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[Coaching Tip] The Power of Self Compassion in Coaching




It’s the cornerstone of coaching. Being able to hear someone’s situation, understand their goals, empathize with their struggles and exercise compassion as you work with them towards those goals.


As humans, we tend to be naturally compassionate with others – with ourselves, not so much. That is why one of the first conversations during your initial coaching session, you will need to explain the concept of being Self-Compassionate.


What does it mean to be truly Self Compassionate? 


Dr. Kristin Neff, Author of The Mindful Self-Compassion Workbook with Chris Germer breaks it down for us:


Self-compassion involves acting the same way towards yourself [as you do with others] when you are having a difficult time, fail, or notice something you don’t like about yourself. Instead of just ignoring your pain with a “stiff upper lip” mentality, you stop to tell yourself “this is really difficult right now,” how can I comfort and care for myself in this moment?


During the coaching process, your clients will be faced with realizing things about themselves that they were never truly aware of or they have suppressed addressing. It may become uncomfortable and triggering. And while we don’t want to be self-indulgent, or use compassion as an excuse to not make changes, it is important to recognize if a client in spiraling into the extreme end of beating themselves up on the path to self-actualization.


Dr. Neff explains that there are three components to self-compassion:


1. Self-kindness vs. Self-judgment.

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.  Self-compassionate people recognize that being imperfect, failing, and experiencing life difficulties is inevitable, so they tend to be gentle with themselves when confronted with painful experiences rather than getting angry when life falls short of set ideals.

2. Common humanity vs. Isolation.

Frustration at not having things exactly as we want is often accompanied by an irrational but pervasive sense of isolation – as if “I” were the only person suffering or making mistakes.  All humans suffer, however. The very definition of being “human” means that one is mortal, vulnerable and imperfect.  Therefore, self-compassion involves recognizing that suffering and personal inadequacy is part of the shared human experience – something that we all go through rather than being something that happens to “me” alone.

3. Mindfulness vs. Over-identification.

Self-compassion also requires taking a balanced approach to our negative emotions so that feelings are neither suppressed nor exaggerated.  This equilibrated stance stems from the process of relating personal experiences to those of others who are also suffering, thus putting our own situation into a larger perspective. It also stems from the willingness to observe our negative thoughts and emotions with openness and clarity, so that they are held in mindful awareness. Mindfulness is a non-judgmental, receptive mind state in which one observes thoughts and feelings as they are, without trying to suppress or deny them.


So the next time a client has reached this a struggle point, check in and see if they are being compassionate with themselves and how you can steer their energy accordingly.


To Your Success,


Jairek Robbins



Ready to level up your coaching and leadership game? Want to make a big impact in the lives of others? Add more power to your purpose with our 12-week online Performance Coach certification course. Apply here: Course overview & Application!



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