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Celebrating the Catch: Strategies for Promoting Self-Compassion and Positive Change in the Workplace


Picture this:


You’re sitting in a meeting full of colleagues when your supervisor asks about the progress of a current project, and you don’t answer. Maybe because you don’t know the answer or because there isn’t progress at that time, and expectations are running high.


Or . . . you’re tasked by your manager to put together some slides for a presentation. You put all your effort into it, only to get the feedback that you’ve omitted some critical information. 


Or . . . you find yourself in a heated conversation or argument with a co-worker. 


Or . . . well, you get the picture.


What might happen next?


You might:

  • Feel anxious or nervous
  • Experience a sense of inadequacy
  • Look at yourself as a failure or incompetent
  • Feel humiliated and worthless
  • Worry someone will find out how bad you are
  • Blush and feel tense/tight in the chest
  • Feel your mind race and struggle to see things rationally


All of these can be part of a shame spiral. Let’s take a closer look at what that is and what we can do about it.


The Shame Game

Shame is a strong emotion often triggered by feelings of embarrassment or fear. It is rooted in a belief that we are fundamentally flawed and encourages us to hide what we consider “undesirable.” This inner critic is never far, constantly scanning our behaviors and comparing them with reactions from the outside world. When we’re stuck in shame, our responses to mistakes (no matter how big or small) can be out of proportion and intense.


But that doesn’t mean we have to stay in that space. On the other side of shame is the courageous act of self-compassion. Granting ourselves this gift requires us to stay present when facing an uncomfortable situation and paves the way to self-forgiveness instead of self-criticism.


But before we can promote self-compassion and positive change there’s one important step that we call The Catch.  


The Catch 

The Catch is the very moment where we recognize our inner state of being. It happens when we allow ourselves to stop, look deeper, and explore how we might feel and behave apart from shame. It describes an intentional noticing of the disruptive thoughts and stories that flood our mind or even how we change physically . . . all while trying to resist the urge for approval from others or immediately trying to fix a mistake. 


The Catch is critical because only when we actively and consciously recognize that we are suffering from a stressful situation can we begin to enact positive change. Turning our attention inward in these moments helps reduce fear and anxiety, destructive behavior and thoughts, and the time we spend in the shame spiral. 


In other words, The Catch is cause for celebration. Afterwards, we can move forward with self-compassion. But how? 


Strategies for Self-Compassion

We don’t have to wait until an uncomfortable situation occurs in order to practice The Catch and what comes next. We can start today by reflecting on past experiences and offering ourselves compassion for those moments. Let’s try it together.


Start by recalling a specific situation that sent you into a shame spiral in the past. Pull the scenario up in your mind. 


Now, ask yourself the following reflective questions:


  • Is there a pattern where these thoughts and feelings are recurring? 
  • How did my thoughts, emotions, behavior, and/or physical appearance change as a result of that experience, both in the short- and long-term? 
  • What would it have looked like to be kinder to myself in this situation? 
  • How could I have stayed more present with myself, and how might that have affected the outcome?  


Some of these questions might feel easier to answer than others. That’s okay. If you’re stuck, sometimes it can help to take a different perspective. Imagine your colleague or friend is going through a similar situation. What would you tell them? What wouldn’t you tell them? How would you support them? 


Another tiny but mighty tip is to literally straighten up–your posture, that is. When we’re facing a difficult situation, our posture tends to change naturally. We droop with our moods. A quick start on the path to breaking the cycle of self-disruptive talk and behavior is by shifting our posture in the moment. Try it and let me know if it works for you! 


Do you struggle with forgiving yourself? What strategies work for you to practice The Catch and develop self-compassion? I’d love to learn what works for you.


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Kristin Sauter, a Co-Active Leadership Coach, is a native German who brings an international perspective to her coaching through her past work in the UK, the United States, Germany, and points in between. Kristin’s work with Sarah and many leaders across the U.S. has allowed her to build a deeper understanding and appreciation of people-focused leadership, what Kristin terms “PEOPLESHIP.” Kristin shares her passion and advocacy for mental well-being in her coaching with the belief in unashamedly sharing experiences and exploring healthier paths to emotional fitness using the principle of Positive Intelligence.

Comments (2)

Great article. Something I got from a mentor was “don’t talk to my friend like that” when I was critical of myself. When I asked her about this she said we you say that to someone else you care about. My answer, no way. So why was I doing it to myself. She then asked if any of my friends talked to me about me like that, no way. So she challenged me to channel me to others when I talked to myself. It helped a lot.

Wow! That really hit me with some power Tracy! It’s so simple and yet so profound to reframe with way you think about yourself. Thank you for sharing.

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