It has been said the three certainties in life are death, taxes, and change. And more than ever, we have had such unprecedented changes these last three years – the likes of which most of us have never experienced. Businesses have struggled too with a downturn in customers, staff shortages, high inflation and interest rates, supply issues, having to find new ways of doing business amongst other financial and psychological challenges.
While we have had to come to terms with events that we have had little control over such as the global spread of the pandemic, this hasn’t been easy. The roll-on effects of this massive occurrence persist.
With any change, the ‘endings’ can be gradual such as finding new ways of running your business and managing your workforce or sudden such as an unanticipated diagnosis or job loss. All these changes whether sudden or gradual, planned, or unplanned have a compounding effect on our health and well-being. Even positive changes such as moving into a new house, starting a new job, or traveling can be stressful.
Take a minute now and reflect on the changes you have endured in the last two to three years. How is your tally looking? As one person said, “We have endured a lot both personally and, in our business, and the worst thing – it isn’t over yet!” Or perhaps you are one of those lucky ones who is saying, “it has been pretty much business as usual, or we have done even better!” Congratulations, if that is the case.
The reality for many is that we often underestimate the number of changes and their impact on us. When you are in the throes of change – trying to keep your “head above water” and or experiencing a grave sense of grief and loss of what was – it can be hard to see an emergent future.
This can engender reactions like trying even harder, getting frustrated angry, and despondent, feeling stretched beyond capacity, and generally finding yourself in the quagmire of a negative downward cycle. Just “treading water” is how one person described it.
With our outward focus, what we forget to do is what is perhaps needed the most.
Self-compassion is the moat that gives us a buffer from the torrents of change. It provides self-caring armor as it fosters psychological resilience. It helps us re-orient our thoughts, feelings, and emotions from a negative judgmental space to a more generative, space where new seeds of possibility can arise.
The three components of self-compassion as articulated by Kristen Neff, a research psychologist and leading authority on this topic are:
- Mindfulness – being aware of our thoughts, feelings, and sensations in the moment. Whatever these are, instead of avoiding or resisting these feelings, it is letting ourselves experience them.
- Self-kindness – bringing the same attitude of kindness to us as we have towards others. Rather than self-flagellating, it is about having a caring attitude toward us. Instead of “mercilessly judging and criticizing yourself for various inadequacies or shortcomings”, it is about being kind and gentle with ourselves.
- Common Humanity – this is recognizing that as human beings we are all flawed and imperfect.It is about learning to accept and forgive us /ourselves for our flaws. It reminds us that pain and suffering are part of the human experience and that every such moment can also connect us to others. We are all in this together with our various issues and challenges.
Life is cyclical and change is inevitable. Invariably change inherently also poses the birth of the new. Can you see any ‘silver linings’ beckoning amidst these transitions? Within the changes you and your business have endured, what are some things that you are still grateful for? Rather than some “feel good mumbo jumbo” research shows that a sense of gratitude helps us tip the balance to being more mindful of what’s still working, what’s good, and the strengths and opportunities we may otherwise overlook or take for granted.
And finally, if you are still feeling like you are treading water currently along with self-compassion just remember, “this too shall pass!
P.S. If you are going through some changes personally or professionally currently, are feeling stuck and or would value a set of fresh eyes and new ideas, drop me an email – firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a time for a 20–30-minute laser coaching session at a heavily discounted rate as my special offer for a limited time. I look forward to hearing.