Adjusting Identities When Times Change: The Role of Self-Compassion

in Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology
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Adjusting identity standards may be preferable to relentless pursuit or abandonment of an identity when facing an identity-challenging life transition. Self-compassion (SC) can help people adjust to challenges. The authors examined whether SC was associated with identity adjustment, exercise, and the moderating effect of identity–behavior discrepancy in 279 women exercisers who reported reduced exercise in motherhood. Participants completed the Self-Compassion Scale and reported the extent of and reflected on their identity discrepant behavior (reduced exercise). Reactions to discrepancy (acceptance, shame, guilt, and rumination), correlates of identity adjustment (subjective well-being, autonomous motivation, controlled motivation, and role conflict), and exercise behavior were assessed. SC associated positively with acceptance, correlates of successful identity adjustment, and exercise behavior. SC associated negatively with shame, rumination, and correlates of unsuccessful adjustment. SC may help exercise-identifying women who exercise less after becoming mothers adaptively cope with this identity challenge and continue exercising.

Kullman, Semenchuk, Schellenberg, and Strachan are with the Faculty of Kinesiology and Recreation Management, and Ceccarelli, the Dept. of Psychology, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB, Canada.

Kullman (kullmans@myumanitoba.ca) is corresponding author.

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