5 simple-but-transformative tools to protect yourself and thrive in business environments that often lack compassion
We all remember the golden rule – treat others as we would like to be treated. But in business there isn’t always that same level of compassion. To protect you from being brought down emotionally, here are five ways you can treat yourself like a good friend so that you’ll not only survive, but thrive in the sometimes dog-eat-dog world of business.
Researchers have shown that being compassionate towards yourself contributes to your wellbeing more than self-esteem. Those who practice self-compassion are less likely to feel depressed or anxious and are more resilient in the face of difficult business challenges, setbacks or high-stress environments. While those who are self-compassionate also tend to have higher levels of self-esteem, merely having self-esteem won’t prevent you from being self-critical and having negative thoughts about yourself. Self-compassion does. So treat yourself like a friend and next time that voice in your head says “You’re such a loser,” or “How could you have made such a stupid mistake?” change the dialogue to one of self-compassion. “Everybody makes mistakes now and then, it isn’t a big deal. What has this taught me? What can I do differently next time? How can I make it better?” Being compassionate with yourself can actually help you become more successful.
Be Forgiving of Self.
Along with self-compassion comes the ability to forgive oneself. Just as forgiveness of others plays a role in our overall happiness, it is important to be able to forgive ourselves for inevitable lapses in judgment or business mistakes we might have made. Without self-forgiveness we can fall into an endless loop of self-criticism. If you have made a mistake, do what is necessary to recover as best as possible and then forgive yourself for being human. Focus on the future and what you have learned and don’t continue to beat yourself up. Forgive yourself and move on.
Allow Yourself to Experience Joy
So many of us get so caught up in the daily work of our lives that we don’t allow ourselves the time or opportunity to experience those things that bring us true joy. To treat yourself like a friend, give yourself permission to do the things that make you happy. Whether it’s a dinner date with a favorite person, a walk in the woods, or an evening alone curled up by the fire, it’s important to treat yourself to experiences that nourish you. This is the best way I know to recharge for the daily challenges you are likely to encounter in the business world. Time spent doing what you love makes you more creative and focused and ultimately better able to succeed in your work. Self-care is the antidote for stress.
Create Your Own Private Refuge of Calm
The world can get stressful and chaotic. To be your own best friend, create an island of calm for yourself in the midst of the chaos. Create a space or go someplace where you can relax. Utilize whatever tools and techniques will work for you: mindfulness or meditation or a walk to a park bench where you can commune with urban wildlife. I have a friend, Jane, who has a yoga mat and candles in her office. It isn’t much but it’s a sacred space in her otherwise stressful workplace. Inhale calm, exhale stress.
Eat Well and Exercise.
If you were put in charge of your best friend’s wellbeing, one of the first things you might do to take good care of him/her is to suggest that they eat healthy and exercise. This seems self-evident, yet is often sacrificed. We know these practices improve our physical and emotional state, and yet we’re hesitant to adopt these healthy routines for ourselves. My friend Dean, who works all the time, only ate unhealthy meals at his desk. Then he’d complain about how bad he felt. I suggested he try bringing in simple, healthy meals and taking a walk outside to see if he felt better. “It works,” he said, the next time I saw him. Now he keeps the fridge at his office stocked with simple salads and his walking shoes at hand. If you fall into an unhealthy pattern at work, think of what advice you would give to someone you care about, and then be your own best friend – and follow it.