Love, Grace, and Self-Compassion

Two Lovers in ArlesPeople have both love and loathing for this day, say consumer researchers. Given those mixed feelings, this might be a good time to reflect upon the love, grace, and self-compassion we direct inwardly. In this age of mindfulness, pop psychology tells us that we need self-compassion to function well in a challenging environment.

How seriously should we take these admonitions?

Myths of Self-Compassion

Kristin Neff is a name you will see attached to a great deal of research on self-compassion. She says that five myths get in the way of understanding self-compassion. It’s not about self-pity. Nor does it promote weakness, complacency, or narcissism. Perhaps most important, self-compassion has nothing to do with selfishness.

In fact, self-compassion is all about acknowledging our imperfect humanity – something we share with everyone around us. It is a practice of extending compassion to yourself in the face of a feeling of inadequacy, failure, or suffering.

Further, a meta-analysis of RCTs tells us self-compassion is indeed something that clinical care can promote. It can equip a person with healthier patterns for thinking about and adapting to challenges. It can, in fact, be helpful in eating disorders and in coping with obesity.

A Connection to Self Stigma

Knowing that interventions can promote self-compassion is important because of the relationship between self-stigma and self-compassion. Erin Fekete, Rose Herndier, and Alison Sander studied this relationship and found an association between self-compassion and lower levels of internalized weight stigma. Further, they found it was this relationship that explains the value of self-compassion for dealing with maladaptive eating behaviors. More self-compassion predicts less self-stigma, which in turn leads to less disordered eating.

Calling a Truce

Perhaps this is anecdotal, but it does seem that people are putting a lot of energy into beating up on each other and, we suspect, on themselves. Thus a truce might be in order. We can start by granting ourselves a bit of love, grace, and self-compassion. This is not about papering over problems or puffing ourselves up. It’s about equipping ourselves to persevere and extend similar grace to the people who fill our lives.

Give it a try.

Click here and here for more on self-compassion, here for the meta-analysis of interventions, and here for the research from Fekete et al.

Two Lovers in Arles, painting by Vincent van Gogh / WikiArt

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February 14, 2022

One Response to “Love, Grace, and Self-Compassion”

  1. February 14, 2022 at 9:20 am, Angie Golden said:

    Great post. Sounds like more than pop psychology, sounds like good clinical and self practice with some evidence to back us up! Resilience combined with self compassion and grace sound like a great prescription for this Valentines Day!