To Recover from Failure, Try Some Self-Compassion



From the Harvard Business ReviewChristopher Germer describes the importance of self-compassion to help you recover from failure.  I once interviewed a woman who had gotten fired from her previous job.  She told me that after that she couldn’t get out of bed for a month.  Aside from not making a good impression in a job interview, it struck me that she did not have the skills to recover from her previous failure.  No doubt it was a difficult situation, but her emotional state limited her ability to take steps to recover.  Christoper describes both why it is successful and how to practice self compassion.  He writes;

There is a substantial and growing body of research that shows that self-compassion is closely associated with emotional resilience, including the ability to soothe ourselves, recognize our mistakes, learn from them, and motivate ourselves to succeed. Self-compassion is consistently correlated with a wide range of measures of emotional well-being, such as optimism, life satisfaction, autonomy, and wisdom, as well as with reduced levels of anxiety, depression, stress, and shame.

To achieve these benefits, self-compassion must include three components, according to my colleague and pioneering self-compassion researcher Kristin Neff:

  • Mindfulness. Awareness of what’s going on in the present moment. To be kind to ourselves, we need to know that we’re struggling while we’re struggling. It helps to name the emotions we’re feeling in tricky situations and to ground ourselves in the here and now (sensations, sounds, sights). These are all skills associated with mindfulness that make space for a compassionate response.
  • Common humanity. Knowing we’re not alone. Most of us tend to hide in shame when things go really wrong in our lives, or we hide from ourselves through distraction or with a few stiff drinks. The antidote is recognizing our common humanity — understanding that many others would feel the same way in similar situations and that we’re not the only ones who suffer in life.
  • Self-kindness. A kind and warm-hearted response to ourselves. This can take many forms, such as a gentle hand over the heart, validating how we feel, talking to ourselves in an encouraging manner, or a simple act of kindness such as drinking a cup of tea or listening to music.

When we feel threatened, our nervous system is awash in adrenaline and goes into overdrive; when we’re in this state, showing ourselves care and kindness is usually the last thing we’re inclined to do. When we experience positive, warm connections, however, our system releases oxytocin, a feel-good hormone that downregulates the effects of adrenaline. Taking a mindful pause and then bringing kindness to ourselves seems to activate our innate caregiving system and the calming effect of oxytocin, allowing the mind to clear and giving us a chance to take rational steps to resolve the issue.

Brian Tracy says that if you are a busy person, you should expect a crisis every 3 months.  Undoubtedly, some of the crisis will be of our own doing.  Before the next crisis, develop a plan to practice self compassion.

Read the full story at To Recover from Failure, Try Some Self-Compassion


  • Nathan S. Gibson

    Nathan S. Gibson is an independent worker compliance business partner who provides expertise and creative solutions to enhance workforce flexibility and maintain compliance. He helps mitigate the risks associated with the misclassification of self-employed consultants, freelancers and independent contractors.

    View all posts