As humans, we all have the innate desire to achieve, to progress, and to become better versions of ourselves. And while it may seem contradictory, self-compassion builds perseverance towards achieving our goals.
According to Martin Seligman, the founder of Positive Psychology, achievement is considered to be one of the five fundamental pillars of human happiness because it is one component of the PERMA model (positive emotion, engagement, relationships, meaning, and accomplishments). Achievement is part of how we feel satisfied with our lives; however, the path to achievement is often gruelling and unpleasant, littered with obstacles which can challenge our perseverance and motivation. If we can’t overcome these challenges, we may feel as if we’ve failed, and it can be difficult to bounce back and carry on working towards what we want in our life.
While self-compassion may feel contradictory to perseverance and goal achievement, it does in fact play a powerful role in keeping us motivated. Self-compassion is defined as the thoughts and actions which “show kindness and understanding of ourselves when we are confronted with our personal failings” (Neff, 2015). It is how we relate to ourselves and also how we act when confronted by personal weaknesses. Self-compassion can be developed and can help to keep us working towards our goals, and accepting our failures along the way.
This article will explain the four ways in which self-compassion builds perseverance, so that you can begin to have a better relationship with yourself and in turn improve your goal achievement, perseverance towards the life you want, and also learn to enjoy the process.
Four Ways in which Self-Compassion Builds Perseverance to Achieve Our Goals
1) Self-Compassion Provides a Realistic Self-Assessment of Failures
Self-compassion is an explanatory style. It’s how we communicate with ourselves, and it can be developed. This cognitive retraining can assist us to become more objective when we experience personal failures. Self-criticism is one of the many ways in which we self-sabotage. We believe that if we’re hard on ourselves, we’ll do better in the future. However, the opposite is in fact true. Self-criticism is more destructive than it is helpful. When we employ a more self-accepting perspective of ourselves, much as we do with our loved ones, we can experience a gentler and more accurate assessment of our reality, and in turn, reduce self-criticism. When we’re kind to ourselves and accept our shortcomings, we’re better able to assess and act in more constructive and successful ways in the future.
2) Self-Compassion Helps Us Find More Enjoyment in the Process
Self-criticism doesn’t assist us to grow or help us to develop. All it does is reduce self-esteem and in turn, increase stress and the likelihood of failure in the future. Achievement is deeply ingrained into who we are as humans, and goal attainment is essential for our sense of self-worth and life satisfaction. However, when we self-criticism, we make ourselves suffer, and often the path to achievement has sufficient pitfalls and challenges without us adding fuel to the fire. Cultivating self-compassion can help us to become more grateful for what we have, it can boost our self-esteem, and in turn, help us to achieve our goals while enjoying the process.
3) Self-Compassion Increases Task Performance Under Pressure
Most of the time when we set our minds to a goal we become more disciplined, focused, and driven. However, the downside to this single-focused motivation can lead to increased anxiety and self-induced stress. While stress is helpful to keep us on our toes, when the pressure to achieve our goals becomes too high it affects our performance, increasing mistakes and the potential for errors and failure. Practising self-compassion can help to lower anxiety and self-induced stress, thereby increasing our task performance and the likelihood of our success.
4) Taking a Self-Compassion Break Builds Our Perseverance
Self-care is portrayed as a luxury in the media. We think of it as treating ourselves, and as a reward for our hard work. However, self-compassion is actually an explanatory style that can be used every day to increase our self-acceptance and improve our relationship with ourselves. In turn, when we practise regular self-compassion, we’re better able to identify when we’re tired, burnt out, or need time out. While it may seem contradictory, taking self-care breaks can improve our perseverance in the long run. Achieving big life goals takes endurance, and in order to keep motivated and have the energy to finish the race, we need to make time to rest, restore, and reflect along the way.
In Conclusion: Self-Compassion Builds Perseverance
Achievement is one of the fundamental pillars of our happiness as humans; however, the path to goal attainment can be challenging, tiring, and demotivating. It’s at these moments of low energy or exhaustion that we can employ self-compassion to build perseverance. Practising self-compassion also has many benefits from which self-acceptance, realistic self-assessment, and self-kindness can develop. When we practise self-compassion, we increase our performance and in turn the chances of success despite setbacks and obstacles.
4Seeds is passionate about supporting people on their path to goal attainment through individual and executive coaching. If you’re interested in increasing your self-compassion, if you’re looking for an accountability partner to help keep you moving towards your goals, or if you’re interested in setting goals and achieving them, then get in touch. Contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about our coaching packages and to find out how we can help you to live your best life.