Self-compassion (SC) involves being kind to oneself when confronting personal inadequacies or situational difficulties, framing the imperfection of life in terms of common humanity, and being mindful of negative emotions so that one neither suppresses nor ruminates on them. The current study explored whether being self-compassionate is linked to healthier romantic relationship behavior, such as being more caring and supportive rather than controlling or verbally aggressive with partners. A total of 104 couples participated in the study, with self-reported SC levels being associated with partner reports of relationship behavior. Results indicated that self-compassionate individuals displayed more positive relationship behavior than those who lacked SC. SC was also a stronger predictor of positive relationship behavior than trait self-esteem (SE) or attachment style. Finally, partners were able to accurately report on each other’s SC levels, suggesting that SC is an observable trait.
The relationship between mindfulness and self-compassion is explored in the health care literature, with a corollary emphasis on reducing stress in health care workers and providing compassionate patient care. Health care professionals are particularly vulnerable to stress overload and compassion fatigue due to an emotionally exhausting environment. Compassion fatigue among caregivers in turn has been associated with less effective delivery of care. Having compassion for others entails self-compassion. In Kristin Neff’s research, self-compassion includes self-kindness, a sense of common humanity, and mindfulness. Both mindfulness and self-compassion involve promoting an attitude of curiosity and nonjudgment towards one’s experiences. Research suggests that mindfulness interventions, particularly those with an added lovingkindness component, have the potential to increase self-compassion among health care workers. Enhancing focus on developing self-compassion using MBSR and other mindfulness interventions for health care workers holds promise for reducing perceived stress and increasing effectiveness of clinical care.