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How can you use compassion to improve performance?

Unfortunately, England didn't win the Women's World Cup yesterday so we'll have to wait until the next one! ; ) Despite the disappointment of the loss, I’d like to share this great article by Cath Bishop about compassion in Sport and how it’s helping athletes to perform at a higher a level and also enjoy their performances more too.

It has been both moving and inspiring to see compassion become more a part of coaching in sports over the last decade. Sport has a great power to reflect our collective hopes and dreams. This influence of compassion in sports coaching can teach us a lot about how we treat ourselves and others in our day to day lives.

One of the approaches I integrate regularly into sessions with clients is Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT). This mindfulness based approach helps people to develop their innate compassionate instinct which may have been snuffed out by negative, unhelpful and “less than optimal” life experiences.

Compassion can be defined as a commitment to alleviating the suffering of self or others.

We suffer when we experience pain and hardship. Often we feel able to extend support, kindness and compassion to others but can be pretty vicious to ourselves.

Sure, a harsh inner critic and a ´kick up the arse´ can get you moving and get things done but how pleasant is it?

Is it really that inspiring if that’s all you get day in day out?

Generally, we perform better and are more motivated when we want to do something, feeling more free and creative too.

Far too often we may feel forced to perform, or under pressure which actually can crush our spirits and shackle our inner creativity.

Much of schooling and coaching techniques from the past have revolved around fear and shame as a stick to motivate.

Compassion acts as the carrot and the helping hand that allows you to finish the race rather than the stick beats you over the line.

My question is what’s going to work better in the long run? Carrot or stick?

The first step to building compassion, is to start to identify when we are being harsh on ourselves.

Then, we can learn simple and practical tools to help us to mentally defuse from these inner critical thoughts.

Once this is done, we become more able to gain some space to develop a different inner response and perhaps introduce a little more self-compassion to help motivate us, rather than jump on the self-flagellation bandwagon, which may have been rolling for many years.

Cultivating this more compassionate inner world is key to a healthier internal mental space, which we will transfer outwardly in to our day to day life.

When things feel like they’ve fallen apart and you notice yourself being hard on yourself, how much does it help for you to put the boot in?

If we can detach from the thought, become more present and develop a more compassionate inner voice, we can find easier to pick up the pieces and start again.

We may even relish it!


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