Self-Compassion: Conceptualizations, Correlates, & Interventions

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Within American psychology, there has been a recent surge of interest in self-compassion, a construct from Buddhist thought. Self-compassion entails: (a) being kind and understanding toward oneself in times of pain or failure, (b) perceiving one's own suffering as part of a larger human experience, and (c) holding painful feelings and thoughts in mindful awareness. In this article we review findings from personality, social, and clinical psychology related to self-compassion. First, we define self-compassion and distinguish it from other self-constructs such as self-esteem, self-pity, and self-criticism. Next, we review empirical work on the correlates of self-compassion, demonstrating that self-compassion has consistently been found to be related to well-being. These findings support the call for interventions that can raise self-compassion. We then review the theory and empirical support behind current interventions that could enhance self-compassion including compassionate mind training (CMT), imagery work, the gestalt two-chair technique, mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT). Directions for future research are also discussed.

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