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Self-Compassion Clearly Delivers Resiliency 

Self-Compassion Clearly Delivers Resiliency 


A scholarly apologetics for the use of mindful practices in the general population and healthcare. 

By Dr. Kim ByrdRider, PT 


Be Resilient 

Self-Compassion in Health Care 


What is self-compassion? 

According to psychology professor Dr. Kristin Neff, self-compassion is “extending compassion to one’s self in instances of perceived inadequacy, failure, or general suffering. Three main components: (a) self-kindness- being kind and understanding towards oneself in instances of pain or failure rather than being harshly self-critical, (b) common humanity-perceiving one’s experiences as part of the larger human experience rather than seeing them as a separating and isolating and (c) mindfulness- holding painful thoughts and feelings in balanced awareness rather than over-identifying with them” (Neff, 2003). 






What does Self-compassion do? 

  1. Increases: self-esteem, successful aging, general well-being, life satisfaction, functioning, resilience and emotion regulation. 

  1. Decreases: depression, fear of failure, anxiousness, fear of rejection, negative affect, self-pity, catastrophizing, resignation, emotional problems and PTSD symptom severity. 

(Allen & Leary, 2010; Leary, Tate, Adams, Allen, & Hancock, 2007; Neff, 2003b; Neff, Kirkpatrick, & Rude, 2007; Scolglio, 2015) 


Why do healthcare patients need to practice self-compassion? 

Patient Problems: 

  • People often ignore doctors’ recommendations, fume about the inconvenience of being incapacitated, and blame themselves for the illness or injury (Putnam, Finney, Barkley, & Bonner, 1994). 

  • People’s attention is derailed by judgmental, defensive, or otherwise non-self-compassionate thoughts (Greeson & Brantley, 2009; Shapiro & Schwartz, 1999). 


What are the advantages for healthcare workers? 

Healthcare worker issues in the research literature: 

  • Identification of the erosion of compassion as a significant factor of a decrease in patient care in recent healthcare inquiries (American Medical Association, 2001; Institute of Medicine,2004; Francis, 2013; MacLean, 2014; Willis, 2015). 

  • Healthcare worker burnout 


Healthcare worker recommendations in research literature… 

  • Education: self-compassion, emotional intelligence, and mindfulness training should be incorporated into medical students’ curricula and programs that promote healthcare providers’ well-being (Patsiopoulos & Buchanan, 2011; Senyuva et al., 2014; Olson et al., 2015; Kemper et al., 2015; Beaumont et al.,2016). 

Self-compassion practices for the healthcare workers and care givers: findings suggest that an 8-week yoga and compassion meditation program can improve the quality of life, vitality, attention, and self-compassion of caregivers (Marcelo, 2017) 



  • Solution.Self-compassion + Emotion-regulation (which increases with increased self-compassion) = Self-Regulation  Self-regulation= Resilience 

(Scolglio, 2015) 


Defining terms: 

  1. Self-Compassion: self-kindness, common humanity and mindfulness 


  1. Links one to greater knowledge and clarity about one’s own limitations because individuals do not have to hide their shortcomings from themselves in order to maintain a positive self-image. Unlike self-esteem, self-compassion is not contingent on performance evaluations, clarity and accuracy of self-appraisals (Baumeister, Heatherton, & Tice, 1993). 

  2. Maybe especially useful as a means of countering negative self-attitudes in self-concept domains where self-improvement is difficult or impossible (Scolglio, 2015). 

Self-compassion may facilitate healthy behavior by helping people to monitor their health goals with less distraction and defensiveness, consider their situation with equanimity, disengage from goals that are not in their best interests, seek medical help when needed, adhere to treatment recommendations, and regulate negative affect (Baumeister, Bratslavsky, Muraven, & Tice, 1998).


  1. Emotion regulation 

  • People who are high in self-compassion do not suppress their emotional reactions. They experience negative events in a more mindful, less reactive manner. Because they experience less negative affect, they do not deplete self-regulatory resources trying to manage their emotions. As a result, their resources are available for other self-regulatory tasks, including adhering to medical regimens, instituting positive behavioral changes, or monitoring their progress toward health goals (Baumeister, Bratslavsky, Muraven, & Tice, 1998; Schmeichel, 2007, Neff et al., 2007). 

  • Self-compassion should also aid in emotional regulation when dealing with disease, illness, and injury (Baumeister, 1996). 

Self-compassion is a useful emotional regulation strategy, in which painful or distressing feelings are not avoided but are instead held in awareness with kindness, understanding, and a sense of shared humanity. Thus, negative emotions are transformed into a more positive feeling state, allowing for clearer apprehension of one’s immediate situation. This allows one to adopt actions that change oneself and/or the environment in appropriate and effective ways (Folkman & Moskowitz, 2000; Isen, 2000). 


  1. Self-Regulation (self-compassion + emotion-regulation) produces… 

  • More effective selection of health goals, goal progress monitoring, engagement in behaviors to reach their goals, including seeking medical treatment and adhering to treatment recommendations (Baumeister, 1996). 

  • Elimination of impediments that can arise when people’s attention is derailed by judgmental, defensive, or otherwise non-self-compassionate thoughts. (Greeson & Brantley, 2009; Shapiro & Schwartz, 1999). 



Note:  Increasing Self-esteem DOES NOT increase Self-regulation: 

  1. Attempts to raise self-esteem are often ineffective in general (Swann, 1990). 

  1. Boosting individuals’ self-esteem may inadvertently foster self-centeredness and a sense of superiority (Damon, 1995). Raising self-esteem is often attempted by giving individuals indiscriminate praise or encouraging positive self-affirmations (Hewitt, 1998). 

  1. Unrealistic praise is also dangerous in that it does not acknowledge that individuals may have patterns of behavior that need to be changed because they are unproductive, unhealthy or harmful (Damon, 1995). High self-esteem appears to be linked to narcissistic tendencies, egoistic illusions, adopting inappropriate goals that are beyond performance capabilities and self-regulation failure (Baumeister, Heatherton, & Tice, 1993). 

  1. Even though self-esteem does not improve self-regulation, self-compassion can improve self-esteem (Baumeister, Heatherton, & Tice, 1993). 

  • Successful self-regulation requires people to attend to and evaluate their behavior and health on an ongoing basis. Mindfulness (one of the three components of self-compassion) identified by Neff (2003b), may play a role in the attentional component of self-regulation (Shapiro & Schwartz, 1999). People who are mindful pay attention to their experiences in a non-judgmental, and accepting manner (Terry, 2011). Mindfulness qualities promote self-regulation. (Greeson & Brantley, 2009; Shapiro & Schwartz, 1999). 


  1. Resilience 

  • The capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness. 

  • Resilience requires self-regulation. 


How do people become self-compassionate? 


For Self-compassion practices go to Firm Water









I'm Dr. Kim
Byrd-Rider, PT

In our Soul School at Firm Water Road, we are dedicated to helping people create healthy habits that can last a lifetime. Our program combines various modalities, including positive psychology, mystics, physics, and lifestyle medicine, to help our clients achieve optimal wellness. We specialize in Healthcare Workers, Military Members, School Teachers, and Students, but our holistic approach to wellness is beneficial for everyone. Let us help you achieve your health goals today.  Join us at or subscribe to the youtube channel

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