Self-compassion has been found to promote well-being but research has yet to examine whether training in self-compassion improves self-regulation (Gilbert, 2005, 2009; Neff, 2003). The present study sought to examine the impact and moderators of a self-compassion intervention on the self-regulation of cigarette smoking. One hundred and twenty-six smokers seeking to quit were randomly assigned to one of four interventions, of which one involved engaging in selfcompassionate imagery and self-talk at every urge to smoke. Multilevel modeling revealed that over three weeks, the self-compassion intervention reduced daily smoking more quickly than a baseline self-monitoring condition but at the same rate as two other imagery-based self-talk interventions. Moderators of selfcompassion training emerged. The self-compassion intervention reduced smoking more rapidly if participants were low in readiness to change; were high in the trait of self-criticism; and had vivid imagery during the intervention exercises. Findings suggest that training oneself to self-regulate from a self-compassionate stance might be especially effective for individuals who are able to visualize a compassionate image and whose personality and motivation would be expected to undermine the impact of traditional treatments.
Kelly, A. C., Zuroff, D. C., Foa, C. L., & Gilbert, P. (2010). Who benefits from training in self-compassionate self-regulation? A study of smoking reduction. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 29(7), 727-755.