Past to Future: Self-Compassion Can Change our Vision

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Wendy J. Phillips


Self-Compassion, balanced time perspective, optimism, savouring, LIWC, and future-outlook.


Self-compassion is known to heighten our ability to manage past or present negative life events.  This study investigated whether self-compassion also influences future-outlook, by examining its effects on optimism, savouring-anticipating, balanced time perspective, use of future oriented words, and use of positively oriented affective words.  Australian students (Mage = 34.81, SD = 10.14) either wrote self-compassionately about a recent negative experience (n = 169) or completed a control writing task (n = 167).  Participants in the self-compassion condition generally reported a brighter future-outlook than control participants, but effects varied according to baseline trait self-compassion.  Participants with low trait self-compassion reported a more balanced time perspective and used more positively oriented affective words and future oriented words; whereas participants with high trait self-compassion scored higher only on savouring-anticipating and experienced decrements in balanced time perspective.  Unexpectedly, the self-compassion induction did not influence optimism.  This study is among the first to demonstrate that self-compassion can influence future-outlook.  As future-outlook has been associated with many positive health outcomes, these findings suggest that increases in positive future-outlook may represent another mechanism through which self-compassion conveys its positive effects on well-being.


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