Welcome to part four of my self-compassion series – Learning to Love Yourself. You can check out the first three parts by clicking on the links below.
How would you like to my learn more about how you can actually measure your own levels of self-compassion, become a little bit acquainted with Clinical Psychology as way more than the pseudoscience it is often portrayed to be, and get to know a little bit more of the nerdy scientist in me?
My attraction to Clinical Psychology many moons ago (20 years to the exact. Where on earth did that time go?), was not only due to my inquisitiveness towards human nature and desire to help others, but also the intricate science behind it all. There are reasons as to why we pull apart so many psychological concepts, theories and models. Thoroughly analysed concepts, lead to thoroughly analysed theories, which can be applied to create effective therapeutic treatment methods. The amount of research that has to be conducted to go from the former to the latter is immense, and even then like any medical science is far from without its flaws.
Once we begin to understand a particular psychological concept, such as self-compassion in this case, we can evaluate its impact on psychological factors such as human behaviour, thoughts and emotions, and biological factors, such as its impact on our brains and neurological system. When it comes to clinical practice, we can ensure the principles can be applied to therapeutic treatment in a way that is most effective.
Part of this is education and continuously learning from each other – health professionals and patients alike – hence why I talk so much about what self-compassion is and what it is not, and like to hear from people from as many different walks of life as possible. Then of course the second part for us all is self-awareness, and learning new psychological tools to help us navigate through this tumultuous life.
Even from reading and writing about self-compassion this past few weeks, I have became increasingly aware off how frequently I get lost in the path of self-deprecation, and when trying to apply self-compassion often get even more lost, yet again misinterpreting in my head what it truly is. I get caught up in a spiral so common, which is to believe that if I am self-compassionate it will mean somehow letting myself off the hook, not keeping myself accountable and ultimately hindering myself somehow from becoming healthier again.
So bear with me, as you are exposed to the next part of my inherent psychological geekiness. The fact of the matter is that psychologists love to measure stuff, then evaluate it against a whole range of other stuff, that we have most likely also measured. The great thing is that the various measurements developed, if used properly, can also be fantastic tools to help us all to understand ourselves better and develop healthier relationships internally and externally.
I keep talking about Dr Kristin Neff, as she is one of the leading self-compassion experts worldwide. Although compassion towards ourselves, and not just others, has obviously been discussed within Buddhism for countless of centuries, Dr Neff was one of the first people to bring it into the western world of psychology. The East always has been ahead of us in terms of these kind of things!
Her passion to understand self-compassion better led to her developing a measure – the self-compassion scale – which she has kindly made freely available to the public, clinicians and researchers.
So without further ado, would you like to find out how self-compassionate you are?
All you have to do is click on the link below, fill in a short questionnaire online which will ask you to rate questions on a Likert scale from 1 to 5. Then all the hard work is done for you, with your results appearing on the screen accompanied by a short interpretation. The great thing is the questions asked not only give you insight into your relationship with yourself, but also help you understand self-compassion and the three elements it encapsulates: self kindness, common humanity and mindfulness.
If you feel able to share, I would love to hear about your experience of filling in the questionnaire, and what it told you about yourself. Perhaps you would like to share your score!
For any health professionals or people interested in some of the more academic side of things, I thought I would also include links to two recent research articles investigating whether the self-compassion scale is a valid and reliable measurement tool.
Neff, K. D. (2016). The Self-Compassion Scale is a valid and theoretically coherent measure of self-compassion. Mindfulness, 7, 264–274. Neff2016
Neff, K. D., Whittaker, T. & Karl, A. (2017). Evaluating the factor structure of the Self-Compassion Scale in four distinct populations: Is the use of a total self-compassion score justified? Journal of Personality Assessment, 99(6), 596-607. Neff2017
So there you go, a little bit of an exercise for you to do, and an introduction to the more scientific, nerdy side of me 🙂
That is me wiped, so time for a little bit of self care in the form of some sci-fi escapism I think!
Wishing you all a peaceful weekend
The Wounded Healer
Dr. Kristine Abercrombie, Clinical Psychologist