Increasing Self-Compassion: Review of the Literature and Recommendations

Lauren Stutts


Depression is a common symptom among college students and is often accompanied by negative thoughts about oneself.  Self-compassion is a technique students can use to combat those negative thoughts.  Self-compassion is an emotion-regulation strategy in which the individual engages in self-kindness, particularly after a mistake, failure, and/or rejection.  This paper reviews the concept of self-compassion, assessment of self-compassion, and interventions that have been shown to increase self-compassion.  Self-compassion is associated with lower levels of psychopathology and higher levels of well-being.  It is theorized to work by buffering against a self-critical ruminative process after a mistake, failure, and/or rejection.  Self-compassion is most commonly assessed through a validated scale that measures overall self-compassion and its six subscales: self-kindness, common humanity, mindfulness, self-judgment, isolation, and over-identification.  Multiple self-compassion interventions have been shown to increase self-compassion and improve psychological health.  These interventions are varied and contain strategies such as mindfulness meditation, loving kindness meditation, and changing self-talk.  Details of those interventions and practical strategies that individuals, students, and professors can use to increase self-compassion are described.  Overall, self-compassion is a valuable tool that can help individuals cope with mistakes, failure, and/or rejection.