Why productivity must start with self-compassion

Talking to yourself with compassion can help you get things done.
Why productivity must start with self-compassion

Hero image by Isha Gaines

There are times when knowing how important the goal is, doesn’t help you reach it sooner. The internal alarms are blaring, and you promise yourself, you’ll get started, then there’s another delay.

No shade.

I may not know the specifics, but I’m familiar with the smoldering heat of pressure. When it comes to meeting important deadlines, how many times have you heard the advice that the key is to get better at time-management?

Maybe it's time to look at it from a different perspective. Perhaps the issue isn’t a lack of planning, but an invitation for more compassion toward yourself. 

Consider your negative self-talk:

Why is how you talk to yourself so important? You talk to yourself more than you talk to anyone else. That being said, <tweet-link>you need a supportive you - not a perfect you.<tweet-link> 

Let’s consider our self-talk and factors such as: 

Perfectionism: “Do it perfectly or not at all”. When everything demands perfection, it can be related to all or nothing thinking, a cognitive distortion

Fear: “It’s too risky”. You feel unsettled about what possibilities the future may hold.

Self-criticism: Here I go again.” You take mental strolls through time being hard on yourself for past experiences. 

You’re not alone. When you notice beating yourself up happening, let this be a gentle reminder to pause for self-compassion. We all have moments that are not our best moments. 

Treat yourself with compassion

You’re doing the best you can at any given moment. 

According to expert Dr. Kristin Neff, “Self-compassion entails being warm and understanding toward ourselves when we suffer, fail, or feel inadequate, rather than ignoring our pain or flagellating ourselves with self-criticism.”

Dr. Neff also shares self-compassion guided practices and exercises on her website that are worth checking out.

Something to keep in mind is that most of the thoughts that capture our attention are not facts. Awareness is key when it comes to increasing positive self-talk.

Instead of: “I’ll never get this done.” Try: “I’m doing my best and that’s all I can ask of myself.” Progress is progress.

Instead of: “I don’t have time to finish it perfectly”. Try: “My worth isn’t based on my achievements.” You’re allowed to show up in the world imperfectly. 

Instead of: “Why do I always procrastinate?” Try: “I say yes to being patient with myself.” Even the smallest step you can take is still a step. 

Self-compassion can include challenging unhelpful thoughts. “Don't say anything to yourself that you wouldn't say to anyone else”, says Mayo Clinic. 

Benefits of self-compassion

For some people, self-compassion sounds a little too easy. 

Personally, I wasn’t always aware of when and how to practice self-compassion, I often pushed myself to work when I didn’t want to. My go-to strategy was to pull all-nighters, neglecting self-care. There was so much strain on my brain, I needed to refocus my energy into more sustainable and healthier practices.

For me, the critical difference between sleepless nights and supporting myself through some old fears and unhelpful habits, was giving self-compassion a try. 

I can make a different choice about how I respond to avoidance.

Turns out yelling at myself for “always doing this,” or calling myself “bad at time-management,” has never been an effective way for me to complete tasks.

When it seems like the world is waiting, or you need to get back to doing something you dread, telling yourself that it’s understandable to feel how you feel can go a long way.

From my experience, if you look to self-compassion, you’ll find an opportunity to start a kind conversation with yourself. 

Final thoughts

Freelancing is full of uncertainty - whether it’s creating content, invoicing, sending proposals or emailing difficult clients.

That also means freelancing is full of fresh starts. Since no one has it all figured out all the time, including the most experienced freelancers, wherever you are on your path is beginner-friendly. My hope for you today is that you’ll take the next step ahead with self-compassion.

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Amber Malone
Amber Malone
I’m inspired by weird and non-traditional approaches to creating. I read energy, coach and share insights to help people who follow what nourishes their soul.
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