, the more you can surround yourself with people who are also working on being self-compassionate, the more you can put yourself in situations where you understand that this is something that can be worked on, the better off that you are going to be and the more you’ll be able to develop that self-compassion skill.

I will tell you, on a personal note, I used to be so self-critical. I can remember so many years where I would beat myself up for every habit I skipped, every time management tool I didn’t implement perfectly, every single time I ate the thing that I didn’t want to be eating, all of it, and it has taken me years, but I have developed a voice in my head that is kind and is caring and directs me towards the result I want without screaming and yelling and saying a bunch of negative things. And that is possible, and there are real interventions out there that I’ve talked about in Change Academy that we frequently offer clients in Alliance Coaching that help you build self-compassion as a skill. So, remove that second layer of judgment, and understand that you’re on a journey to learn to be more self-compassionate, and it’s okay if your growth is slow and incremental.

That’s what I’ve got for you today. I will talk to you in the next episode!

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Hi, I'm Karin

I’m a funfetti flavor super-fan, a loving dog mom, a PhD expert in mindset and behavior change… and I’m here to help make personal development and transformation a process that’s actually fun.

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