High self-esteem is a great thing to have, right? In sport and exercise, we think of self-esteem as vital in helping to maintain performance levels, as well as keeping up the motivation to push that little bit harder in the gym or while running on the soggy streets on a winter’s morning. We also think of performing well in sport and exercising regularly as ways of boosting self-esteem (e.g. Fox, 2000). Indeed, holding this assumption, as Mosewich et al (2011) note, there exists a body of research dedicated to identifying sport environments and instructional strategies to nurture positive self-esteem (Patterson, 1999; Weiss, 1993). The question is, though: are there any other types of self-concept that are as adaptive in sport and exercise, or possibly even more adaptive?
A highly promising potential affirmative answer lies with a pretty new concept to Western psychology: self-compassion.
By Fabio Zucchelli