Self-Compassion: A Potential Path to Adolescent Resilience and Positive Exploration
- 571 Downloads
The adolescent developmental stage is characterized by multiple transitions, both physiological and environmental, and physical, cognitive and socioemotional growth that often leads to both challenges and opportunities. Developing coping strategies to contend with these challenges, such as strengthening resilience and being open to new experiences, can potentially facilitate traversing this developmental period with greater ease. Although previous research has supported the premise that self-compassion buffers the negative effects of these emotional challenges, little research to date has examined the link between strengths-based attributes such as resilience and curiosity/exploration (i.e., being open to and embracing new experiences) and self-compassion, and whether age or gender moderates these relationships. As such, the purpose of this study was to explore these relationships among a large adolescent sample. Results of 786 public school adolescents and 271 private school adolescents (68% white, 65% female, Mage = 15.6) who responded to questions in an online survey indicated that self-compassion was positively associated with both curiosity/exploration and resilience, and gender moderated the relationship between self-compassion and resilience such that this association was stronger among males than females. Age did not moderate the relationship between self-compassion and either resilience or curiosity/exploration, indicating that self-compassion is associated with both resilience and curiosity/exploration at all ages across adolescence. Implications are that interventions that cultivate self-compassion among adolescents may strengthen resilience and curiosity/exploration, offering new and healthy ways to cope with these challenges leading to improved emotional well-being.
This study was funded in part by North Carolina Translational and Clinical Research Institute and by the NIH/NCCIH T32AT003378 and NIH/NCCIH T32AT003378-04.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of Interest
Dr. Bluth declares that she is the co-creator of Making Friends with Yourself: A Mindful Self-Compassion Program for Teens and Young Adults. The remaining authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
- Bethell, C. D., Solloway, M. R., Guinosso, S., Hassink, S., Srivastav, A., Ford, D., & Simpson, L. A. (2017). Prioritizing possibilities for child and family health: an agenda to address adverse childhood experiences and foster the social and emotional roots of well-being in pediatrics. Academic Pediatrics, 17(7S), S36–S50. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.acap.2017.06.002.PubMedGoogle Scholar
- Boonlue, T., Briggs, P., & Sillence, E. (2016). Self-compassion, psychological resilience and social media use in Thai students. Paper presented at the Proceedings of the 30th International BCS Human Computer Interaction Conference: Fusion!Google Scholar
- Breines, J. G., McInnis, C. M., Kuras, Y. I., Thoma, M. V., Gianferante, D., & Hanlin, L., et al. (2015). Self-compassionate young adults show lower salivary alpha-amylase responses to repeated psychosocial stress. Self and Identity, 14(4), 390–402. https://doi.org/10.1080/15298868.2015.1005659.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Catalano, R. F., Berglund, M. L., Ryan, J. A. M., Lonczak, H. S., & Hawkins, J. D. (2004). Positive youth development in the United States: Research findings on evaluations of positive youth development programs. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 591(1), 98–124.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Copeland, W., Shanahan, L., Costello, E. J., SpringerAmpamp; Angold, A. (2011). Cumulative prevalence of psychiatric disorders by young adulthood: a prospective cohort analysis from the Great Smoky Mountains Study. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 50(3), 252–261.PubMedPubMedCentralCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Gravetter, F., & Wallnau, L. (2014). Essentials of statistics for the behavioral sciences. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.Google Scholar
- Kashdan, T. B., Gallagher, M. W., Silvia, P. J., Winterstein, B. P., Breen, W. E., Terhar, D., & Steger, M. F. (2009). The curiosity and exploration inventory-II: development, factor structure, and psychometrics. Journal of Research in Personality, 43(6), 987–998.PubMedPubMedCentralCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Leary, M. R., Tate, E. B., Adams, C. E., Allen, A. B., & Hancock, J. (2007). Self-compassion and reactions to unpleasant self-relevant events: the implications of treating oneself kindly. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 92(5), 887–904. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-35126.96.36.1997.PubMedGoogle Scholar
- Maciejewski, D. F., van Lier, P. A. C., Neumann, A., Van der Giessen, D., Branje, S. J. T., Meeus, W. H. J., & Koot, H. M. (2014). The development of adolescent generalized anxiety and depressive symptoms in the context of adolescent mood variability and parent-adolescent negative interactions. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 42(4), 515–526.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Marsh, I. C., Chan, S. W. Y. & MacBeth, A. (2017). Self-compassion and psychological distress in adolescents—a meta-analysis. Mindfulness. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-017-0850-7.
- Marshall, S. L., Parker, P. D., Ciarrochi, J., Sahdra, B., Jackson, C. J., & Heaven, P. C. L. (2014). Self-compassion protects against the negative effects of low self-esteem: a longitudinal study in a large adolescent sample. Journal of Personality and Individual Differences, 74, 116–121.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Masten, A. S. (2007). Competence, resilience, and development in adolescence: Clues for prevention science. In D. Romer and E. F. Walker (Eds.), Adolescent psychopathology and the developing brain: Integrating brain and prevention science, (pp. 31–52). New York: Oxford Scholarship Online.Google Scholar
- Mojtabai, R., Olfson, M., & Han, B. (2016). National trends in the prevalence and treatment of depression in adolescents and young adults. Pediatrics, e20161878.Google Scholar
- Murphey, D., Barry, M., & Vaughn, B. (2013). Positive mental health: resilience. Adolescent Health Highlight 3, 1–6.Google Scholar
- Neff, K., & Germer, C. (2012). A pilot study and randomized controlled trial of the mindful self-compassion program. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 1, 1–17.Google Scholar
- Roeser, R., & Pinela, C. (2014). Mindfulness and compassion training in adolescence: a developmental contemplative science perspective. New Directions for Youth Development, 142, 9–30.Google Scholar
- Siegel, D. J. (2015). Brainstorm: the power and purpose of the teenage brain: Penguin, New York, NY.Google Scholar
- Simon, T. (2017). Suicide rates*, for teens aged 15–19 years, by sex—United States, 1975–2015.Google Scholar
- Trochim, W. M., & Donnelly, J. P. (2006). The Research Methods Knowledge Base. 3rd edn. Cincinnati, OH: Atomic Dog.Google Scholar
- Warren, R., Smeets, E., & Neff, K. (2016). Self-criticism and self-compassion: risk and resilience. Current Psychiatry, 15(12), 18–21. 24-28, 32.Google Scholar
- Zessin, U., Dickhäuser, O., & Garbade, S. (2015). The relationship between self‐compassion and well‐being: a meta‐analysis. Applied Psychology: Health and Well‐Being, 7(3), 340–364.Google Scholar
- Zimmerman, M. A., Stoddard, S. A., Eisman, A. B., Caldwell, C. H., Aiyer, S. M., & Miller, A. (2013). Adolescent resilience: promotive factors that inform prevention. Child Development Perspective, 7(4). https://doi.org/10.1111/cdep.12042