Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 20, Issue 3, pp 971–994 | Cite as

Self-Compassion: A Potential Shield Against Extreme Self-Reliance?

  • Ping Ying Choo
  • Jacob M. MarszalekEmail author
Research Paper


Can self-compassion protect young adults from the pitfalls of self-reliance? Emerging adults undergo a process of exploring their identities and establishing significant relationships that is vulnerable to stressors. Extreme self-reliance exacerbates this because of a lack of access to emotional support, threatening their well-being. Self-compassion facilitates emotional regulation and enhanced coping, which may protect young adults’ well-being from the consequences of self-reliance. We explored (a) the relationships among self-reliance, self-compassion and its elements (i.e., self-kindness, self-judgment, mindfulness, over-identification, common humanity, and isolation), and well-being, and (b) the potential of self-compassion as either a buffer or a mediator of the relationship between self-reliance and well-being. At an urban Midwestern public university, we recruited 208 young adults aged between 18 and 30 years (M = 21.94, SD = 3.49) with diverse backgrounds. We found that self-reliance, self-judgment, over-identification, and isolation were moderately-to-strongly negatively correlated with well-being, and that self-kindness, mindfulness, and common humanity were moderately-to-strongly (i.e., .30 < r < .63) positively correlated with well-being. Although we found no evidence that self-compassion acts as a buffer, we found good correlational evidence via path analysis that it acts as a mediator. Our findings suggest that the potential threat of extreme self-reliance to young adults’ well-being may be partially explained by self-kindness, mindfulness, and isolation.


Self-reliance Self-compassion Well-being Protective factor Buffering Moderation Mediation 


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Counseling and Educational PsychologyUniversity of Missouri-Kansas CityKansas CityUSA

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