Self-compassion is helpful

This evening we had the opportunity to sit down and speak to each of our boys’ teachers at an informal parent – teacher interview. We really enjoyed the insights they shared about our children.
One of our brood can sometimes take a while to start a task and has learnt to quietly slip away and avoid the task. I wondered if he was afraid of hard work? The teacher suggested another slant, maybe he is afraid of failure and thus puts if off?


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I was quite delighted to later stumble across some research that offered an explanation. Below is my ‘nutshell’ summary of the article, followed by some copy and paste quotes that really stood out to me.


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There is some research, in its early stages, suggesting that when people procrastinate it may be because they are afraid of failing. When this happens people then are unkind to themselves with their self-talk. This then starts a downward negative spiral that stops them from attempting the task.

I am seriously wondering if that is what is happening with my boy?

The antidote suggested is that people need to be kind to themselves and show some self-compassion. Tell themselves it is ok to feel this way, acknowledge the situation for what it is and have a go. When a person has a higher sense of well-being then the fear of failure is reduced and they are more ready to have a go.

I can see and hear a conversation happening with my boy – soon! What a gift it will be to give to my children, the ability to show self-compassion. I know it is also something that I need to be better at – we can learn together.


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Below, for those interested are the ‘copy and pastes’!

“Why do we procrastinate?

Often because we fear failing at the task and dread all the negative self-evaluations that might result from that failure. Unconsciously, feeling okay about one’s self becomes more important than achieving the goal.

I’ve witnessed so many times how paralysis in the face of a task or problem can lead to escalating levels of self-criticism and self-depreciation, a self-perpetuating downward negative spiral.

Most procrastination-fighting techniques focus on ways to change a person’s behavior: just get started, take action, any kind of action. But a recent study suggests a different approach: being kind to yourself.

People prone to procrastination had lower levels of self-compassion and higher levels of stress. Further analysis revealed that procrastination might increase levels of stress—particularly among people low in self-compassion.

Interventions that focus on increasing self-compassion may be particularly beneficial for reducing the stress associated with procrastination because self-compassion allows a person to recognize the downsides of procrastination without entangling themselves in negative emotions, negative ruminations, and a negative relationship to themselves. People maintain an inner sense of well-being that allows them to risk failure and take action.

Her study found that students tend to procrastinate more than adults, possibly because they seem less able to regulate their negative emotions and negative self-evaluations.”

To read the whole article click here .


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