Which brings success: pampering, self-care, or self compassion?

Every day I listen carefully to one-on-one professional conversations, looking for someone’s compelling story. A story that will help them share their ideas with the world.

In the past few weeks, I’ve noticed several conversations included suffering, and it concerned me.

Scott is a freelance consultant who recently experienced the loss of a loved one. He’s feeling the pressure to keep his clients happy and delivering on promises made. He’s doing his best to muscle through it. He’s exhausted and can’t focus.

Allison, CEO of a small company, is recovering from minor surgery. Recovery is taking longer than expected, and she’s frustrated. She believes she should be able to maintain her same work schedule. 

Dan is a high energy creative who loves to jump into a project, share his ideas, and then leap to the next project. He’s stuck in one project longer than usual and is questioning his value and purpose not only with the company but across his body of work.

All three people are struggling with pain: emotional, physical, existential. It’s difficult for those who care to observe this suffering. 

I found myself needing to share what I was observing with each of these clients but also with you.

We all find ourselves in pain at some point in our lives. What’s different is how we each chose to manage through and then work our way out of suffering. Though each person is seeking the appropriate professional help, as their coach, I’m also there to share what I observe.

Which brings success: pampering, self-care, or self-compassion?

We all need a little of each: self-care, self-compassion, and pampering. I noticed there needed to be more clarity in each person’s definition. The clarity helped them realize what area was lacking and what they could do to move forward.


What does pampering mean to you? Everyone’s going to have their own list. The important thing here is to recognize there is a difference for you. My job is to challenge that difference.

My idea of pampering includes a full day at the spa; a weekend away without the kids; buying the top shelf bottle for a special occasion. It’s generally indulging in your comfort of choice. 

Pampering is a great way to reward yourself for a job well done. 

My Nana told me, it’s essential to know for yourself the difference between a need and a want. Pampering falls squarely into the want category.


On the other hand, Self-care falls into the need category. All too often, self-care is confused with pampering. That was the case with my three clients who were suffering.

Self-care is about investing in your most valuable asset – you. And good self-care focuses on managing all areas of energy: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. 

You could say self-care is preventative care. If you do these things as part of your everyday life, it will help you to manage the different types of pain that are a part of life. If you don’t, you could actually cause more pain and suffering for yourself.

Self-care includes:

  • Eating healthy foods; 
  • Getting regular exercise; 
  • The right amount of sleep;
  • Getting quality sleep;
  • Laughing, time for fun;
  • Investing in relationships;
  • Taking time for spiritual practice;
  • Having interests and hobbies outside of work.


If self-care is preventative care, self-compassion is reactive care. Self-compassion is needed in moments of suffering. It’s the same care you would give to a loved one who is suffering a loss, recovery from an injury, or an existential crisis. Why would you not do the same for yourself?

Nowhere in my university studies did we cover self-compassion. The business programs certainly didn’t include it, and the organizational development program focused more on outward compassion. It wasn’t until I began my own business that I learned the need for self-compassion.

As a one-person business, you’ll need to be your own best friend. You must be self-aware. And if you want to be successful, it’s crucial to invest in your personal care and maintenance just as you would an expensive piece of equipment.

Investing in your own care includes all three levels of care: pampering, self-care, self-compassion. 

My challenge to you:

If you don’t have a pampering reward associated with your big goals, identify one.

If you do not have healthy self-care habits, develop them.

If you need to strengthen self-compassion, copy the following meditation, and keep it with you always. Repeat it to yourself whenever you are in a moment of suffering.

“This is a moment of suffering.

Suffering is a part of life.

May I be kind to myself at this moment.

May I give myself the compassion that I need.”

~Dr. Kristin Neff

Important note: If you are in despair, please seek professional help. You do not need to face this alone. 

Your work is important. We need your work in the world. We need you to be happy and healthy to get your work, your ideas out of your head and into the world.