Volume 6, Issue 2 (May 2019)                   Avicenna J Neuro Psycho Physiology 2019, 6(2): 57-66 | Back to browse issues page


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Hosseini Barzanji A, Kurd B. A Review Study on Self-compassion and Its Place in Psychological Health. Avicenna J Neuro Psycho Physiology 2019; 6 (2) :57-66
URL: http://ajnpp.umsha.ac.ir/article-1-162-en.html
1- Department of Psychology, Mahabad Branch, Islamic Azad University, Mahabad, Iran.
2- Department of Psychology, Mahabad Branch, Islamic Azad University, Mahabad, Iran. , b.kurd@iau-mahabad.ac.ir
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1. Introduction
Self-compassion is a positive psychological trait aimed at improving conditions and accepting the abilities and psychological well-being of people, who usually use positive emotions and more adaptive strategies in dealing with stressful life situations. Self-compassion is essentially a kind of mindfulness that allows one to understand and accept the most painful excitement of life without being disillusioned [1]. Neff showed that people, who have a high degree of self-compassion, usually have a balanced view and insight along with positive thinking and self-care because they do not persist in the inevitable pain and feelings of defeats that they experience through intense and self-verbal reproaches, isolation, loneliness, and magnifications [2, 3].
Self-compassion consists of 3 bipolar components; self-kindness versus self-judgment, sense of common humanity versus isolation, and mindfulness versus over-identification. These components are mutually interacting and require a kind of moving from the tough psychological conditions to the improvement. This structure requires a sense of acceptance and kindness toward oneself (loving-kindness toward oneself) and it cannot be blocked by harsh judgments and prejudices, but individuals equipped with this positive psychological empowerment in difficult psychosocial conditions, with an emphasis on human affinity, emphasize social affinities and implies the perception that all human beings are mistaken, and their activities are always may be resulted in mistaken and even fail, it is not necessarily complete [4].
Undoubtedly, every human being may have failures, mistakes, or ineffective behaviors in life. The person places his personal conflicts and pitfalls at the center of his attention so that he will indirectly have extreme reactions. As he/she considers pain, suffering and defeat are not a logical process of thinking, but a kind of tunnel thinking and vision, in which the real image is lost. Instead, the main focus is solely on themselves as weak and inefficient people. These inadequate responses and conceptualizations of themselves may result in the isolation and separation of the individual from the rest of the community. It results in the formation of something like the personal fable, which is usually seen among adolescents since teens are in conflict with their own problems and believe that their personal experience is unique and they are highly self-centered [5].
On the other hand, a person, who is self-compassioned, has a wider perspective; he/she considers the challenges of life and personal failures as a part of human life and has common sense. The sense of common humanity can correct the concept of personality and self-centeredness and, when a person is under stress, it helps to connect more socially to the people around before he/she is separated from them. Before they see themselves isolated, self-compassioned people see themselves as members of their circles, such as family or community members [6-8]. Therefore, the nature of the sense of common humanity in a harsh psychological condition not only makes it difficult to feel isolated but also emphasizes maintaining more social cohesion. Another factor affecting the formation of self-compassion is mindfulness. The adoption of mindfulness involves “openness to experience” for the reality of the present moment so that any thought and excitement without judgment, avoidance, and repression will be experienced in the direction of consciousness [9]. 
Mindfulness has defined consciousness in a specific and targeted way at a given time without judgment or prejudgment [10]. Cardaciotto introduces mindfulness-awareness as a cognitive state that is deliberately and consciously focused and can increase the capacity and ability of the information processing system [11]. It increases awareness, transparency, and acceptance of reality at present. Mindfulness restricts the tendency toward painful excitement and oppression. It allows the person to see and experience the unpleasant feeling he/she encounters. In other words, in the mindfulness, what is happening at the moment will be understood without drowning in negative thoughts, feelings, and magnification [12-13]. Enlarging thoughts and negative feelings limit concentration and thinking and, consequently, exaggeration occurs [14]. Usually, such judgments are made: “not only am I failed but I am a loser”, “I cannot”, and “my life is destroyed”. In magnification, he sees himself as a helpless and miserable individual and exaggerates in expressing and illustrating reality, while mindfulness allows us to have a more objective and conscious view of ourselves and life and helps us avoid magnification. 
Mindfulness increases self-awareness emotion and can affect emotional regulation. Therefore, self-compassion has been effective in increasing positive emotions and decreasing negative ones and it is effective in regulating emotions [15]. Thus, mindfulness is a balanced mental framework that avoids magnification of situations and provides an opportunity for an individual to escape from unpleasant emotional states and the emergence of instability in excitement. Instead of exacerbating various stresses, the field of psychological growth provides welfare. In the same vein, Hollis-Walker and Colosimo [16] stated that regarding the role of mindfulness in psychological well-being, having mindfulness with increasing psychological well-being and psychological functions reduces the symptoms of pain and stress among the injured people.
Most studies on self-decomposition have been conducted, using a self-compassion scale, which evaluates its own degree of cognition. It is also used in Iran on the same scale that Kord and Sharifi [17] and Momeni et al. [18] have standardized. This scale is used for expressing the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors associated with self-compassion components. These components examine how people react to unreliable or painful feelings. Exploratory factor analysis is used to investigate the structural validity of this scale. In factor analysis, using the method of analysis, 6 main component factors (self-control versus self-criticism, the sense of humanity versus isolation, and mindfulness versus more replication or magnification), which, in total, explains 75.12% of the total scale variance, have been recognized.
Studies show that individuals, who have higher grades on their own scale, have achieved higher levels of happiness, optimism, life satisfaction, body satisfaction, competencies, and suitable physiological reactions against stress [19-22]. Similarly, researchers increasingly use other methods to examine the relationship between self-efficacy and mental health, including outcomes of the mood [23], behavioral observations [24], and short-term and long-term interventions [25]. Also, self-compassion was related to the lower levels of depression, anxiety, stress, body dissatisfaction, and fear of failure [26-28]. 
Studies show that self-compassion has an inverse relationship with psychological damage. Macbeth and Gumley showed that self-compassion has a negative relationship with negative emotions in 20 studies. The extraordinary size of the great effect and self-examination is an important predictor of anxiety and depression [29]. Therefore, self-compassion is still a negative predictor of anxiety and depression, especially when it is controlled by self-criticism and negative emotions. Self-compassion is also accompanied by a reduction in intellectual rumination and perfectionism; moreover, self-compassion facilitates encountering and responding to negative events [30]. An experimental study by Leary et al. showed that those, who are at higher levels in their own traits, are rarely inferior to severe reactions, negative excitements, and negative thoughts. They easily recognize the responsibility for their behaviors toward those, who have lower self-compassion [31]. 
It is worth noting that self-compassion does not completely eliminate or conceal the negative emotions, but reduces negative thoughts and negative emotional responses. Neff et al. simulated a job interview for their participants, who were asked to “state their biggest weakness”. The results showed that those, who had more self-compassion, used a special style in their language when they wrote about their weaknesses, which showed social affinity. For example, they used less “the first-person pronoun”, using the word “I”; in contrast, they used more the collective pronouns like “we” and pointed to social resources such as friends, families, and other social resources [32]. These findings show that self-compassion reduces the inconsistency of emotional responses because their weaknesses do not lead to isolation and separation from the community because of the experience of the sense of human involvement.
Self-compassion has also a significant relationship with emotional intelligence, personal initiative, curiosity, intellectual flexibility, and community-related emotions. These are important components of a meaningful life. Additionally, self-compassion is consistent with the feelings of autonomy, competence, dependency, and self-evaluation [33], suggesting that self-adaptation is related to the basic psychological needs raised by Ryan and Deci. Self-decomposition is an important tool for success in dealing with a variety of problems. Individuals with more self-compassion have more emotional balance, work better in their everyday life, and feel less pain in chronic diseases [34-35]. It can also be an important protective agent for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) [36]. Hiraoka et al. showed that disabled soldiers, who returned from the Iraq and Afghanistan war, were less likely to experience PTSD symptoms at their optimal level [37].
As self-compassion is based on positive emotions, it leads to healthier psychological performance. People who are not self-compassioned are more likely are those who have had criticizing mothers in their childhood and have experienced inefficient families and patterns of unpleasant and difficult attachment [38-39]. Inappropriate emotional behaviors in childhood are associated with lower self-compassion, and those with low self-compassion are more anxious and more likely to have alcohol abuse, substance abuse, or seriously committing suicide [40-41].
Therefore, the findings show that self-mediating is the role of mediation related to the relationships between childhood abuse and emotional maladaptation. In this sense, those, who have been abused and have higher levels of self-sufficiency, can cope with inconvenient incidents better compared to fewer people [41] and this suggests that self-compassion is considered a major contributor to the damaged behavior of children.
Self-compassionate is a key mechanism in the effectiveness of mind-awareness therapy interventions, including Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) [42]. Kuyken et al. showed increased awareness and self-compassion after having participated in a cognitive-based therapy program, which reduced the symptoms of depression in a 15-month period and reduced the depression relapse [43]. These findings suggest that self-compassion is viewed as an important key to changing thinking patterns permanently and inefficient schemas to prevent depression and depression relapse. Mindfulness-based stress reduction Kabat-Zinn [43] and MBCT such as relaxation, sitting exercises, strolling, and some Yoga exercises [44-45]. The awareness of consciousness, which is a part of its own structure, is improving academic performance and reducing mental retardation and negative emotions [46-47]. 
In the same vein, a factor between mindfulness and compassion, which plays an important role in explaining well-being mentality and increasing mindfulness by reducing mood and stress in them [48]. Therefore, according to the mentioned cases and emphasizing that a review article on self-compassion and psychological well-being has not been conducted in Iran, the aim of this study was to systematically review previous studies in the field of self-compassion and its relationship with psychological well-being. Accordingly, the researchers have already considered, according to several studies, the researchers intended to prepare a proper review article in this regard.
2. Materials and Methods
This research is a narrative review study that focuses on the concept of self-compassion and psychological health without a time limit in seeking and collecting articles (Figure 1). The scientific databases, such as PubMed, Cochrane Library, ProQuest, SID, Google Scholar, PsycINFO, and Medline were searched.
Firstly, the quality of the extracted articles was examined by the reviewers. Then, the review, descriptive, and experimental articles containing criteria such as proper measuring instruments for self-assessment and psychological health, as well as the relationship between self-assessment and psychological health (written in English or Persian languages) were reviewed and analyzed.
All papers collected by researchers were evaluated in terms of quality (the type of study, environments and sample size, and measurement tools). To extract the data, all final papers were processed based on a premade checklist. The checklist contains the name of the author and the year of the study, the study purpose, the sample size and the environment, tools for measuring variables, method, and data collection.
3. Results
In the present study, after searching for the necessary studies from 54 initial articles, 48 articles were eliminated because of the lack of correlation between self-compassion and psychological health, the lack of psychological health tools, the lack of standard tools, psychological health inappropriateness, irrelevant language to the topic, and the repetitiveness of the articles. Finally, 6 articles that examined the relationship between self-compassion and psychological health were studied (Table 1).
4. Discussion
The aim of this study is locating self-compassion in psychological health. Self-compassion and its components affect psychological health and in as much as the enjoyment of self-compassion increases, the level of psychological well-being will be directly improved [1-4]. It definitely has a reverse relationship with psychological traumas, such as anxiety and depression, and reduces negative and incompatible emotional responses [30-31]. 
Giving the positive psychological capacities, such as self-kindness, social competency, and mindfulness, people with the self-compassion characteristics rarely show severe reactions and negative automatic thoughts because self-compassion is associated with basic psychological needs [33]. Individuals with more self-compassion are more emotionally balanced and an important protective factor for PTSD [36] because self-compassion is a powerful source of coping with stressful situations and it has a direct relationship with basic psychological needs [24]. 
The reality of its own structure is the focus on the sentimental feelings, the perception and acceptance of itself, and the recognition of the common sense of the human being, who is under the strict psychological conditions, instead of severe criticisms, and cares about himself with self-discipline and adaptive behavior. From this point of view, one has achieved mental health. He will have an understanding and acceptance of his activities and will take care of himself. Therefore, this positive attitude leads to self-care, by which one cannot blame himself in the face of defeats, loss, and debris. In contrast, he consciously and constantly focuses on understanding the basic processes of the world of his mind. It allows him to experience first-hand experiences with full vigilance and care about himself in his own mind.
One of the cognitive-behavioral therapies that have a great impact on reducing mental stress is mindfulness. It is a kind of ability to live better that prevents exaggeration and excessive magnification [42]. Mindfulness is a concept of consciousness relevant to “here” and “now” and instead of exacerbating pressures, it provides the field of growing, which results in increasing positive emotions and excitements. Hence, mindfulness can improve the quality of life and evaluate life-threatening situations with less stress and more adaptive to stressful situations. Additionally, studies have also shown that mindfulness-based therapeutic interventions, including MBCT, reduced the symptoms of depression and other negative emotions, as well as depression relapse [43]. 
It usually allows the development of systems to relieve and provide balancing emotional systems because CFT-based interventions focus on developing internalized capabilities and creating the experience of positive emotions. Self-compassion reduces hostility and develops one’s ability to create self-confidence and self-esteem. Through their high self-care capacity, self-compassioned people are trying to replace suffering pain with the endeavor, which is the consequence of increasing social cohesion and social interaction with others; all are social interactions and represent psychological health. Therefore, self-compassion concept and its structure is a positive psychological construct with a positive impact on psychosocial health. 
Today, the study of self-compassion in various fields of psychology is growing rapidly, but there are still issues of self-compassion that are unclear and are necessary to be investigated in future studies. For example, are there any hidden objections to training and practicing self-compassion? Is there any fundamental difference between self-compassion in age groups, genders, cultures, and social classes? Undoubtedly, answering such questions involves numerous studies that may have not been reviewed so far or just there are limited ones. The right way to check whether self-compassion results in increasing psychological well-being is by conducting research by researchers on themselves. Nowadays, researchers are increasingly using the scientist-practitioner model [51]. As the researcher considers himself a participant, he examines his own “experience of his own life” about self-compassion with all the dimensions, features, and processes, and directly explores its processes. Therefore, it is recommended that researchers in the psychological contexts, in a phenomenological way, provide a thorough understanding of their explanation and analysis in order to provide genuine knowledge of this subject. Also, the majority of research on self-compassion is the product of solidarity studies that cannot necessarily establish a causal relationship for the confirmation and convergence of the findings. It is necessary to verify self-compassion by using interactive and non-self-reported methods to give more credibility to the data. It turns out that self-compassion is a powerful way to increase psychological well-being.
5. Conclusion
Considering that studies in this regard in Iran are limited and more psychological health-related areas are not included, it is recommended that planners and policymakers of the psychological health community develop coherent educational programs based on the components of self-governance, the sense of shared humanity, and mindfulness for the promotion of well-being and psychological well-being.
Ethical Considerations
Compliance with ethical guidelines
This research does not have the ethics code. However, all ethical principles were considered in this article. The participants were informed about the purpose of the research and its therapeutic stages; they were also assured about the confidentiality of their information. Furthermore, they were allowed to leave the study whenever they wish.

Funding
This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies.
Authors' contributions
All authors contributed equally in preparing all parts of the research.
Conflict of interest
The authors declared no conflict of interest.


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Article Type: Systematic Review or Meta Analysis | Subject: Integrated Care Models
Received: 2019/09/13 | Accepted: 2019/02/15 | Published: 2019/05/1

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