25 Sep Self-compassion is powerfully protective when relationships end
Separation and divorce are two of life’s biggest stressors. Emotional overwhelm is normal following the end of a relationship, but for some this can continue for a long time and impair wellbeing.
Research shows that self-compassion can promote resilience and enhance well-being when relationships end. It can also promote positive adjustment in the longer term. It is powerfully protective.
- self-kindness (treating yourself with understanding and forgiveness)
- recognizing your shared humanity (acknowledging that we’re not perfect and that personal difficulties are part of the larger human experience), and
- mindfulness (emotional equanimity and avoiding overidentifying with painful emotions).
People with self-compassion still feel the pain of separation, but don’t get stuck in negative thinking, punish themselves or wallow in their emotions.
And we can learn to be self-compassionate and mindful.
Professionals working with people who are separating should encourage them to cultivate self-compassion. They can do this by supporting clients to
- notice and accept negative thoughts about the end of their relationships (without becoming stuck in self-recrimination or anger),
- cultivate self-kindness even while experiencing emotional pain (and move from regret and self-recrimination to self-forgiveness), and
- acknowledge that difficult experiences, including separation and divorce, are part of the ups and downs of the human experience.
A little separation self-kindness can go a long way.