Tag Archives: Self Compassion

Self Compassion, not Self-Esteem, Enhances Performance

Juliana Breines

Juliana Breines

Self-compassion is treating one’s own mistakes with the same support and compassion offered to others, and it is more important than self-esteem to develop skills and performance, found University of California, Berkeley’s Juliana Breines and Serena Chen.

Self-compassion enables people to accept their mistakes and shortcomings with kindness.
It also enables equanimity when people are aware of painful thoughts and feelings.
Self-compassion is optimised when people accept responsibility for disappointing performance outcomes, and use this information to improve future performance.

Serena Chen

In Breines and Chen’s research, volunteers considered a personal setback with either:

  • self-compassion or
  • self-esteem enhancement (focusing on one’s positive qualities and accomplishments).

People who practiced a self-compassion tended to view personal shortcomings as changeable, and said they felt more motivated to improve performance by avoiding the same mistake.

Another task induced failure, then provided an opportunity to improve performance in a later challenge.
Participants who viewed their initial test failure with self-compassion devoted 25 per cent more time to preparing for future trials, and scored higher on the second test than those who focused on bolstering their self-esteem.

Self-compassion can enhance performance, suggested Breines and Chen, because it enables more dispassionate assessment of actions, abilities, and opportunities for future improvement.
In contrast, self-esteem-bolstering thoughts may narrow focus to consider only positive characteristics while overlooking opportunities for improvement.

Robert McCrae

Self-compassion measures were related to positive personality characteristics outlined in Robert McCrae and Paul Costa’s five factor model of personality known by the acronym OCEAN:

Paul Costa

  • Openness (curious vs. consistent/cautious)
  • Conscientiousness (organised vs. careless)
  • Extraversion (outgoing vs. reserved)
  • Agreeableness (friendly vs. unkind)
  • Neuroticism (nervous vs. confident)

    in a study by Kristin Neff and Stephanie Rude of University of Texas, and Kristin Kirkpatrick of Eastern Kentucky University.

Kristin Neff

Neff’s team found that higher levels of personal well-being, optimism, initiative, conscientiousness, curiosity, happiness were associated with self-compassion.
Higher self-compassion was also related to lower anxiety and depression.

In contrast, self-criticism, was associated with imagined assessments by others and comparisons with other people.

Mark Baldwin

McGill University’s Mark Baldwin found that participants who imagined an important person providing evaluative feedback experienced more negative self-evaluations, self-criticism, and negative moods.

Compassionate self-appraisals enable people to perform better and experience more positive moods than self-critical evaluations.

-*How have you applied self-compassion to improve performance?

Related Post
Working toward Goals with “Implementation Intentions”

©Kathryn Welds

Advertisement

Working toward Goals with “Implementation Intentions”

People are motivated by goals that enable:

  • Relatedness to others,
  • Competence in skillfully performance,
  • Autonomy in directing effort, according to Columbia’s Heidi Grant Halvorson.

    Heidi Grant Halvorson

    Heidi Grant Halvorson

    Juliana Breines

    • She advocated working toward “better” rather than only on achieving the goal to increase performance.

    This can be accomplished by acknowledging mistakes and practicing self-compassion, suggested by Berkeley’s Juliana Breines and Serena Chen, and University of Texas‘s Kristin Neff.

The Relatedness-Competence-Autonomy model aligns with Daniel Pink’s suggestion that meaningful goals enable two similar features and one different element:

Daniel Pink

  • Autonomy (same): Controlling work content and context,
  • Mastery (like Competence): Improving skill over time through persistence, effort, corrective feedback,
  • Purpose (in contrast to Relatedness): Being part of an inspiring goal.

Halvorson suggested ways to move closer toward goals:

Serena Chen

-Consider the larger context of specific productive actions, 

-Define reasons for doing what needs to be done – the “why,”

-Use “implementation intentions” to prepare responses for challenging situations:

If “x” occurs (specify time, place, circumstance),
then I will respond by doing, thinking, saying “y.”

    • “When I feel anxious, I will focus on inhaling and exhaling slowly for 60 seconds.”
      “When it’s 7 am, I will walk for 10 minutes,”

Kristin Neff

-Apply implementation intention routines (habits) for “strategic automation” to reduce decision-overload that may undermine self-control,

-Focus on something interesting for five minutes to evoke positive feelings,

-Review “small wins” and progress toward goals.

Goal persistence can be increased, reported Stanford’s Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer in a study of employees at seven companies.

Teresa Amabile

Teresa Amabile

They found that “catalysts” and “nourishers” continue movement toward goals:

    • Capitalise on preferred motivational style:
      -“Promotion-focused” (maximise gains, avoid missed opportunities, powered by optimism),
      -“Prevention-focused” (minimise losses, variance, powered by cautious pessimism),
    • Build willpower by committing to one specific, positively-stated behavior change (“walking for 10 minutes a day every day”)
    • Apply “implementation intentions,
    • Focus on a limited number of achievable goals,
    • Enlist “mental contrasting” to think about the satisfaction of achieving the goal.

Carol Dweck

Carol Dweck

Halvorson collaborated with Stanford’s Carol Dweck and quoted Henry Ford: “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re probably right” to underscore the value of optimistic engagement with goals.

Henry Ford

Henry Ford

They synthesized Dweck’s work on “mindsets” with Halvorson’s recommendations for setting, monitoring, protecting, executing, and celebrating goals.  

An earlier post outlined Dweck’s definitions of mindsets:

• Fixed Mindset:  Belief that personal capabilities are given, fixed, limited to present capacities, associated with fear, anxiety,

• Growth Mindset:  View that personal capabilities can expand based on commitment, effort, practice, instruction, correcting mistakescollaboration.

Peter Gollwitzer

Peter Gollwitzer

Columbia’s Peter Gollwitzer refined “mindsets” by distinguishing the Deliberative Mindset of evaluating which goals to pursue from the Implementation Mindset of planning goal execution.

His team found that the Deliberative Mindset is associated with:

    • Accurate, impartial analysis of goal feasibility and desirability,
    • Open-mindedness.

In contrast, the Implementation Mindset is linked to:

    • Optimistic, partial analysis of goal feasibility and desirability,
    • Closed-mindedness.

Halvorson, Dweck and Gollwitzer translated their research on self-determination and motivation into practical recommendations for goal seekers:

    • Adopt a supportive “mindset,”
    • Practice “self-compassion” when encountering setbacks to achieving goals,
    • Design effective responses to anticipated challenging situations,
    • Use “implementation intentions” and “strategic automation” toward goals,
    • Consider incremental progress toward goals.

-*What approaches help you work toward goals?

Related Posts:

©Kathryn Welds