16 May Happiness and self-esteem?
Treating oneself kindly when things go badly could be a key to weathering life’s challenges, researchers say.
Why do some people roll with life’s punches, facing failures and problems with grace, while others dwell on calamities, criticize themselves and exaggerate problems?
The answer, according to researchers from Duke and Wake Forest universities, may be self-compassion — the ability to treat oneself kindly when things go badly. The results of their research, one of the first major investigations of self-compassion, were published in the May 2007 issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
“Life’s tough enough with little things that happen. Self-compassion helps to eliminate a lot of the anger, depression and pain we experience when things go badly for us,” said Mark R. Leary, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke and lead author of the paper, which includes five peer-reviewed studies.
The other authors are Eleanor B. Tate and Ashley Batts Allen of Duke; Jessica Hancock of Wake Forest University; and Claire E. Adams, formerly of Wake Forest University and now of Louisiana State University.
“Rather than focusing on changing people’s self-evaluations, as many cognitive-behavioral approaches do, self-compassion changes people’s relationship to their self-evaluations,” Leary said. ‘self-compassion helps people not to add a layer of self-recrimination on top of whatever bad things happen to them. If people learn only to feel better about themselves but continue to beat themselves up when they fail or make mistakes, they will be unable to cope nondefensively with their difficulties.”
Self-compassion involves three components. They are self-kindness (being kind and understanding toward oneself rather than self-critical); common humanity (viewing one’s negative experiences as a normal part of the human condition); and mindful acceptance (having mindful equanimity rather than over-identifying with painful thoughts and feelings).
To read more about this fascinating happiness research – click here.