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Relationship of Self-compassion with Thwarted Belongingness and Perceived Burdensomeness in American Indian/alaska Native People

Tielke, Sarah
In this study, the relationships of self-compassion (i.e., self-kindness, self-judgment, common humanity, isolation, mindfulness, and over-identification) with suicide risk factors of perceived burdensomeness and thwarted belongingness were explored in a sample of 236 American Indian/Alaska Native adults. Results indicated that negative aspects of self-compassion (i.e., self-judgment, isolation, over-identification) were associated with increased feelings of perceived burdensomeness and thwarted belongingness; positive aspects of self-compassion (i.e., self-kindness, common humanity, mindfulness) were associated with less perceived burdensomeness and thwarted belongingness among American Indian/Alaska Native peoples. In addition, American Indian/Alaska Native men who over-identified with their negative feelings tended to feel that they were a burden to others and didn't belong. American Indian/Alaska Native women who felt more isolated in their experiences did not feel that they belonged to their community or society. American Indian/Alaska Native adults with a previous history of suicidal ideation who over-identified with their negative feelings were also at an increased risk of feeling as if they are a burden to others as well as feeling as if they do not have connections to others. Counselors and psychologists may be able to help American Indian/Alaska Native adults who present with feeling as if they are a burden to others or that they do not belong by focusing on teaching them self-compassionate and mindfulness-based skills to use as coping strategies, particularly noticing and acknowledging their feelings without judgment and engaging in more self-kindness. Allowing American Indian/Alaska Native adults to share the stories of their lives to express their feelings and experiences could help them feel more connected and less isolated as well as be more self-compassionate and embracing a non-judgmental awareness of their life experiences, realizing that they are connected and not a burden. Also, providing cognitive behavioral techniques, including mindfulness, can teach American Indian/Alaska Native adults meaningful coping skills (i.e., sitting with their negative thoughts and emotions without over-identifying with them). Acknowledging these experiences are important.