If you’re feeling exhausted, you’re not alone.

As we all gear up for “return to workplace” (in whatever form that looks like for you) and “return to work travel” I’m noticing leaders have mixed emotions. There is the excitement of being in person with old and new colleagues we have only seen on video for the last two years. Then there is the dread of the energy it takes to go back to “the old normal”. With “the Great Resignation” many of us are also working with many open positions in our teams while the work doesn’t seem to have gone away.

The old way of working, running on empty fumes, doesn’t seem to work. Work has to change from the inside out. It has to create space for more pause. More checking in with ourselves and others. More recognition of the energy we have available, for restoring and regenerating energy.

A great tool to do that is the simple practice of self-compassion. Here’s what that looks like when you notice that you’re exhausted or experiencing a difficult emotion:

  • Pause and take a deep breath, with a long exhale (this activates the parasympathetic nervous system in the body, our rest and relax system).
  • Put your hands in the center of your heart space.
  • Repeat to yourself: “This is a difficult moment. Difficult moments are part of being human. May I be kind to myself”.
  • Pause and notice the impact of this on your mind and body. You can choose to repeat this until you feel a sense of calm and restoration.

In my podcast interview with Dr. Kristin Neff (researcher on self-compassion and author of the book Self-Compassion), she spoke about how self-compassion helps us grow self-confidence and has successfully been used to treat PTSD. In my book Wired for Disruption, I shared how self-compassion is a key tool for creating neuro-emotional agility (our ability to move ourselves from states of threat and burnout to states of clarity, curiosity and creativity).

Research shows that self-compassion even helps us extend more compassion to others. This will allow you to develop stronger, more trusted and connected relationships with others, perhaps an antidote to “The Great Resignation” or simply to fuel more positive energy for you and in your team.

We tried this tool in a recent conversation with a client (let’s call him George) who had just come out of a difficult conversation with his boss and his boss’s boss. The conversation had left his self-confidence shaken. His mind was going 100 miles per hour with self-judging thoughts and he was experiencing anxiety. He had worked hard to create a great presentation, rushed through it because his boss’s boss didn’t have enough time, and had received unclear feedback. After he was able to calm himself down with this practice, he was able to recognize very clearly what next steps he needed to take, instead of being stuck in anxiety and self-judgment.

Try this practice for yourself and let us know how it goes by commenting below.


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