This study examined relationships among self-compassion, subjective distance, and time perception related to past negative events. Self-compassion involves a broad, mindful understanding of suffering without getting entangled in suffering. Therefore, self-compassion might enable people to feel subjectively distant from past adverse events and help them develop adaptive emotional reactions and time perception (i.e., meaning-making about time) concerning the events.
Two hundred eighty-two participants were randomly assigned to a negative (n = 139) or a positive (n = 143) event condition. After completing measures of self-compassion and self-esteem, they recalled either a negative or a positive event and estimated how far away they subjectively felt from that event. They also indicated the elapsed time from the event and responded to items assessing their emotional reactions and meaning-making about time.
Self-compassion was associated with greater subjective distance from negative events, r = −.23, p = .005. Moreover, greater subjective distance mediated the relations of self-compassion to lower negative emotional reactions, B = − 0.147, 95% CI [− 0.292, − 0.034], and lower tendency to think that time was wasted on negative events, B = − 0.053, 95% CI [− 0.146, − 0.008]. Importantly, self-compassion was not related to subjective distance from positive events, r = .11, p = .182.
Results imply that people with high self-compassion would likely feel subjectively distant from past adverse events, which might help prevent negative meaning-making about time and negative emotional reactions concerning the events.