Why is practicing self-compassion important? How does being kind to yourself improve your mental health?
In Burnout, Emily and Amelia Nagoski say that practicing self-compassion can help women ignore what the patriarchy wants them to be. To limit self-criticism, you need to befriend your manic inner voice.
Keep reading for the authors’ advice on avoiding burnout with self-compassion.
Self-Compassion and the Patriarchy
The authors explain that the most important factor in successfully avoiding burnout and thriving is to practice self-compassion. They explain that every woman has a manic voice in their head that tries to manage the gap between who they are and who the patriarchy expects them to be—this is the voice that tells you you’re not enough but rages at the external pressures around you that make you feel that way. To practice self-compassion and shake off the intense self-criticism and toxic perfectionism women are prone to, you must personify and befriend your manic inner voice.
(Shortform note: In The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle similarly claims that every person has a voice in their head that analyzes what’s going on around them, comments on their interactions, dwells on the past, speculates about the future, complains, judges, and self-criticizes. But while the authors of Burnout only talk about women’s experience with this voice and say that it’s a result of the patriarchy, Tolle says that everyone has this voice in their head, that it’s the voice of our ego, and that it’s a result of being human. Although Tolle disagrees with the authors’ claim that societal factors like the patriarchy cause the ego, he explains that societal pressures shape how the ego judges you and others.)
The authors recommend that you imagine your manic voice as a friend sitting beside you whenever you feel triggered by a stressor. This will help you see your expectations and emotions objectively, allowing you to judge whether they’re rational or not more accurately. Personifying these thoughts and feelings will also help you show yourself the same compassion and support that you would show a friend—you can either encourage yourself to keep going or remind yourself to lower your unrealistic self-expectations. This will ultimately create a gap between you and the thoughts and emotions that lead to burnout.
(Shortform note: In A New Earth, Eckhart Tolle agrees that detaching from this inner voice, what he calls the ego, is necessary to reach a state of practicing self-compassion and inner peace that’s free from negativity and stress. The authors recommend doing this by personifying the thoughts and emotions that crop up when we’re triggered by a stressor, analyzing whether they’re rational or not, and being compassionate toward the voice. However, Tolle recommends ignoring these thoughts and emotions altogether—rather than spending time thinking about them, recognize that they’re the voice of your ego and let them pass. Over time, this will make you less susceptible to stress.)
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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Emily Nagoski and Amelia Nagoski's "Burnout" at Shortform.
Here's what you'll find in our full Burnout summary:
- Why women are more likely to suffer physical, mental, and emotional burnout in today's society
- How women can handle these stressors and thrive
- How to recover from burnout and get back on your feet