Self—Compassion: A Self-Deprecation Intervention
The target behavior for this intervention will be self-deprecation. Self-deprecation refers to negative talk about oneself. In this context, it is negative self-talk be it about one’s actions, mistakes or even mentality. My frequent and harsh criticisms about myself negatively affect my mood and positivity. Furthermore, negative self-talk is linked to poor self-esteem and ego depletion (Gregersen et al., 2017). Ego depletion refers to a depletion of willpower and focus required to carry out necessary tasks. Therefore, negative self-talk can not only lower one’s self-esteem. It can also lower one’s motivation and willpower to carry out menial tasks, whether they are work-related or personal.
Self-compassion has been a subject of psychological research for several decades. It has been a point of interest stemming from Buddhism and Buddhist perspectives as they consider self-compassion as a useful tool (Stephenson et al., 2018). Buddhist perspectives teach that individuals should have compassion for themselves so as to have emotional resources to provide to other individuals. As a consequence, self-compassion is centered on a non-judgemental understanding of one’s failures and treating oneself with positivity. I found this approach to be correctly suited to my situation as I struggled with negative self-talk for several years. I often speak to myself in ways that I would not allow another person to speak to me. Thus, I felt that this would be a significant step towards improving my self-talk.
As self-compassion is a broad field, the specific intervention selected was self-compassion, meditation and affirmations. This intervention was selected because it was effective at bettering self-talk and self-image (Albertson et al., 2015). Practicing self-compassion meditation and using affirmations has been linked with better emotional health, better self-image, minimized stress, better emotional regulation, and less perfectionism. The chosen intervention required the practise of daily self-compassion meditation using podcasts and affirmations from notes in my notebook, the fridge, and other surfaces that I interacted with often.
Measurements of self-compassion were carried out before the start of the intervention, and after the four-week conclusion. The preliminary measurements were used as baselines. The instrument used was the Self-Compassion Scale (SCS). The SCS is a measure with 26 items. Responses range from ‘5 – almost always’ to ‘1 – almost never’ and have six subscales. These subscales are self-judgment, self-kindness, common humanity, isolation, mindfulness, and over-identification (Albertson et al., 2015).
Before beginning the process, I took the SCS test and recorded my results for comparison at the culmination of the intervention. I identified self-compassion meditation playlists on SoundCloud streaming service and listened to one for at least 20 minutes daily. Additionally, I wrote self-compassionate affirmations on sticky notes. I placed them in a notebook that I used for frequent reference when I felt self-deprecating. I also placed these notes throughout my home, including on the fridge, as I often turned to stress-eating for relief.
The main problem that I encountered was finding the time and remembering to listen to the self-compassion meditations. At first, I did them at the start of the day, but when my schedule did not allow this, I shifted them to the evening before bed. Either way, I often struggled to remember to carry them out, and eventually had to set a reminder on my phone. When I would miss the daily meditation session, I was often more self-deprecating of my actions. However, as I continued with the exercises, I became less of a perfectionist and accepted that I would not always find a regular time to carry it out.
The main change that I noticed during the process was a decrease in perfectionism and an increase in acceptance of my faults. Although I did not manage to make my routine regular, and although I missed some sessions throughout the four-week plan, I accepted that mistakes were inevitable. I also did not berate myself over it as I usually did.
The SCS results taken after the completion of the 4-week program were significantly different from the baseline results. I exhibited a marked escalation in the subscale of self-judgment. I was less likely to judge and berate myself harshly for my mistakes or inadequacies. I also exhibited a marked decrease in isolation. I did not view myself as separate when I failed but rather recognized that it is part of the common human experience. Overall, my self-deprecation decreased, and my self-compassion increased.
One thing that went particularly well, was a decrease in self-judgment. I became less harsh to myself for my faults. One challenge that I am still facing is mindfulness when it comes to my emotional responses. If I could do the process over again, I would focus on mindfulness meditation as well. Research shows that mindfulness and self-compassion are linked and have a synergistic effect on one another (Bluth & Eisenlohr-Moul, 2017).
Albertson, E. R., Neff, K. D., & Dill-Shackleford, K. E. (2015). Self-compassion and body dissatisfaction in women: A randomized controlled trial of a brief meditation intervention. Mindfulness, 6(3), 444–454.
Bluth, K., & Eisenlohr-Moul, T. A. (2017). Response to a mindful self-compassion intervention in teens: A within-person association of mindfulness, self-compassion, and emotional well-being outcomes. Journal of Adolescence, 57, 108–118.
Gregersen, J., Hatzigeorgiadis, A., Galanis, E., Comoutos, N., & Papaioannou, A. (2017). Countering the consequences of ego depletion: The effects of self-talk on selective attention. Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 39(3), 161–171.
Stephenson, E., Watson, P. J., Chen, Z. J., & Morris, R. J. (2018). Self-compassion, self-esteem, and irrational beliefs. Current Psychology, 37(4), 809–815.