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Mechanisms of mindfulness: Rumination and self-compassion


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Why do more mindful individuals tend to be less depressed? We hypothesized (1) that mindfulness is associated with depressive symptoms both via the path of lower levels of rumination and higher levels of self-compassion and (2) that the path via self-compassion would explain variance beyond that which could be explained by rumination. Undergraduate students (N = 277) completed the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire, the Rumination subscale of the Rumination-Reflection Questionnaire, the Self-Compassion Scale, and the depression subscale of the symptom checklist-90 revised (SCL-90-R-dep). Results showed that mindfulness was associated with depressive symptoms both via the pathway of lower levels of rumination and via the pathway of higher levels of self-compassion. Both pathways were found to predict unique variance in depressive symptoms beyond that which could be explained by the other pathway. This suggests that one needs to consider the influence of mindfulness on both rumination and on self-compassion in order to fully understand why mindful individuals tend to be less depressed.
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Nordic Psychology
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Mechanisms of mindfulness: Rumination and self-
Julie Lillebostad Svendsen, Katrine Valvatne Kvernenes, Agnethe Smith
Wiker & Ingrid Dundas
To cite this article: Julie Lillebostad Svendsen, Katrine Valvatne Kvernenes, Agnethe Smith
Wiker & Ingrid Dundas (2016): Mechanisms of mindfulness: Rumination and self-compassion,
Nordic Psychology, DOI: 10.1080/19012276.2016.1171730
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Published online: 15 Apr 2016.
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© 2016 The Editors of Nordic Psychology
Mechanisms of mindfulness: Rumination and
*Correspondence address: Julie Lillebostad Svendsen, Faculty of Psychology, University of Bergen, Jonas Lies vei 91, 5009
Bergen, Norway. Email:
Why do more mindful individuals tend to be less depressed? We hypothesized (1) that mindful-
ness is associated with depressive symptoms both via the path of lower levels of rumination and
higher levels of self-compassion and (2) that the path via self-compassion would explain variance
beyond that which could be explained by rumination. Undergraduate students (N=277) com-
pleted the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire, the Rumination subscale of the Rumination-
Reection Questionnaire, the Self-Compassion Scale, and the depression subscale of the
symptom checklist-90 revised (SCL-90-R-dep). Results showed that mindfulness was associat-
ed with depressive symptoms both via the pathway of lower levels of rumination and via the
pathway of higher levels of self-compassion. Both pathways were found to predict unique vari-
ance in depressive symptoms beyond that which could be explained by the other pathway. This
suggests that one needs to consider the inuence of mindfulness on both rumination and on
self-compassion in order to fully understand why mindful individuals tend to be less depressed.
Keywords:mindfulness, self-compassion, rumination, depression, mediation
A large body of research shows that mindfulness is inversely related to depressive symptoms (e.g,
Brown & Ryan, 2003; Barnes & Lynn, 2010), and positively related to well-being and quality of life
(e.g, Brown & Ryan, 2003; Carlson et al., 2003; Roth & Robbins, 2004; Carmody & Baer, 2008). Sev-
eral researchers have noted the need to explore the mechanisms explaining the salutary eects
of mindfulness (Baer et al., 2006; Shapiro et al., 2006), but little is still known about how mindful-
ness exerts its eects. A range of potential mediators have been studied, including decentering
(i.e, increased ability to observe thoughts and feelings as transitory events; e.g, Carmody et al.,
2009), emotion regulation skills (i.e, more adaptive ways of responding to emotional distress; e.g,
Velotti, Garofalo, & Bizzi, 2015), having more specic life goals (in contrast to having diuse goals;
Crane et al., 2012), lessened self-discrepancy (i.e, smaller perceived distance between current
self and idealized self; Crane et al., 2008), and better attention regulation (i.e, improved ability
to consciously control attentional focus; van den Hurk et al., 2012). However, rumination and
self-compassion are the two variables that seem to have received the most attention, and the
evidence supporting other potential mediators is still preliminary (van der Velden et al., 2015).
1Faculty of Psychology, Institute for Biological and Medical Psychology, University of Bergen, Jonas Lies vei 91, 5009 Bergen,
2Helse Fonna/ BUP Stord, Tysevegen 74, 5416 Stord, Norway
3Oslo kommune, Stovner bydel, Avdeling for helse, seksjon friskliv og mestring, Karl Fossums vei 30, 0985 Oslo, Norway
4Faculty of Psychology, Institute for Clinical Psychology, University of Bergen, Christiesgate 12, 5015 Bergen, Norway
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Rumination can be dened as a specic way of responding to low mood in which one
ponders about possible causes and implications of the sad feelings (Nolen-Hoeksema, 1991).
Self-compassion may be understood as being caring and kind toward oneself when one suers
(Ne, 2003a). In the context of depressive symptoms in particular, rumination seems to play a
key role (Desrosiers et al., 2012). Indeed, a recent review of mindfulness mediators on depression
(van der Velden et al., 2015) found that rumination along with self-compassion are the variables
which have the most evidence in the existing literature, although there are a few contradictory
ndings (Kerns et al., 2016). In addition, rumination and self-compassion are clinically relevant
constructs that have been shown to change positively as a result of clinical interventions (Segal,
Williams, & Teasdale, 2002; Gilbert & Procter, 2006; Ne & Germer, 2013). Our main purpose of the
present study was to examine if both these variables would mediate between mindfulness and
depression, when studied in the same model.
The path via rumination
Several studies have found high levels of rumination to be correlated with onset, duration, and
severity of depressive symptoms (Kenny & Williams, 2007; Watkins, 2008) As mindfulness is cen-
tered on concrete experience in the present moment, it is thought to counteract rumination
which typically is focused on the past and often more abstract in nature (e.g., Bishop et al., 2004).
The idea that rumination serves as a mediator between mindfulness and depressive symptoms
is in line with the theoretical rationale for Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT; Segal,
Williams, & Teasdale, 2002), in which decreased rumination is identied as the key mechanism
of change in mindfulness. Segal, Williams, & Teasdale, 2002 theorize that a depressive episode
leads to the establishment of associations between low mood, self-critical thoughts, negative
memories, and body tension. If one of these symptoms reoccurs, for example, low mood, it may
reactivate the full depressive pattern.
Several studies (e.g., Jain et al., 2007; Coey & Hartman, 2008; Labelle, Campbell, & Carlson,
2010; Heeren & Philippot, 2011; van Aalderen et al., 2012) have found rumination to be a medi-
ator of the relation between mindfulness and depression. Coey and Hartman (2008) found
rumination (Rumination Reection Questionnaire; RRQ) to be a mediator of the relation between
mindfulness (Mindful Attention Awareness Scale) and psychological distress (Brief Symptom
Inventory; BSI) in two dierent student samples. Two additional cross-sectional studies found
that rumination (RRQ and the rumination subscale of the Daily Emotion Report, respectively)
was a mediator of the eects of the mindfulness-based stress reduction program on depres-
sive symptoms as measured by the Center for Epidemiological Studies Short Depression Scale
(CES-D 10) in cancer patients (Labelle et al., 2010) and depressive symptoms as measured by
BSI in a student sample (Jain et al., 2007). Heeren and Philippot (2011) found maladaptive rumi-
nation (Cambridge-Exeter repetitive thought scale; Mini-CERTS) to be a partial mediator of the
eects of MBCT on depressive symptoms (SCL-90-R). Similarly, van Aalderen et al. (2012) found
that rumination (Rumination on the Sadness Scale) was a mediator to the eects of MBCT on
depressive symptoms (BDI-II). However, one recent study (Kerns et al., 2016) found contradictory
results, reporting that rumination did not mediate the relation between MBCT and depression.
Thus, although there is thorough evidence that rumination plays a role in explaining the associa-
tion between mindfulness and depression, more research is needed in order to conclude.
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The path via self-compassion
Self-compassion is a relatively new construct in Western psychology, and like mindfulness, it
has its origins in Buddhist philosophy. Being high on self-compassion implies wanting to alle-
viate one’s suering and extending kindness toward oneself, without suppressing or avoiding
the pain. According to Ne (2003a), self-compassion comprises three interacting components:
self-kindness (being kind and understanding toward oneself, instead of blaming or criticizing
oneself), common humanity (recognizing that painful experiences are part of being human,
rather than feeling isolated and disconnected from other people), and mindfulness (holding
painful emotions and thoughts in balanced awareness, rather than avoiding, suppressing, or
becoming emotionally overwhelmed by them). Thus, self-compassion is thought to entail mind-
fulness, but this form of mindfulness diers from the general concept of mindfulness (Ne &
Germer, 2013). It is more narrowly focused on suering and negative experiences, and refers
more to a balanced perspective on experience, in contrast to the general concept of mindfulness
which is more focused on and nonjudgmental awareness of any experiences. Indeed, these two
forms of mindfulness have been shown to reect dierent phenomena (Van Dam et al., 2011).
The role of self-compassion as a mechanism of mindfulness is in line with Buddhist thought,
where compassion for oneself and others is thought to arise with mindfulness (Radhakrishnan
& Moore, 1957; Hollis-Walker & Colosimo, 2011). When having made a mistake or feeling hurt,
it is common for depressed individuals to react with self-criticism and blame, or an immediate
attempt to solve the problem. In contrast, the nonjudgmental awareness involved in mindful-
ness increases the chances that feelings of hurt may be allowed to enter awareness, enabling
individuals to respond with self-compassion. This involves attending to the pain with an active
wish to relieve the suering (self-kindness), acknowledging that everyone experiences suering
from time to time (common humanity), and recognizing that suering or failing does not mean
that one is a bad person (low over-identication).
Self-compassion has been found to be positively correlated with mindfulness (Hollis-Walker &
Colosimo, 2011; Van Dam et al., 2011; , Lykins, & Peters, 2012; Keng et al., 2012) and negatively
correlated with depressive symptoms (Ne, 2003b; Ne, Rude, & Kirkpatrick, 2007; Ne, Pisit-
sungkagarn, & Hsieh, 2008; Raes, 2011; Van Dam et al., 2011; MacBeth & Gumley, 2012). Kuyken
et al. (2010)examined the role of self-compassion as a mediator between MBCT and depressive
symptoms. They found that MBCT participation resulted in a decoupling of the relationship
between reactivity of depressive thinking and depressive relapse, and that this decoupling was
due to the cultivation of self-compassion. Based on this nding, Kuyken et al. (2010) suggest that
self-compassion has a key role in modulating the reactivity often seen in depressed patients.
These ndings support the hypothesis that mindfulness may increase self-compassion, and
that self-compassion may be a mediator in the relation between mindfulness and depressive
Hypotheses of the present study
Based on the above-mentioned theory and research, we hypothesized that rumination and
self-compassion would be mediators of the association between mindfulness and depressive
symptoms, in a non-clinical sample. In addition, we hypothesized that self-compassion would
explain variance beyond that which can be explained by rumination. While a reduction in
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rumination may go a long way to help individuals cope with depressogenic thinking, the addi-
tional active stance of self-compassion may soothe the emotional turmoil that may accom-
pany such thinking. To our knowledge, no study has examined self-compassion as a mediator
between dispositional mindfulness and depressive symptoms. Furthermore, we are not aware
of any studies that have examined both rumination and self-compassion as mediators between
mindfulness and depression in the same model.
The sample consisted of 116 men and 155 women (N=277, mean age=22.9years, SD=3.55). Of
these, 53% (N=149) were psychology undergraduate students, 25% (N=68) were engineering
undergraduate students, and 22% (N=60) were medical undergraduate students. Reasons for
choosing several elds of study were (1) to secure a greater heterogeneity in order to improve
the generalizability of the ndings and (2) to increase the likelihood of a more even gender dis-
tribution in the sample as a whole. Most (71.8%; N=107) of the psychology undergraduates were
women, and most (73.5%; N=50) of the engineering undergraduates were men.
As a part of a larger study, we administered the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ),
the Reection-Rumination Questionnaire- Rumination, rumination subscale (RRQ-Rum), the
Self-Compassion Scale (SCS), and the depression subscale of the symptom checklist-90 revised
(SCL-90-R) to undergraduate psychology and medical students at the University of Bergen, and
engineering students at Bergen University College. The questionnaires were administered at the
beginning of the lecture, and students used the 15-min break to complete the questionnaires.
The participants were informed that participation was voluntary and anonymous, and informed
consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire
The FFMQ (Baer et al., 2006) is a self-report measure of mindfulness, consisting of ve factors
comprising a total of 39 items. The ve factors measure ve fundamental skills of mindfulness:
observing (for example: “I notice the smells and aromas of things”), describing (for example:
“I am good at nding words to describe my feelings”), acting with awareness (for example: “I nd
myself doing things without paying attention”; reverse scored item), non-judging of inner expe-
rience (for example: “I think some of my emotions are bad or inappropriate and I should not feel
them”; reverse scored item), and non-reactivity to inner experience (for example: “I perceive my
feelings and emotions without having to react to them”). Each item is a statement that respond-
ents rate on a ve-point likert-type scale ranging from one (“never or very rarely true”) to ve
(“very often or always true”).
The present study used a Norwegian translation of the FFMQ (Dundas et al., 2013). The ve
translated subscales have shown good construct and convergent validities and are internally
consistent, with α coecients ranging from .69 to .95. In the present study, Chronbach’s α of this
scale was .82.
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Rumination-Reection Questionnaire
The rumination subscale of the RRQ (Trapnell & Campbell, 1999) consists of 12 items. Examples
of items are “long after an argument or disagreement is over with, my thoughts keep going back
to what happened” and “it is easy for me to put unwanted thoughts out of my mind.” Agreement
with items is rated on a ve-point likert-type scale ranging from one (“strongly disagree”) to ve
(“strongly agree”).
In the present study, we used a Norwegian translation of the RRQ-Rum which has been
reported to have a high internal reliability (Cronbach’s α=.91) and to correlate negatively with
self-esteem, habitual negative thinking, and mindfulness (Verplanken et al., 2007). In the present
study, the rumination subscale had a Chronbach’s α of .90.
Self-Compassion Scale
The SCS (Ne, 2003b) consists of 26 items loading on six subscales, three positive and three
negative. The positive subscales are: self-kindness (for example: “I’m tolerant of my own aws
and inadequacies”), common humanity (for example: “I try to see failings as part of the human
condition”), and mindfulness (for example: When something upsets me I try to keep my emo-
tions in balance”). The negative subscales are: self-judgment (for example: “When I see aspects of
myself that I don’t like, I get down on myself”), isolation (for example: “When I fail at something
that is important to me I tend to feel alone in my failure”), and over-identication (for example:
“When something painful happens I tend to blow the incident out of proportions”). Agreement
is rated on a ve-point likert-type scale, from “almost always” to “almost never.” High scores on
the positive subscales and low scores on the negative subscales result in an overall high level of
The SCS has shown good cross-cultural validity and reliability (Ne et al., 2008). In the present
study, we used a Norwegian translation of the SCS (Dundas et al., 2015). Chronbach’s α for the
total SCS in the present study was .91.
Symptom checklist revised (SCL-90-R), depression subscale
The SCL-90-R (Derogatis, Lipman, & Covi, 1973) is a 90-item self-report inventory that measures
psychiatric problems, and consists of eight subscales. The 13-item depression subscale aims to
reect several core symptoms of depression, e.g., low aect and lack of interest. Respondents
indicate how often each symptom has occurred during the last sevendays, by ranging each item
on a ve-point likert-type scale, where 0 indicates “not at all” and 4 indicates “very much.” In the
present study, we used a Norwegian translation of the depression subscale, which has shown
good psychometric properties, and correlated satisfactorily with two related scales: the Neurot-
icism scale in the personality inventory NEO-PI (r = .65, p < .001); and the Giessen Subjective
Complaints List (GSCL; r=.64, p<.001; Vassend, Lian, & Andersen, 1992). Chronbach’s α for the
SCL90-R was .91.
Statistical analyses were conducted using Statistica version 12 and Statistical Package for the
Social Sciences (SPSS; IMB, 2011) version 20.0. All variables had a skewness within plus/minus
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1, except SCL-90 which had a skewness of 1.3, indicating a majority of low scores. This is to be
expected in a non-clinical sample and no transformations were performed.
A bootstrapping procedure was used to test the signicance of the indirect path between the
independent and the dependent variables (Preacher & Hayes, 2004; 2008). The bootstrapping
procedure produces a condence interval based on an empirically derived sampling distribution.
In this way, no assumption about the shape of the distribution is made (Preacher & Hayes, 2004).
We used a macro for SPSS called Indirect, which is developed by Preacher and Hayes (2008). The
macro Indirect also tests whether one of the mediation paths are stronger than the other. This
“contrast eect” is dened as the cross-product of one path minus the cross-product of the other
Table 1 shows demographics. Women reported more depressive symptoms than men (r= .24,
p<.001), but did not dier from men in mindfulness (r=.02). Age was unrelated to depression
(r=.04), rumination (r=−.11), self-compassion (r=.02), and mindfulness (r=.04). Most partici-
pants (77%) were not familiar with mindfulness.
Correlations between variables in the study
Table 2 shows Pearson’s product–moment correlations between the variables in the study.
FFMQ correlated signicantly with SCL-90 (p<.001), and with each of the proposed mediators:
Table 1. Demographic variables.
Total (N=277) Missing
Mean age (SD) 21.6 (2.2) 25. 4 (4.3) 23.5 (4.1) 22.9 (3.6) 3.6%
Gender (female 72.3% 56.9% 23.1% 56.0% 2.2%
Knowledge of
None 73.7% 80.4% 92.2% 77.0%
Knows concept,
no practice
10.1% 7.1% 0.0% 6.9%
Practices month-
ly or more
16.2% 12.5% 7.8% 13.0%
Table 2. Pearson product-moment correlations between the variables in the model.
Depression (SCL-90) Mindfulness (FFMQ) Self-compassion (SCS)
Mindfulness (FFMQ) −.43**
Self-compassion (SCS) −.59** .64**
Rumination (RRQ-Rum) .55** −.49** −.61**
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RRQ-Rum (p<.001) and SCS (p<.001). The proposed mediators correlated signicantly with SCL-
90 (RRQ-Rum: p<.001, SCS: p<.001). There was a strong negative correlation between SCS and
RRQ-Rum (, p<.001).
Table 3 shows the results of a mediation analysis using a bootstrapping procedure with two
mediators in the model (SCS and RRQ-Rum). Results showed that both the path via RRQ-Rum
(ß= −.2 [−.2, −.1]) and the path via SCS (ß=−.2 [−.4, −.2]) were signicant and unique media-
tors of the association between FFMQ and SCL-90-r. None of the paths via the mediators were
stronger than the other (contrast eect=.1, p=.2).
Missing data
Five cases were excluded because they did not reach the criteria of having more than 80% of
the items completed on all questionnaires. The remaining missing data were few and scattered.
In instances where more than 80% of a scale had been completed, missing data were imputed
by a k-nearest neighbor procedure. In instances where less than 80% of a scale had been com-
pleted (14 cases, that is 5% of the total sample), these data were not imputed, and the cases were
excluded listwise in the analyses. The scales at the end of the package of questionnaires had a
greater chance of being left uncompleted. Other than this, we could not see any clear patterns
in missing scales.
The aim of the present study was to examine the roles of rumination and self-compassion as
mediators of the association between mindfulness and depressive symptoms. We found sup-
port for our rst hypothesis that both rumination and self-compassion were mediators of the
relationship. This is in accordance with prior ndings that rumination (e.g., Jain et al., 2007; Coey
& Hartman, 2008; Labelle et al., 2010; Heeren & Philippot, 2011) and self-compassion (Kuyken
et al., 2010) may be mediators of the association between mindfulness and depressive symptoms.
We also found support for our second hypothesis that the path via self-compassion explained
variance in depression beyond that which could be explained by the path via rumination.
Table 3. Self-compassion (SCS) and rumination (RRQ-Rum) as mediators between mindfulness (FFMQ) and
depressive symptoms (SCL-90-R; N=268).
Note: FFMQ=Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire, SCS=Self-Compassion Scale, RRQ-Rum=Rumination-Reection Scale
Rumination subscale, dependent variable (DV)=symptom checklist revised, depression subscale (SCL-90-r).
Mediator Path a (IV
to media-
Path b
to de-
Path c
eect of IV
on DV)
eect of IV
on DV)
CI lower CI upper
FFMQ SCS .64* −.37* −.43* −.047
−.24 −.35 −.15
RRQ-Rum −.48* .30* −.15 −.22 −.08
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However, the path via rumination in turn explained variance beyond that which could be
explained by the path via self-compassion. None of the proposed mediators were more important
than the other. Thus, the results indicate that both self-compassion and rumination contribute in
explaining the eect of mindfulness on depressive symptoms. This implies that understanding
both the process of rumination and self-compassion is important in order to understand how
mindfulness may work in reducing depressive symptoms.
What are the implications of the present results for our understanding of the relationship
between mindfulness, rumination, self-compassion, and depressive symptoms? Perhaps mind-
fulness may be a rst step in responding to depressive thoughts and feelings in a way that ena-
bles self-compassion to take the place of destructive rumination. Ne (2011) suggested that in
order for individuals to give compassion to themselves, they rst need to recognize that they
are suering. She noted that “we can’t heal what we can’t feel” (p. 80). As mindfulness may help
individuals notice and accept the present as it is, mindful individuals are more likely to be aware
of the moments in which they need self-compassion and the moments in which they ruminate.
In contrast, individuals who tend to ignore or repress present moment experiences may not be
consciously aware of their automatic rumination or of their need for self-compassion. Whereas
rumination seems to be a habitual and automatic pattern, self-compassion implies an intentional
act of kindness toward the self. Moreover, rumination is focused on cognitive aspects of pain, for
example, thinking “why was I so stupid?”. Self-compassion, on the other hand, broadens aware-
ness to emotional and bodily aspects, such as feeling the hurt of having failed, and trying to
soothe oneself. In this way, self-compassion may be a mindful alternative to rumination, and the
two may represent opposite response styles. This assumption is supported by the high negative
correlation between self-compassion and rumination found in the present study. It is also in line
with previous ndings that greater self-compassion was related to less rumination (Ne, 2003a;
Ne, Kirkpatrick, & Rude, 2007; Ne & Vonk, 2009). A mindful attitude may help individuals avoid
getting caught up in ruminative thoughts about negative events or one’s failures, and instead
respond in a more self-compassionate manner by directing attention and kindness toward the
feelings of being hurt. This shift from rumination to self-compassion may in turn make depressive
symptoms less likely to occur.
When learning to cope with depression through mindfulness, one does not, however, aim for
an absolute absence of rumination. Instead, a mindful and healthy stance includes a recognition
of one’s rumination as “events in the mind,” which can be approached with a self-compassionate
attitude. Over time, this may reduce any tendencies to mistake ruminative thoughts as direct
reections of reality. In the long run, the frequency of such thoughts may then diminish.
In the present study, the focus was on rumination and self-compassion. Although both seem
to be central mechanisms of change in mindfulness, the relationship between these variables
and other proposed mediators is not known. For example, rumination and self- compassion
may theoretically represent two types of emotion regulation eorts (where self-compassion is
presumed to be more conducive to mental health than rumination). Also, a higher capacity for
attention regulation, or meta-cognitive skills, may explain how mindfulness reduces rumination
and depression. In order to obtain a broader picture of potential mediators of mindfulness
and their relationship to each other, future research should take more potential mediators
into consideration in the same model, preferably using longitudinal designs. This might reveal
any shared variance between potential mediators and contribute to a better understanding of
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possible causal relationships in the processes that mediate between mindfulness and depression
(van der Velden et al., 2015).
The results of the present study may have some implications for clinicians who wish to incor-
porate mindfulness in their work. The nding that mindfulness may work both via the pathway
of lower levels of rumination and the pathway of higher levers of self-compassion is probably
well-known to many mindfulness teachers and therapists. However, mindfulness teachers or
therapists may vary in how explicitly they address self-compassion. Ne and Germer (2013)
are proponents of addressing self-compassion directly. Others may place a greater emphasis
on addressing rumination. Patients may dier in which pathway to reduced depression works
best for them. For some, directly cultivating a self-compassionate attitude may be preferable.
For others, cognitively oriented techniques directed toward ruminative tendencies may be more
useful. Segal, Williams, and Teasdale (2002) have demonstrated how mindfulness suits the cog-
nitive therapy tradition, and the MBCT program incorporates a focus on the negative conse-
quences of rumination. Self-compassion training (e.g., Mindful Self-Compassion; Ne & Germer,
2013) may represent a more emotion-focused approach to depressive tendencies than the MBCT
tradition. Familiarity with both cognitive approaches to reduce rumination and knowledge of
approaches to cultivate self-compassion may increase therapists’ opportunities to tailor mindful-
ness approaches to the individual needs and characteristics of each patient.
The present study has several limitations. First, it uses a cross-sectional design, which does
not permit conclusions with regard to causality (Mathieu & Taylor, 2006; Kazdin, 2007). Second,
it relies on self-report measures only. Third, the current sample consists of students enrolled in
higher education, with low average age and a small age range, reducing generalizability to other
age populations and other age ranges.
In the present study, rumination and self-compassion were found to be mediators of the asso-
ciation between mindfulness and depressive symptoms. Both rumination and self-compassion
explained independent variance in the association between mindfulness and depressive symp-
toms, indicating that both concepts are important in order to understand how mindfulness
works to reduce depressive symptoms.
Ethical approval
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the
ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964
Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
Disclosure statement
No potential conict of interest was reported by the authors.
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... Self-compassion is the offering of feelings of kindness or care towards oneself when experiencing suffering and recognising that suffering, personal failures or felt inadequacies are part of being human (Neff, 2003). When having made a mistake, or feeling hurt, it is common for a person experiencing stress or feelings of anxiety to react with selfcriticism and blame, which can lead to a re-activation of avoidant coping responses (Svendsen et al., 2017). The CBPM identifies that increased self-compassion, which is strengthened through regular mindfulness practice, will likely reduce Jane's avoidance of potentially stressful events, thoughts or emotions (e.g. through worry and/ or rumination), that may threaten her self-esteem, by stressors as arising and passing in the moment, which would allow a lowering of attachment and identification with these thoughts and emotions (Chambers et al., 2009;Lynch et al., 2015). ...
... This involves attending to the difficult stressful thought or emotion (e.g. memories of her experience of violence in the past) that is causing current suffering with an active wish to relieve the suffering (self-kindness), acknowledged through positive reappraisal (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984), that everyone experiences difficult thoughts and emotions from time to time (common humanity) (Neff, 2003;Svendsen et al., 2017). This approach oriented coping strategy could help Jane to realise that having these stressful thoughts or emotions (e.g. ...
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It is clear from the international social work literature that social workers experience high levels of stress and burnout due to the cognitive, emotional and physical demands of the profession. There are however no integrative theories, developed by social workers, on how this stress, burnout and its impact on the emotional and psychological well-being of social workers can be ameliorated and then improved. This article makes an original contribution to this literature by proposing the use of the clinically modified Buddhist psychological model, as a beneficial lens for understanding how to improve reflective practice in social work along with the feelings of stress, burnout, anxiety, low mood and well-being deficits that can result from social work practice. This paper will outline the rationale for the development of the clinically modified Buddhist psychological model, before outlining the theory itself and how it might support stress coping processes and reflective social work practice. This paper has significance for all social workers, social work students and social work educators, as it provides a theory which could help to inform improved reflective social work practice and self-care.
... Considering that individuals with low tolerance to emotional distress have judgmental thoughts or self-evaluative expressions, they can be expected to use harmful coping styles such as self-blame and self-rumination. These results conform with other findings indicating the negative relations between mindfulness and rumination (Shapiro et al., 2007;Svendsen et al., 2017), and the effect of mindfulness and mindfulness-based interventions in terms of reducing rumination (Heeren & Philippot, 2011;Matsumoto & Mochizuki, 2018;Teasdale et al., 1995). Contrary to rumination that reflects over occupation and integrity by negative experience, mindfulness creates decentered perspective as a paradoxical process by increasing openness towards experiences, objectivity, and intimacy (Luberto et al., 2014). ...
... Considering that mindfulness reflects a more receptive and open attitude to inner experiences (Hayes & Feldman, 2004), it can enable the individuals to approach themselves in a more positive and compassionate way. Some findings supported that mindfulness reduce self-punishment and increase selfcompassion (Shapiro et al., 2007;Svendsen et al., 2017). ...
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The purpose of this study was to investigate the mediating role of mindfulness in the relationship between emotional distress tolerance and coping styles of Turkish university students. The sample of the study included 453 undergraduate students from a public university in Turkey. Participants completed the R-COPE, Distress Tolerance Scale, Cognitive and Affective Mindfulness Scale-Revised and a demographic data form. In the analysis of the data, a regression-oriented mediatory macro technique was performed, and the bootstrap procedure was employed for the mediation effect analysis. The results showed that emotional distress tolerance was associated to self-help, approach, accommodation, and self-punishment coping style with the mediating role of mindfulness. However, avoidance coping style directly predicted emotional distress tolerance without the mediation role of mindfulness. Implications for researchers and college counsellors are discussed.
... A final point of interest in the present study was whether trait mindfulness may protect against impaired emotional processing of positive autobiographical memories through reducing rumination and self-incongruency for these memories. Previous research has demonstrated that individuals with high trait mindfulness report less habitual rumination than individuals with low trait mindfulness (e.g., Chambers et al., 2015;Desrosiers et al., 2013;Svendsen et al., 2017), and that high mindfulness skills in remitted depressed individuals may protect against brooding in response to autobiographical memories, when these come to mind involuntarily (Isham et al., 2020). There is also evidence for a similar relationship between mindfulness and measures of self-congruency. ...
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Instructed retrieval of positive autobiographical memories typically improves mood for healthy individuals, but not always for depressed individuals. No mood improvement may occur when depressed individuals retrieve positive memories that are self-incongruent, or when they ruminate upon positive memory retrieval. Mindfulness is associated with lower self-incongruency and rumination. The present study examined whether recurrent depression predicted emotional experience upon involuntary and voluntary retrieval of positive memories, and whether recurrent depression and trait mindfulness were associated with emotional experience upon positive memory retrieval through state rumination and self-incongruency. Recurrently and never-depressed individuals completed measures of depression, trait mindfulness, and a diary for reporting on everyday positive memories. Recurrently depressed individuals reported diminished happiness upon retrieving involuntary and voluntary positive memories compared to never-depressed individuals; and greater sadness upon involuntary positive memory retrieval, independent of current depression. Recurrent depression was associated with diminished happiness upon involuntary memory retrieval and greater sadness upon involuntary and voluntary positive memory retrieval, through state brooding, self-incongruency, or both. Higher trait mindfulness was associated with lower sadness upon involuntary and voluntary positive memory retrieval through state brooding and reflection. These findings highlight potential mechanisms in the relationship between depression vulnerability and emotional processing of positive autobiographical memories.
... Mindfulness skills include attending to, regulating, and enhancing the curiosity and acceptance of the full gamut of presentmoment experiences, anchoring one's awareness of their physical sensations (e.g., breath, body), emotions, and cognitions [66]. Skill development appears to instigate other mechanisms that can reduce distress and promote resilience such as improved emotional control and self-regulation [67], value clarification [68], body and introspective awareness [69], self-compassion [70], and shifts in self-perspective [71,72]. MBRT and mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) appear to mitigate negative health outcomes through enhanced coping [73], augmented wellness [74], and self-efficacy [55], as well as decreased symptoms of burnout [55,74], negative affect [54], and health complaints [54]. ...
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Background—Public safety personnel (PSP) are at heightened risk of developing mental health challenges due to exposures to diverse stressors including potentially psychologically traumatic experiences. An increased focus on protecting PSP mental health has prompted demand for interventions designed to enhance resilience. While hundreds of available interventions are aimed to improve resilience and protect PSPs’ mental health, research evidence regarding intervention effectiveness remains sparse. Methods—Focus groups with PSP elicited a discussion of psychoeducational program content, preferred modes of program delivery, when such training should occur, and to whom it ought to be targeted. Results—The results of thematic analyses suggest that PSP participants feel that contemporary approaches to improving mental health and resilience are lacking. While welcomed, the provision of sporadic one-off mental health and resilience programs by organizations was seen as insufficient, and the available organizational mental health supports were perceived as being questionable. The available programs also left participants feeling insufficiently prepared to deal with personal mental health problems and in discussing mental health concerns with co-workers. Conclusions—Participants reported needing more engaging methods for delivering information, career-long mental health knowledge acquisition, and a systems approach to improve the workplace culture, particularly regarding mental health.
... Third, as theorized, reduced levels of self-criticism following MBTR-R mediated therapeutic effects of MBTR-R on PTSD and depression outcomes; likewise, elevation in self-compassion mediated the effects of MBTR-R on PTSD, but not on depression. Findings are consistent with initial evidence for the role of selfcompassion in MBIs (Keng et al., 2012;Sevel et al., 2020;Svendsen et al., 2017) as well as in compassion training (Hoffart et al., 2015). Yet, observed findings are the first randomized control evidence of the mediating role of self-compassion in mindfulness-based training for trauma recovery outcomes (Winders et al., 2020). ...
Objective: Mindfulness- and compassion-based interventions may represent a promising intervention approach to the global mental health crisis of forced displacement. Specifically, Mindfulness-Based Trauma Recovery for Refugees (MBTR-R)-a mindfulness- and compassion-based, trauma-sensitive, and socioculturally adapted intervention for refugees and asylum-seekers-has recently demonstrated randomized control evidence of therapeutic efficacy and safety. Yet, little is known about potential mechanisms underlying these therapeutic effects for trauma recovery and for refugees and asylum-seekers. Method: Thus, we examined adaptive and maladaptive forms of self-referentiality, namely self-compassion and self-criticism, as mechanisms of action for trauma recovery in a randomized wait-list control trial of MBTR-R among a community sample of 158 traumatized and chronically stressed asylum-seekers (46% female) in an urban postdisplacement setting (Middle East). Self-compassion and self-criticism were measured vis-à-vis an experimental Self-Referential Encoding Task (SRET) designed to quantify cognitive processes underlying self-compassion and self-criticism using diffusion modeling, a computational modeling approach to quantify cognitive processes underlying decision-making from behavioral reaction time data. Results: Findings indicate that self-compassion and self-criticism were associated with trauma- and stress-related psychopathology at preintervention. Relative to wait-list controls, MBTR-R led to significant elevation in self-compassion, and reduction in self-criticism, from pre to postintervention. Finally, pre to postintervention change in self-criticism significantly mediated therapeutic effects of MBTR-R on depression and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) outcomes, while pre to postintervention change in self-compassion only mediated therapeutic effects on PTSD outcomes. Conclusions: Findings speak to the importance of (mal)adaptive self-referentiality as a target mechanism in MBIs and trauma recovery broadly, and among refugees and asylum-seekers specifically. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2022 APA, all rights reserved).
Previous studies have explored the effect of mindfulness on life satisfaction, but the mechanism has not been explored in terms of daily mindfulness. Therefore, based on the mindfulness coping model, this study uses a daily diary method to examine whether individuals’ daily mindfulness could predict life satisfaction and whether this relationship was mediated by rumination. In this study, 178 adults who had not received mindfulness training completed the same diary for continuous 14 days, in which their mindfulness and rumination at state level were measured. Besides, mindfulness, rumination, and life satisfaction at dispositional level were measured before and after the daily reporting process. Hierarchical linear models showed that daily mindfulness is a significant predictor of daily rumination. In addition, both the latent growth curve model and structural equation model showed that the change of daily mindfulness can influence life satisfaction through the change of rumination, and this relationship was also confirmed at the dispositional level. These findings are not only valuable for understanding how mindfulness is linked to rumination and life satisfaction according to the mindfulness coping model, but also contribute to the development of psychological intervention programs aimed at improving individual life satisfaction.
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Background The societal challenges presented by fear related to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic may present unique challenges for an individual's mental health. However, the moderating role of compassion in the relationship between fear of COVID-19 and mental health has not been well-studied. The present study aimed to explore the association between fear of COVID-19 and mental health, as well as test the buffering role of compassion in this relationship. Methods The participants in this study were 325 Iranian undergraduate students (228 females), aged 18–25 years, who completed questionnaires posted on social networks via a web-based platform. Results The results showed that fear of COVID-19 was positively related with physical symptoms, social function, depressive symptoms, and anxiety symptoms. The results also showed that compassion was negatively associated with physical symptoms, social function, depressive symptoms, and anxiety symptoms. The interaction-moderation analysis revealed that compassion moderated the relationship between fear of COVID-19 and subscale of mental health. Conclusion Results highlight the important role of compassion in diminishing the effect of fear of COVID-19 on the mental health (physical symptoms, social function, depressive symptoms, and anxiety symptoms) of undergraduate students.
The mindfulness-based social work and self-care (MBSWSC) programme was created in order to support social work students and practitioners to develop enhanced social work and self-care skills. This programme was found to improve feelings of stress, anxiety, mental well-being and burnout of thirty social work students. An explanatory sequential mixed methods design was chosen in order to generate a comprehensive understanding of what the potential mechanisms of action of MBSWSC might be. Data were collected using validated quantitative measures and through an open-ended qualitative questionnaire. The quantitative data were analysed using regression analyses. The qualitative data were thematically analysed. Though this study contains limitations, it’s results suggest that social work student stress, feelings of burnout, anxiety and wellbeing can be improved by supporting students to develop approach-oriented stress coping skills and capacities in acceptance, mindfulness, self-compassion, non-attachment, attention regulation/decentering and non-aversion. This study suggests that these skills and capacities can work individually or collectively to directly improve these outcomes and also indirectly by reducing a student’s tendency to think negatively when they are stressed. The results provide some preliminary evidence on what the mechanisms of MBSWSC might be, enhancing our understanding of how mindfulness-based programmes might achieve positive outcomes.
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Due to the increase the elderly population, issues related to the health and quality of life of this age group are worse than any other age group. The purpose of the present study was «Comparison of Effectiveness of the Four -Factor Model of Mindfulness and Self-Compassion on Life Satisfaction and Resilience of Elderly Women». Research method was semi-experimental with pre-test and post-test design with control and follow-up groups. The statistical population consisted of 473 elderly women who were under rehabilitation, education and care with welfare -organizationʼs supervision in Guilan province in 2020 in nursing homes, rehabilitation, education and care centers. A sample of 45 individuals were selected by purposeful sampling method and divided into three groups of 15 member each. For first experimental group, 8 sessions of Kabat – zinn's mindfulness training and for the other experimental group, 8 sessions of Gilbert's self-compassion training were performed. There was no intervention in the control group. Participants were evaluated in three groups at pre-test, post-test and follow-up stages using Diner et al's Life Satisfaction Questionnaire.and Conner & David Son's Resilience Questionnaire. multi-variate Analysis of variance was used to analyze the results. The results showed that the 4-factor model of mindfulness had an effect on life satisfaction and resilience of older women in the post-test (p <0.05), and this effect was permanent in the follow up phase (p <0.05). The results also showed that self-compassion had an effect on life satisfaction and resilience of elderly women in the post-test (p <0.05), and this effect was lasting in the follow-up phase (p <0.05). The results also showed that the effectiveness of the four-factor model of mindfulness and self-compassion was different on resilience and life satisfaction of older women and the contribution of the four-factor model of mindfulness was greater in the variance of resilience and life satisfaction rather than self-compassion. Therefore, these interventions can be used effectively in nursing homes as part of treatment programs. Therefore, these interventions can be used effectively in nursing homes. Key Words: Mindfulness, Self - Compassion, Satisfaction with Life, Resilience, Elderly Women
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Background: The role of rejection sensitivity (RS; the tendency to anxiously expect, readily perceive, and overreact to implied or overt interpersonal rejection) in psychopathology has mainly been studied with regard to borderline personality disorder (BPD). In the present study, we first sought to extend previous evidence of heightened RS in a clinical group with psychiatric disorders other than BPD, when compared with a community sample. Then, we tested whether emotion dysregulation and mindfulness were associated with RS in both sample, further hypothesizing that emotion dysregulation would mediate the relation between mindfulness deficits and RS. Subjects and methods: We adopted a cross-sectional design involving 191 psychiatric patients and 277 community participants (total N=468). All participants completed the Rejection Sensitivity Questionnaire, the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire, and the Difficulties in Emotion Regulation Scale. Results: Our hypotheses were supported, with psychiatric patients reporting greater levels of rejection sensitivity and emotion dysregulation, and lower level of mindfulness. Mindfulness deficits and emotion dysregulation explained a significant amount of variance in RS, in both samples. Finally, bootstrap analyses revealed that mindfulness deficits played an indirect effect on RS through the mediating role of emotion dysregulation. In particular, two different patterns emerged. Among psychiatric patients, an impairment in the ability to assume a non-judgmental stance towards own thoughts and feelings was related to RS through the mediation of limited access to emotion regulation strategies. Conversely, in the community sample, overall emotion dysregulation mediated the effect of lack of attention and awareness for present activities and experience on RS. Conclusions: Longitudinal studies could help in delineating etiological models of RS, and the joint role of deficits in mindfulness and emotion regulation should inform treatment programs.
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A distinction between ruminative and reflective types of private self-attentiveness is introduced and evaluated with respect to L. R. Goldberg's (1982) list of 1,710 English trait adjectives (Study 1), the five-factor model of personality (FFM) and A. Fenigstein, M. F. Scheier, and A. Buss's(1975) Self-Consciousness Scales (Study 2), and previously reported correlates and effects of private self-consciousness (PrSC; Studies 3 and 4). Results suggest that the PrSC scale confounds two unrelated motivationally distinct disposition-rumination and reflection-and that this confounding may account for the "self-absorption paradox" implicit in PrSC research findings: Higher PrSC sources are associated with more accurate and extensive self-knowledge yet higher levels of psychological distress. The potential of the FFM to provide a comprehensive Framework for conceptualizing self-attentive dispositions, and to order and integrate research findings within this domain, is discussed.
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The investigation of treatment mechanisms in randomized controlled trials has considerable clinical and theoretical relevance. Despite the empirical support for the effect of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) in the treatment of recurrent major depressive disorder (MDD), the specific mechanisms by which MBCT leads to therapeutic change remain unclear. By means of a systematic review we evaluate how the field is progressing in its empirical investigation of mechanisms of change in MBCT for recurrent MDD. To identify relevant studies, a systematic search was conducted. Studies were coded and ranked for quality. The search produced 476 articles, of which 23 were included. In line with the theoretical premise, 12 studies found that alterations in mindfulness, rumination, worry, compassion, or meta-awareness were associated with, predicted or mediated MBCT's effect on treatment outcome. In addition, preliminary studies indicated that alterations in attention, memory specificity, self-discrepancy, emotional reactivity and momentary positive and negative affect might play a role in how MBCT exerts its clinical effects. The results suggest that MBCT could work through some of the MBCT model's theoretically predicted mechanisms. However, there is a need for more rigorous designs that can assess greater levels of causal specificity. Copyright © 2015. Published by Elsevier Ltd.
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We assessed college students' mindfulness skills (Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire; Baer, Smith, Hopkins, Krietemeyer, & Toney, 2006) and depressive symptoms (Beck Depression Inventory-II; Beck, Steer, & Brown, 1996) early in the semester and during midterms and finals, two periods of likely academic stress. As predicted, acting with awareness, nonreactivity, and nonjudging were inversely related to depressive symptoms over the course of the semester. In contrast, observing was directly related to depressive symptoms at time one and two. The mindfulness skill of describing failed to show any significant relation to depressive symptoms during the semester. When we considered all four mindfulness skills simultaneously, nonreactivity and nonjudging skills underpinned the inverse relation between mindfulness and depressive symptoms across all time periods. High levels of observing were only associated with higher levels of depressive symptoms when individuals were low in nonreactivity. Accordingly, mindfulness skills may mitigate depressive symptoms because they promote objectively and nonreactively, thereby counteracting rumination.
Excessive self-criticism is common to many mental health problems, including depression. Theoretically, positive self-compassion may work to prevent depression by protecting against the proliferation of self-condemning responses. A sample of Norwegian university students (N = 277, mean age = 22.9 years, SD = 3.5 years, 56% women) completed the Self-Compassion Scale (SCS) and the SCL-90 Depression subscale. Items of the three positive SCS-subscales (self-kindness, mindfulness, and common humanity) and items of the three negative SCS subscales (self-judgment, over-identification, and isolation) were combined to provide measures of Positive Self-Compassion and Self-Condemnation respectively. A moderation analysis indicated that the association between Self-Condemnation and Depressive Symptoms was weaker for individuals high in positive self-compassion, as expected. Bootstrap mediation analyses (conducted separately in groups scoring high and low in positive self-compassion) suggested that, in individuals high in positive self-compassion, self-compassion worked to reduce depressive symptoms by inversely affecting self-condemnation. When positive self-compassion was low, however, only Self-Condemnation predicted Depressive Symptoms. These results suggest that when positive self-compassion is above a certain level, it can keep self-condemning responses in check. If positive self-compassion is too weak, however, something else is needed, perhaps understanding input from another person.
Major depressive disorder is a significant mental illness that is highly likely to recur, particularly after three or more previous episodes. Increased mindfulness and decreased rumination have both been associated with decreased depressive relapse. The aim of this study was to investigate whether rumination mediates the relationship between mindfulness and depressive relapse. This prospective design involved a secondary data analysis for identifying causal mechanisms using mediation analysis. This study was embedded in a pragmatic randomized controlled trial of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) in which 203 participants (165 females, 38 males; mean age: 48 years), with a history of at least three previous episodes of depression, completed measures of mindfulness, rumination, and depressive relapse over a 2-year follow-up period. Specific components of mindfulness and rumination, being nonjudging and brooding, respectively, were also explored. While higher mindfulness scores predicted reductions in rumination and depressive relapse, the relationship between mindfulness and relapse was not found to be mediated by rumination, although there appeared to be a trend. Our results strengthen the argument that mindfulness may be important in preventing relapse but that rumination is not a significant mediator of its effects. The study was adequately powered to detect medium mediation effects, but it is possible that smaller effects were present but not detected. Mindfulness may be one of several components of MBCT contributing to prevention of depressive relapse. Although the original rationale for MBCT rested largely on a model of relapse causally linked to rumination, our findings suggest that the mechanism by which mindfulness impacts relapse is more complex than a simple effect on rumination. © 2015 The British Psychological Society.
This article defines the construct of self-compassion and describes the development of the Self-Compassion Scale. Self-compassion entails being kind and understanding toward oneself in instances of pain or failure rather than being harshly self-critical; perceiving one's experiences as part of the larger human experience rather than seeing them as isolating; and holding painful thoughts and feelings in mindful awareness rather than over-identifying with them. Evidence for the validity and reliability of the scale is presented in a series of studies. Results indicate that self-compassion is significantly correlated with positive mental health outcomes such as less depression and anxiety and greater life satisfaction. Evidence is also provided for the discriminant validity of the scale, including with regard to self-esteem measures.