Self-Compassion in Relationships

by | Feb 7, 2020 | Adolescence, Families, Mindfulness, Parenting, Relationships, Research, Self-Care, Self-Compassion | 0 comments

Self-Compassion radiates outward

When we actively practice being kind and compassionate toward ourselves, people begin to take notice. Our interactions with other people are impacted as our tone begins to shift and our facial expressions begin to change. In fact, Neff and Beretvas (2012) found that self-compassion is linked to more positive behaviors in relationships, which has an impact on relationship satisfaction. Self-compassionate partners tend to respect their significant other’s point of view and autonomy within the relationship. They encourage their partners to go after their passions and interests. And their partners describe them as being more connected, intimate, caring, and open-hearted. It seems that being more compassionate and kind toward ourselves helps us to do the same toward our partners.

Being kind to ourselves helps us connect with others more compassionately.

If we stop to think about the three components of self-compassion, this makes sense. Along with being kind to ourselves, we also realize that others go through challenges and pain, just like we do (common humanity). It makes sense, then, that we would extend this same caring understanding to our partners. That person who constantly leaves socks on the floor is a living, breathing, feeling person (not just a sock dropping robot). I kid about the robot part, but really, it’s good to remember that our partner goes through struggles in life, just like we do. Additionally, with self-compassion, we are mindful of our own emotions and reactions, which can help us to regulate them better in an argument or heated moment.

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Meeting your own emotional needs

Self-compassion can also help us to be mindful of what we need in our relationships. Since our partners aren’t mind readers, this mindfulness can help us communicate our needs better (e.g., telling your partner that you just need a hug right now). Similarly, it can also help us meet our own needs at times, instead of expecting our partners to be superhuman and fulfill all our wishes. Giving and receiving is part of a healthy relationship, and that balance is enhanced when we learn to give care to ourselves, as well.

Children also benefit from self-compassion

Children, particularly adolescents, are also plagued by the unkind self-critic. Social comparison is high at that age and often wrought with unattainable goals (e.g., images in the media). You can teach your children about self-compassion directly, but you can also model it with your own behavior. Watch how you talk about yourself in front of your children, and if the self-critic does announce itself aloud, use that as a teaching moment. Talk about how we all judge ourselves too harshly sometimes and that it’s important to be kind to ourselves. Then list kind things you could say to yourself instead. Above all, be compassionate to yourself as you parent. Parenting is rewarding but challenging. Mistakes are a natural part of parenting, so be kind to yourself and learn from them. And mute any “noise” you get from social media that contributes to the inner critic. Counter it with self-kindness and compassion.

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