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  • Sarah Banks

Anxiety about anxiety anyone?

The Yerkes-Dodson law shows us that a little bit of stress can actually be good for our performance, but only up to point. When we become overly aroused, it can lead to fatigue, anxiety and generally not performing at our best.

I don’t know about you, but this is certainly something that I can relate to.

Add to this, that when we are not performing optimally (which as an imperfect human has got to be quite a lot of the time), it can be easy to berate ourselves and fall into self-critical mode. The self-critical saboteur is well-researched with even those at the top of the hierarchy often judging themselves harshly. 

This is one reason why I find the work by Kristin Neff around self-compassion incredibly powerful. In her Ted Talk, ‘The Space Between Self-Esteem and Self Compassion’ she outlines the problems with self-esteem. Particularly resonant is her argument that for everyone to have high self-esteem, each one of us would need to out-perform our peers, which is a statistical impossibility.

Instead, she offers compelling reasons for why self-compassion is a more effective solution, and which involves three components. 

❤️  Self-kindness: affording ourselves the same kindness as we often unthinkingly afford others, with permission to be less self-critical

 👫 Common humanity: we are more similar than different and imperfection is a natural aspect of what it is to be a human

🧠 Mindfulness: having awareness of our physical, emotional and mental pain so that we can be intentional about how we respond to the experience.

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