Self-compassion is powerfully protective when relationships end

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-compassion encompasses

  • 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.



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