Self Compassion, not Self-Esteem, Enhances Performance

Juliana Breines

Juliana Breines

University of California, Berkeley’s Juliana Breines and Serena Chen conducted a series of experiments that suggest that self-compassion, or treating one’s own suffering with the same type of support and compassion offered to others, is more important than self-esteem in developing skill and performance.

Serena Chen

Serena Chen

Self-compassion enables people to accept their mistakes, failures, shortcomings with kindness and to be awareness of painful thoughts and feelings with equanimity.

Breines and Chan argue that self-compassion is optimized when accompanied by accepting responsibility for any unsuccessful performance outcomes, and using the information to non-punitively improve performance.

They asked volunteers to consider an actual personal setback or failure with self-compassion or self-esteem-enhancing perspective (considering one’s positive qualities and accomplishments).

Volunteers who practiced a self-compassionate perspective tended to view personal shortcomings as changeable, and felt more motivation to improve performance by avoiding the same mistake in the future.

Breines and Chan validated this finding in a study that induced experience of failure in a task, then provided an opportunity to improve performance in a later trial.
Volunteers who viewed their initial test failure with self-compassion devoted 25 per cent more time to preparing for future trials, and scored higher on the second test than those who focused on bolstering their self-esteem.

Breines and Chan suggest self-compassion can enhance performance because it enables more dispassionate assessment of actions, abilities, and opportunities for future improvement.
They argue that self-esteem-bolstering thoughts may narrow focus to consider only positive characteristics while overlooking opportunities for improvement.

Kristin Neff

Kristin Neff

Kristin Neff and Stephanie Rude of University of Texas, and Kristin Kirkpatrick of Eastern Kentucky University considered personality characteristics of people who practice self-compassion, and found measures of self-compassion were related to positive personality characteristics outlined in Robert McCrae and Paul Costa’s five factor model of personality known by the acronym OCEAN:

Robert McCrae

Robert McCrae

Paul Costa

Paul Costa

Neff’s team found that higher levels of personal well-being, optimism, initiative, conscientiousness, curiosity, happiness associated were associated with self-compassion.
In addition, higher self-compassion was related to lower anxiety and depression.

Conversely, Mark Baldwin, now of McGill University, offered complementary findings from his research with volunteers who identified the name of an important, close, yet person in their lives.
He found that this “priming” led participants to report more negative self-evaluations, self-criticism, and negative moods.

Mark Baldwin

Mark Baldwin

Research on evoked self-compassion and its negative partner, self-criticism, suggests that compassionate self-appraisals enable people to perform better and experience more positive moods than self-critical evaluations.

-*How have you applied self-compassion to improve performance?

Related Post
Working toward Goals with “Implementation Intentions”

Twitter:   @kathrynwelds
Blog: – Kathryn Welds | Curated Research and Commentary  
LinkedIn Open Group Mindful Leadership
Facebook Notes

©Kathryn Welds


11 thoughts on “Self Compassion, not Self-Esteem, Enhances Performance

  1. Pingback: Steps to enhance self-esteem and nurture yourselfSuccess with Life Coaching

  2. Pingback: Self-compassion… | Wholeheartedness

  3. Pingback: Compassion for the Self-Critic | Health & Wellbeing Coaching with Edgar Danmer

  4. Pingback: Compassion Training Surpasses Empathy Training to Reduce Stress | Kathryn Welds | Curated Research and Commentary

  5. Pingback: “Grit” Rivals IQ and EQ to Achieve Goals | Kathryn Welds | Curated Research and Commentary

  6. Pingback: How Accurate are Personality Judgments Based on Physical Appearance? | Kathryn Welds | Curated Research and Commentary

  7. Pingback: Gender Differences in Emotional Expression: Smiling | Kathryn Welds | Curated Research and Commentary

  8. Pingback: Want to Remember Something You Read? Skip the Underlining – Exploding Learning Technique Myths | Kathryn Welds | Curated Research and Commentary

  9. Pingback: Introversion and Extraversion Starts with Your Genes and Shows in Your Brain | Kathryn Welds | Curated Research and Commentary

  10. Pingback: Self-Stereotypes Still Limit Women’s Performance | Kathryn Welds | Curated Research and Commentary

  11. Pingback: Paradox of Potential: May be More Appealing than Achievement in Job Search | Kathryn Welds | Curated Research and Commentary

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s