Self-compassion, says an upcoming study in Psychological Science, a journal published by the Association for Psychological Science. Self-compassion—a combination of kindness toward oneself, recognition of common humanity, and the ability to let painful emotions pass—"can promote resilience and positive outcomes in the face of divorce," says psychologist David A. Sbarra, who conducted the study with University of Arizona colleagues Hillary L. Smith and Matthias R. Mehl. Independent of other personality traits, that one capacity predicts better adjustment shortly after divorce and up to nine months later.
The findings have implications for helping people learn to weather breakups in better health and better spirits.
"We're not interested in the basic statement, 'People who are coping better today do better nine months from now.' That doesn't help anybody," says Sbarra. "The surprising part here is that when we look at a bunch of positive characteristics"—such as self-esteem, resistance to depression, optimism, or ease with relationships—"this one characteristic—self-compassion— uniquely predicts good outcomes."
The study involved 105 people, 38 men and 67 women, whose mean age was about 40; they'd been married over 13 years and divorced an average of three to four months. On the first visit, participants were asked to think about their former partner for 30 seconds, then talk for four minutes about their feelings and thoughts related to the separation.
Four trained coders listened to the audio files and rated the participants' levels of self-compassion, using a standard measure of the construct. The participants also were assessed for other psychological traits, such as depression and their "relationship style." At the initial visit, three months later, and then after either six or nine months participants reported on their adjustment to the divorce, including the frequency with which they experienced intrusive thoughts and emotions about the separation and their ex-partner.
As expected, the people with high levels of self-compassion at the start both recovered faster and were doing better after a period of months.
How can these data help people going through divorce? Sbarra's friends, knowing what he studies, often ask for such advice.
"It's not easy to say, 'Be less anxious.' You can't change your personality so easily. We also know that women do better than men. But you can't change your sex. What you can change is your stance with respect to your experience." Understanding your loss as part of bigger human experience helps assuage feelings of isolation, he says. Mindfulness—noting jealousy or anger without judgment or rumination—lets you turn your mind to life in the present without getting stuck in the past.
Can all this be taught? The researchers are unsure but optimistic. Says Sbarra: "This study opens a window for how we can potentially cultivate self-compassion among recently separated adults" and help smooth the journey through one of life's most difficult experiences.
For more information about this study, please contact: David A. Sbarra at email@example.com.
The APS journal Psychological Science is the highest ranked empirical journal in psychology. For a copy of the article "When Leaving Your Ex, Love Yourself: Observational Ratings of Self-compassion Predict the Course of Emotional Recovery Following Marital Separation" and access to other Psychological Science research findings, please contact Lucy Hyde at 202-293-9300 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lucy Hyde | EurekAlert!
Fixating on faces
26.01.2017 | California Institute of Technology
Internet use in class tied to lower test scores
16.12.2016 | Michigan State University
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
Two researchers at Heidelberg University have developed a model system that enables a better understanding of the processes in a quantum-physical experiment...
Glaciers might seem rather inhospitable environments. However, they are home to a diverse and vibrant microbial community. It’s becoming increasingly clear that they play a bigger role in the carbon cycle than previously thought.
A new study, now published in the journal Nature Geoscience, shows how microbial communities in melting glaciers contribute to the Earth’s carbon cycle, a...
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
03.04.2017 | Event News
21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
21.04.2017 | Health and Medicine
21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy