Self-Empathy: The Leadership Superpower You Didn’t Know You Needed

I was my own worst critic. Perfectionism fueled an endless loop of self-criticism, and the constant striving left me feeling depleted and burned out. During a challenging time, I had an epiphany, “Would you talk to your best friend the way you talk to yourself?” That question hit home. Suddenly, the relentless negativity I heaped on myself seemed cruel. It was a pivotal moment, starting me on the path of self-empathy – a journey every leader should undertake.

What is Self-Empathy?

Self-empathy is all about extending kindness, understanding, and acceptance to yourself. Just as empathy means understanding the emotions and experiences of others, self-empathy means recognizing your pain, struggles, and limitations without harsh judgment. It’s about acknowledging that you’re human – and that doing your best is enough.

Why Self-Empathy is Crucial for Leaders

The pressures of leadership are immense. Leaders often put the well-being of teams, organizations, and clients before their own. However, this external focus can come at a high cost. Self-empathy is the antidote to this leadership trap. Here’s why it matters:

  • Reduced Stress and Burnout: When you’re your own worst critic, you’re bound to get overwhelmed. Self-empathy helps you recognize your limits and cut yourself some slack. This can help reduce stress and prevent burnout.
  • Improved Decision-Making: Being too hard on yourself can cloud your judgment and lead to fear-driven decisions. Self-empathy fosters a sense of calm and confidence, allowing you to make sound choices.
  • Increased Resilience: Mistakes and setbacks are a part of leadership. Self-empathy helps you see setbacks as opportunities for growth instead of personal failures. A self-compassionate leader bounces back better.
  • Enhanced Influence: Leaders who display empathy towards themselves earn greater trust and respect from their teams. You can’t truly understand and inspire others if you lack empathy for yourself.
  • Better Health and Wellbeing: The constant stress of self-criticism impacts mental and physical health. Self-empathy reduces stress and creates space for better self-care, directly improving overall well-being.

5 Ways to Cultivate Self-Empathy

If you’re ready to step away from self-criticism and embrace the power of self-empathy, these practices will help:

  1. Notice Your Inner Critic: Become aware of your negative thoughts about yourself. When they arise, acknowledge them without judgment.
  2. Challenge Your Inner Critic: Ask yourself, “Would I say this to a friend? Is this thought even true?” Replace harsh self-talk with kind and supportive statements.
  3. Prioritize Self-Care: Sleep, exercise, and healthy routines aren’t luxuries—they’re essential for your well-being. Practice saying “no” to protect your time for self-care.
  4. Embrace Your Imperfections: We all make mistakes. View them as learning opportunities, not proof of inadequacy. Celebrate progress, not perfection.
  5. Seek Support: Don’t struggle alone. A therapist, coach, or trusted mentor can be invaluable in developing self-empathy and a healthier inner voice.

Start Today

Self-empathy isn’t self-indulgence; it’s wise leadership. Remember, this transformation takes time and practice. Be patient and kind to yourself, and soon, your biggest supporter will replace the harsh critic in your head.

Connect with Jevon in Transform Plus!

Guest Author: Jevon Wooden, CEO, BrightMind Consulting Group

Author Bio: Jevon Wooden is a sought-after keynote speaker, coach, and consultant specializing in empathetic leadership. He empowers organizations to achieve breakthrough results by cultivating high-performing teams, fostering innovation, and boosting employee engagement. With a background spanning the military, business, and world-renowned organizations, Jevon blends data-driven insights with empathy to unlock leaders’ and teams’ potential. His strategies have been featured in Forbes, Entrepreneur, and Inc. Magazine. As CEO of BrightMind Consulting Group, Jevon offers dynamic keynotes, transformative workshops, and individualized coaching. His journey, from adversity to earning a Bronze Star, adds authenticity to his message, inspiring others to achieve greatness.

Can’t wait for Transform 2025?

Mark your calendar for March 17-19, 2025, at Wynn Las Vegas. Sign up to stay in the loop and we’ll let you know when registration opens.