Updated: Jan 1
Are Self Empathy & Compassion Merely Empty Words?
Self empathy and self compassion are not mere empty words that simply feel warm and fuzzy. These are in fact the hard realities that a lot of us have forgotten to prioritize in our daily lives. I have to admit that I was not deliberate about it until my doctors and therapists started bringing them up regularly during my appointments this year. Yes this was during my complete collapse on most levels during the peak of my burnout.
Self-care, self empathy sounded great but they were a complete different story for me in practice. Articles about these would often appear in my social feeds and I assumed that I knew better about the symptoms and could pull myself out. I had also simplified the concept of self empathy to getting regular massage therapies, occasional pilates and annual vacation trips. As I was heading closer to my burnout collapse, any self care ritual however small were the first things to go off from my list. In our user research, we also found irrespective of geography or other personal attribute, self care was the first thing to be de-prioritized as people progressed from one stage of burnout to another.
Why Is Self Compassion Generally So Hard?
As I was recovering from my burnout and also reading about this subject, I started asking a lot of questions to my therapists about why self compassion was hard and not something that people considered as daily rituals. I also started talking to a number of people for my research and some of the insights below might help us understand why making time for self care for a lot of us might not come naturally or at some point in our lives we take it off our ToDo lists.
Why Was Self Compassion So Hard For Me?
Reflecting on my own healing journey, I learnt the following few facts about self compassion that held true for myself:
It brought back and still does sometimes the hurt, pain and sadness about a personal tragedy with the birth of our son 5 years ago
It strengthened my belief system that self-compassion was a sign of my weakness
I equated self compassion to being self absorbed and selfish
I felt tremendous guilt (still do at times) about the hard start our 5 year old son had with his open heart surgeries. Shying away from self compassion was how I rationalized self punishing for what happened to our son. As I am reviewing this blog, it feels messed up; however this is what I had felt at the time
Silver Lining In Moments Of Doom...
For anyone, who might be interested to read my shame and experience with burnout, please read my blog here. I can now understand how wrong I was to think of self compassion and being a caring and a loving mother as not complimentary. All of my burnout journey is not entirely dark - there was a silver lining in a few different ways for me and for us as a family:
I recovered and rebounded from my collapse in 3 months
I had the support and accountability from a peer group nudging me along
Our family life feels a lot more balanced and calm. Our 5 year old son no longer asks me why I loved him less or how much he misses me
I took the leap into entrepreneurship and founded Spark To Substance
I made my life's mission to support both individuals, leaders and companies to normalize mental wellbeing especially burnout
The birth of "Reboot + Reflect 2019 Workshop" became a reality
The Birth of "Reflect +Reboot 2019 Workshop"
Keri Mayall and I got introduced through mutual connections. We got on a call in October, shared our journey and instantly connected. Few more discussions later, I asked Keri if she would be interested in partnering with me to create an experience where people would have the space and time to introspect, connect and discuss the topic of burnout all whilst we learn a few nifty tools and strategies to manage our stress. Being a product person, the Minimum Lovable Experience (MLE) that we envisioned was a 2 hour interactive workshop targeted towards Women in Tech.
We planned out our initial 2 workshops in December, less than 2 months after meeting each other and it was a great learning experience. Our 2nd workshop was SOLD OUT. Both the workshops were filled with many things in common between both the participants and the facilitators - the famous mom-guilt, self-doubt, anxiety, insomnia, fear of being not good enough and how out of balance our different components of wholesome wellbeing was. There were great moments and pure joy of reflections and laughter and assurance that no one was feeling these self deprecating thoughts alone. This is the power of stories and connections and how a safe and inclusive platform can open up barriers to let the healing process begin. Just hearing some of the feedback like below has given us so much confidence of how serious the epidemic of burnout is and how little we understand about it to be able to do something to solve it.
What Participants From The Workshops Are Raving About...
My Personal Vision For 2020 & Beyond
I personally envision a lot of my passion and effort in 2020 to help end burnout and more importantly humanize the burnout epidemic - not just for women but for anyone. I would like to create platforms and offerings so that as people and organizations we are able to humanize business success, growth and holistic wellbeing.
Spark To Substance's End Burnout Initiative
Spark To Substance has launched a few different programs to work with individuals, leaders and and organizations to #endburnouttoday. I am looking forward to support anyone in the following scenarios:
Individuals who might still be traumatized by their last burnout
Individuals who are fearing that they are heading towards a burnout
Leaders who want to build wholesome and healthier teams
Individuals who might want to take stand and make a difference when they see someone in their family, friends or workplace with signs of burnout
Our programs are constantly evolving so we definitely look forward to collaborating with you to make these better and improve how we incorporate not just mental wellbeing; rather holistic wellbeing at workplaces.
The details for these programs can be found below:
Mental Health for Product Managers: Learn tools and strategies to manage your Mental Health as Product Managers and apply for PMDojo's Product Accelerator.
The Taboo of Burnout Masterclass: Please review the details and sign up online here.
Recognize, Survive and Rebound from Burnout 1:1 OR Mastermind Format: We have a rolling cohort that starts every month. Please register and sign up online here.
Holistic Workplace Health & Rituals Workshops: Since we will customize each workshop to align with your culture, values, strategy and people, please contact us if you are interested in this. Reach us here.
We look forward to connecting with you and learning more about how we might be able to support you in your journey to become a better version of yourself, a better version of your team, a better version of the organization and a better version of society at large.