Based on research by K. D. Neff & P. McGehee (2010), written by Mara Rowcliffe, BS.
Am I worthy? What do other people think of me? Am I attractive? Will I “fit in?”
These are the types of questions many people ask themselves as they develop their own identity. While self-reflection and comparing ourselves to others are important parts of growth, judging ourselves negatively may lead to mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, and even suicide. But do we need to be taught self-kindness? Would recognizing that imperfection is a shared aspect of the human experience influence our sense of well-being?
A recent psychology research study examined both adolescents and college students to determine how self-kindness contributes to mental health. They measured participants’ levels of self-compassion, depression, anxiety, and various levels of social and family support. Participants who displayed more self-compassion reported less depression and anxiety as well as greater feelings of social connectedness. Participants with more self-compassion had greater levels of maternal support, family closeness and family harmony.
The ability to handle our inadequacies, failures, and rejections with self-understanding, caring, and concern rather than with harsh self-judgment and hopelessness promotes self-compassion in both adolescents and college students.
Kick those self-critical thoughts to the curb and have some self-compassion!
Neff, K. D., & McGehee, P. (2010). Self-compassion and psychological resilience among adolescents and young adults. Self and identity, 9(3), 225-240.