In a previous post two publications were mentioned which show that self-criticism hinders goal progress. Apparently this tough approach to oneself does not work. Does a kinder approach work better. New reseach shows that it does.


In The Surprising Motivational Power of Self-Compassion  four ways are mentioned in which self-compassion helps people:

  1. See the possibilities for change,
  2. Increase the motivation to change,
  3. Take steps towards making a change,
  4. Compare themselves with those doing better, to help motivate their change.


Here is the research on which this is based:

Self-Compassion Increases Self-Improvement Motivation

By Juliana G. Breines and Serena Chen

Abstract: Can treating oneself with compassion after making a mistake increase self-improvement motivation? In four experiments, the authors examined the hypothesis that self-compassion motivates people to improve personal weaknesses, moral transgressions, and test performance. Participants in a self-compassion condition, compared to a self-esteem control condition and either no intervention or a positive distraction control condition, expressed greater incremental beliefs about a personal weakness (Experiment 1); reported greater motivation to make amends and avoid repeating a recent moral transgression (Experiment 2); spent more time studying for a difficult test following an initial failure (Experiment 3); exhibited a preference for upward social comparison after reflecting on a personal weakness (Experiment 4); and reported greater motivation to change the weakness (Experiment 4). These findings suggest that, somewhat paradoxically, taking an accepting approach to personal failure may make people more motivated to improve themselves.

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