In the study, led by David Sbarra and published in Psychological Science, participants who had recently separated from their spouses were recorded talking for four minutes in a stream-of-consciousness format about the separation. Then four judges rated the extent to which these statements included evidence of self-compassion, which involves treating yourself with kindness and understanding rather than beating yourself up when things go wrong.
For example, one participant who received a high self-compassion score said the following “. . . it is just something that... happens these days, and I guess it is happening more often than not these days so... that is what the situation is. . . and you tell yourself you’re not the only person to experience this.” This statement expresses a sense of common humanity, or recognition that suffering is part of the human experience, which is considered a fundamental part of self-compassion.
Another participant, who received a low self-compassion score, said: “I don’t know how I managed to do this. It was all my fault, I pushed him away for some reason. I needed him so much, still need him. . . . What did I do? I know I did it all wrong.” In contrast to the first statement, this one includes a high degree of self-judgment, with no evidence of self-kindness. It's painful to read, and also probably very painful to believe.
self-esteem, attachment style, depression, and relationship length. Self-compassion was a unique predictor of adjustment, suggesting that it represents a critical part of the recovery process.
Although self-compassion was assessed as a stable trait rather than trained, the researchers suggest that actively learning to be more self-compassionate might help people better cope with romantic break-ups. Increasing self-compassion is not an easy task, but some studies have shown that loving-kindness meditation and mindfulness-based interventions can help. Also see my previous post on this topic for more ideas.
Sbarra, D., Smith, H., & Mehl, M. (2012). When Leaving Your Ex, Love Yourself: Observational Ratings of Self-Compassion Predict the Course of Emotional Recovery Following Marital Separation Psychological Science, 23 (3), 261-269 DOI: 10.1177/0956797611429466