Purpose: Evidence suggests that self-compassion may be beneficial to older adults who are struggling to cope with the aging process. The purpose of this study was to assess the thoughts of self-compassionate older adults and to determine whether self-compassionate thoughts relate to positive responses to aging.
Design and methods: Participants (n = 121, M = 76.2 years, approximately 65% female) completed measures of self-compassion and self-esteem; were randomly assigned to write about a positive, negative, or neutral age-related event; and completed questions about the event and their reactions. Responses were coded for self-compassionate themes and emotional tone.
Results: Analyses indicated that self-compassion predicted positive responses to aging and that self-compassionate thoughts explained the relationship between trait self-compassion and emotional tone as well as the belief that one's attitude helped them cope with age-related events.
Implications: Although older adults who were low versus high in self-compassion experienced similar age-related events, participants high in self-compassion thought about these events in ways that predicted positive outcomes. Encouraging older adults to be more self-compassionate may improve well-being in old age.
Keywords: Aging; Coping; Self-compassion; Self-esteem.