Self-Compassion: A Potential Shield Against Extreme Self-Reliance?
Can self-compassion protect young adults from the pitfalls of self-reliance? Emerging adults undergo a process of exploring their identities and establishing significant relationships that is vulnerable to stressors. Extreme self-reliance exacerbates this because of a lack of access to emotional support, threatening their well-being. Self-compassion facilitates emotional regulation and enhanced coping, which may protect young adults’ well-being from the consequences of self-reliance. We explored (a) the relationships among self-reliance, self-compassion and its elements (i.e., self-kindness, self-judgment, mindfulness, over-identification, common humanity, and isolation), and well-being, and (b) the potential of self-compassion as either a buffer or a mediator of the relationship between self-reliance and well-being. At an urban Midwestern public university, we recruited 208 young adults aged between 18 and 30 years (M = 21.94, SD = 3.49) with diverse backgrounds. We found that self-reliance, self-judgment, over-identification, and isolation were moderately-to-strongly negatively correlated with well-being, and that self-kindness, mindfulness, and common humanity were moderately-to-strongly (i.e., .30 < r < .63) positively correlated with well-being. Although we found no evidence that self-compassion acts as a buffer, we found good correlational evidence via path analysis that it acts as a mediator. Our findings suggest that the potential threat of extreme self-reliance to young adults’ well-being may be partially explained by self-kindness, mindfulness, and isolation.
KeywordsSelf-reliance Self-compassion Well-being Protective factor Buffering Moderation Mediation
- Balzarotti, S., Biassoni, F., Villani, D., Prunas, A., & Velotti, P. (2016). Individual differences in cognitive emotion regulation: Implications for subjective and psychological well-being. Journal of Happiness Studies, 17(1), 125–143. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-014-9587-3.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Bowlby, J. (1988). A secure base: Parent–child attachment and healthy human development. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
- Burns, S. M., & Mahalik, J. R. (2006). Physical health, self-reliance, and emotional control as moderators of the relationship between locus of control and mental health among men treated for prostate cancer. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 29(6), 561–572. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10865-006-9076-1.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Center for Collegiate Mental Health. (2016). 2016 annual report. Retrieved from https://sites.psu.edu/ccmh/files/2017/01/2016-Annual-Report-FINAL_2016_01_09-1gc2hj6.pdf.
- Crossby, A. E., Han, B., Ortega, L. A. G., Parks, S. E., & Gfroener, J. (2011). Suicidal thoughts and behaviors among adults aged ≥ 18 years: United States, 2008-2009. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/pdf/ss/ss6013.pdf.
- Erikson, E. H. (1963). Youth: Change and challenge. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
- Folkman, S., Lazarus, R. S., Dunkel-Schetter, C., DeLongis, A., & Gruen, R. J. (1986). Dynamics of a stressful encounter: Cognitive appraisal, coping, and encounter outcomes. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 50(5), 992–1003. https://doi.org/10.1037//0022-3514-50.5.992.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Furstenberg, F. F., Kennedy, S., McCloyd, V. C., Rumbaut, R. G., & Settersten, R. A. (2003). Between adolescence and adulthood: Expectations about the timing of adulthood (No. 1). Research network working paper. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/237234266_Between_Adolescence_and_Adulthood_Expectations_about_the_Timing_of_Adulthood.
- Gunnell, K. E., Mosewich, A. D., McEwen, C. E., Eklund, R. C., & Crocker, P. R. E. (2017). Don’t be so hard on yourself! Changes in self-compassion during the first year of university are associated with changes in well-being. Personality and Individual Differences, 107, 43–48. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2016.11.032.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Jakupcak, M., Blais, R. K., Grossbard, J., Garcia, H., & Okiishi, J. (2014). “Toughness” in association with mental health symptoms among Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans seeking Veterans Affairs health care. Psychology of Men and Masculinity, 15(1), 100–104. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0031508.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Jennings, K. S., Cheung, J. H., Britt, T. W., Goguen, K. N., Jeffirs, S. M., Peasley, A. L., et al. (2015). How are perceived stigma, self-stigma, and self-reliance related to treatment-seeking? A three-path model. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal, 38(2), 109–116. https://doi.org/10.1037/prj0000138.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Matthews, D., Hammond, W. P., Nuru-Jeter, A., Cole-Lewis, Y., & Melvin, T. (2013). Racial discrimination and depressive symptoms among African-American men: The mediating and moderating roles of masculine self-reliance and John Henryism. Psychology of Men & Masculinity, 14(1), 35–46. https://doi.org/10.1007/a0028436.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Munsey, C. (2006). Emerging adults: The in-between age. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/monitor/jun06/emerging.aspx.
- Oxford Dictionaries. (2014). Oxford dictionaries: Language matters. Retrieved from http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/us/.
- Pottick, K. J., Bilder, S., Stoep, A. V., Warner, L. A., & Alvarez, M. F. (2008). US Patterns of mental health services utilization for transition-age youth and young adults. The Journal of Behavioral Health Services & Research, 35(4), 373–389. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11414-007-9080-4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Ryan, R. M., La Guardia, J. G., Solky-Butzel, J. S., Chirkov, V., & Kim, Y. (2005). On the interpersonal regulation of emotions: Emotional reliance across gender, relationships, and cultures. Personal Relationships, 12(1), 145–163. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1350-4126.2005.00106.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Samuels, G. M., & Pryce, J. M. (2008). “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”: Survivalist self-reliance as resilience and risk among young adults aging out of foster care. Children and Youth Services Review, 30(10), 1198–1210. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.childyouth.2008.03.005.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Seifert, T. A. (2005). The Ryff Scales of psychological well-being. Retrieved from http://www.liberalarts.wabash.edu/ryff-scales/.
- Smith, A. (2014). What’s wrong with being independent? Retrieved from http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/contemporary-psychoanalysis-in-action/201409/whats-wrong-being-independent.
- Thomson, K. C., Schonert-Reichl, K. A., & Oberle, E. (2015). Optimism in early adolescence: Relations to individual characteristics and ecological assets in families, schools, and neighborhoods. Journal of Happiness Studies, 16(4), 889–913. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-014-9539-y.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Van Dam, N. T., Sheppard, S. C., Forsyth, J. P., & Earleywine, M. (2011). Self-compassion is a better predictor than mindfulness of symptom severity and quality of life in mixed anxiety and depression. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 25(1), 123–130. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.janxdis.2010.08.011.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- World Health Organization, WHO. (2016). World health statistics 2016: Monitoring health for the SDGs, sustainable developmental goals. Retrieved from http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/206498/1/9789241565264_eng.pdf.