Young Women Leaders

Self-Compassion – something every leader needs


Photo: Dr. Kristin Neff, borrowed from self-compassion.org

Over the past two and a half years
or so, I have come increasingly aware of my own not-so-nice mental treatment of myself. I have always been ambitious, strived to do better and eager to learn new things. I am passionate about leadership and I know I have the skills to lead now and in the future. On one level, I am fully aware of this.

BUT on another level I am constantly judging myself, like I have witnessed in so many other young (and not-so-young) women around me. As I have mentioned before, during my childhood, I did not raise my hand in the classroom until I was absolutely certain that my answer was correct. This is something I still battle, even in college I could get upset (on the inside) when I answered a question incorrect.

When in a new situation with a potential boss, an interesting/attractive guy or with somebody I admire I sometimes become numb because I am so aware of what I am saying the entire time, and none of it seems to make sense. There´s a little voice in myself that is basically beating me up for not being smart, pretty, thin, funny, relaxed, well-dressed or [insert description of choice here] enough.

I´m pretty sure nobody notices this. Only my closest friends know this because of course I see this as a weakness, and I really don´t want people to know about this “flaw” of mine. I want them to see the facade that I put up instead.

So why then I am writing about it here? Because I know it is something that needs to be talked about. Again, so many young women leaders suffer in silence, beating themselves up for not being perfect, and this hinders their potential and quality of living. We miss out on opportunities because we are scared to make fools out of ourselves. We would do even better in school, organizations and at social events if we would not give to shits about what we and others think of us. It´s hard to admit to another person that we are imperfect, because the world expects us to be, heck, WE expect us to be perfect!

I have told a few close friends about this constant struggle with my beating and mistreating inner self. One of my dear friends sent me this book called “Self-Compassion: Stop Beating Yourself Up and Leave Insecurity Behind.” Wow, that´s basically what I need! Ok, a book can solve no problems on its own, but I think the author, Kristin Neff, is doing a good job so far (I´m on ch. 2) in explaining the situation and offering pieces of advice on the way to improve your compassion for yourself.


For example, there is a test you can do at this website: http://self-compassion.org/test-your-self-compassion-level.html where you test how self-passionate you are, and there are different exercises you can use to work on this. Among them is writing yourself a caring and compassionate letter, talking to yourself, taking care of yourself like you would with a friend in need. I was amazed by the thought. I mean, I have been there for friends in need and done this many times, but I would never have considered doing it for myself. The task scares me, but I continue to plan my letter out. 

Leaders need to be compassionate, “and we must learn to treat ourselves as we wish to treat others” – Gloria Steinem. Leadership is not all about being sharp and strong and hard on those you lead, it is also about supporting and guiding others, and you can only do so if you can do it to yourself.

Finally, a video with Dr. Neff herself, go check out her website self-compassion.org and look around!

Much love from me to you.


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