mindful self-compassion research

Research: Self-Compassion Applied to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB)

Does self-compassion buffer against the adverse effects of racial discrimination and is it protective among sexual-and gender-minority adolescents across racial groups? These are questions researchers have set out to answer in the articles below.

 

Self-compassion appears to be a resource for people experiencing racial discrimination or any other form of injustice due to their race, gender identity or sexual orientation to draw on to support their own wellbeing. Tender self-compassion can provide resilience when dealing with the emotional trauma caused by discrimination and fierce self-compassion can provide the sense of empowerment needed to fight discrimination. It should always be remembered that discrimination happens at a systemic level, and that compassion must be harnessed at the individual and societal to enact change. 


Self-compassion and Social Connectedness Buffering Racial Discrimination on Depression Among Asian Americans.
By Liu et al. (2020)

This study examined the role of three elements of self-compassion as measured by the Self-Compassion Scale (self-kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness)  as resources that can buffer against the impact of racial discrimination on depression. The study also examined the role of social connectedness as a buffer. Previous studies have shown racial discrimination to have negative mental health outcomes among racial/ethnic minorities in the US. The results of this study showed that when both self-kindness and social connectedness were present, they together buffered against the impact of racial discrimination on depression among Asian American college students. (Note that in prior research the primary link between self-compassion and depression has been found to be the reduced self-judgment, isolation and overidentification associated with this mindset, so this study was limited in its ability to assess the link between self-compassion, racial discrimination and depression.) Read the article here.



Is Self-compassion Protective Among Sexual-and Sender-minority Adolescents Across Racial Groups?
By Vigna, Poehlmann-Tynan, & Koenig, (2020)

This study examines the impact of self-compassion (as measured by a total score on the Self-Compassion Scale) on stress, anxiety, depression, and suicidality among sexual- and/or gender-minority youth. This group of youth often experience suicidality, depression, and anxiety that are two to three times greater than those of their sexual- and gender-majority peers. In prior research, the authors have shown that higher levels of self-compassion are linked to fewer adverse effects of victimization on mental health. In the current study the authors set out to examine if there were any differences in the effectiveness of self-compassion as a buffer across racial groups among sexual- and/or gender-minority youth. The study found that white youth reported higher rates of peer victimization and anxiety whereas black youth reported higher rates of bias-based bullying and structural discrimination. The study did, however, not find any difference in the effects of self-compassion as a buffer against victimization across racial groups. In the study, all identity groups experienced lower rates of mental health concerns when they reported higher levels of self-compassion. Read the article here.



Racial Discrimination, Self-compassion, and Mental Health: the Moderating Role of Self-judgment
By Browne et al. (2022)

This study attempted to examine whether the various elements of self-compassion as measured by the Self-Compassion Scale (self-kindness, mindfulness, common humanity, self-judgment, over-identification, and isolation) differentially buffered against, or exacerbated, negative mental health outcomes in Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) college students experiencing racial discrimination. 100 college students from diverse ethnic backgrounds participated in this study. To measure mental health outcomes this study used The Brief Symptom Inventory, which consists of 18 self-reported items intended to screen for psychiatric disorders and psychological distress, consisting of three 6-item subscales: somatization, depression, and anxiety. The results showed that experience of discrimination with both somatic and anxiety symptoms was stronger for individuals who endorsed higher self-judgment. The study also showed that common humanity reduced symptoms of anxiety, depression, and somatic symptoms and that self-kindness reduced symptoms of depression and somatic symptoms. Read the article here.

References

Browne, R. K., Duarte, B. A., Miller, A. N., Schwartz, S. E., & LoPresti, J. (2022). Racial Discrimination, Self-compassion, and Mental Health: the Moderating Role of Self-judgment. Mindfulness, 13(8), 1994-2006.

Liu, S., Li, C. I., Wang, C., Wei, M., & Ko, S. (2020). Self-compassion and social connectedness buffering racial discrimination on depression among Asian Americans. Mindfulness, 11(3), 672-682.

Vigna, A. J., Poehlmann-Tynan, J., & Koenig, B. W. (2020). Is self-compassion protective among sexual-and gender-minority adolescents across racial groups?. Mindfulness, 11(3), 800-815.

 

Cultivation a Multicultural Lens in the Compassion Classroom​
8-Week Course on DEIB in the Classroom

Mondays October 31st – December 19th, 2022, 9 AM – 11 AM PT

This is a Live Online Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) course for mindfulness and compassion teachers. Come develop your anti-oppressive lens, learn ways to help co-create a more welcoming and inclusive experience for your participants, and advance more skillful responses when cross-cultural issues, challenges, microaggressions, and communication ruptures arise in teaching mindfulness and compassion.

Led by CMSC Director of DEIB and certified MSC Teacher Sydney Spears and Tracy Ochester, Coordinator of Midwest Alliance of Mindfulness and Certified MBCT Teacher, with guest presenters Mel Wraight, Michael Yellow Bird, Kristin Neff, Chris Germer, and Mushim Patricia Ikeda. Optional 15-20 minute post-session discussion and/or Q&A after each class.

Self-Compassion And Quality Of Life Research

Self-compassion has been scientifically proven to improve our quality of life in so many ways. Below you will find the latest research showing how self-compassion supports wellbeing and sleep quality, and how it decreases anxiety, depression, self-criticism, and the feeling of loneliness. 

Self-Compassion As A Predictor Of Wellbeing (Pyszkowska & Rönnlund, 2021)
This study shows self-compassion to be strongly related to wellbeing measured as quality of life and satisfaction with life. To better understand the relationship between self-compassion and wellbeing, the researchers examined how self-compassion influenced participants’ relationship with the past and the present. From previous research we know that a person’s mood, behavior and morale depends on their current psychological view of the past, present and future. In this study the researchers were able to show self-compassion to support a positive view of the past and lessen a negative view of the present. These findings in turn predicted an increase in wellbeing. Read more…

The Impact Of Self-Compassion On Anxiety And Depression (Pérez-Aranda et al 2021)
In a study with 860 participants from Spain, Pérez-Aranda and his team found self-compassion to significantly reduce both anxiety and depression. Furthermore, the researchers found that the relationship between self-compassion and depression was mediated by resilience. This means that persons higher in self-compassion were also more resilient, which in turn explained the lower levels of depression. Read more…

Self-Compassion And Quality Of Sleep (Semenchuk, Onchulenko & Strachan, 2021)
We all know how important a good night’s sleep is for our overall wellbeing.To confirm the importance of sleep, research shows sleep to influence our mental, emotional and physical health, as well as our quality of life (Mukherjee et al., 2015). In this study, Semenchuk, Onchulenko and Strachan (2021) studied 193 university students and showed self-compassion to support the quality of sleep. The researchers were also able to show that self-compassion reduces self-blame, which in turn improves the quality of sleep. This finding suggests that the more self-compassionate students are, the less they rely on self-blame regulation strategies, which support a better quality of sleep. Read more…

Effectiveness Of Self-Compassion For Reducing Self-Criticism (Wakelin, Perman, Simonds, 2022)
In this review article the researchers evaluated the combined results of 19 self-compassion studies on self-criticism. Self-criticism is the process of negative self-evaluation. The results of this review show that practicing self-compassion significantly reduces self-criticism. The results also show that the longer the self-compassion practice time is, the more self-criticism will be reduced. Read more..

Self-Compassion Buffers Against The Feeling Of Loneliness (Borawski & Nowak, 2022)
Research shows that one of the key predictors of loneliness is the attitude we have towards ourselves. In this study the researchers found self-compassion to significantly reduce feelings of loneliness. This study also shows that individuals high in self-compassion are less sensitive to rejection. Rejection sensitivity is the anxious expectation of and increased readiness to respond to social rejection. Borawski and Nowak (2022) explain that it is partly through decreasing rejection sensitivity that individuals high in self-compassion experience less loneliness. Read more…

All these studies show how self-compassion can help us improve our day-to-day quality of life. To learn these skills, join Kristen Neff and Chris Germer in the upcoming Self-Compassion Core Skills Workshop.

Live Online MSC Core Skills Workshop with Chris Germer, Ph.D. & Kristin Neff, Ph.D.
August 10, 12, 17, and 19, 2022 from 8 – 11 am PT 

In this MSC Core Skills Workshop, you’ll learn techniques and practices to bring self-compassion into your daily life. Presented by Chris Germer and Kristin Neff, this 4-session workshop is open to everyone, whether you’re new to MSC or have some experience. Registration closes on August 9th. Learn more or sign up here.