Different people have different views of compassion and kindness. While some people believe that it is important to show compassion and kindness in all situations and contexts‚ others believe we should be more cautious and can worry about showing it too much to ourselves and to others. We are interested in your thoughts and beliefs in regard to kindness and compassion in three areas of your life:
1. Expressing compassion for others
2. Responding to compassion from others
3. Expressing kindness and compassion towards yourself
Below are a series of statements that we would like you to think carefully about and then circle the number that best describes how each statement fits you.
Please use this scale to rate the extent that you agree with each statement
Don’t agree at all = 0‚ 1‚ 2= somewhat agree‚ 3‚ 4= Completely agree
Scale 1: Expressing compassion for others
People will take advantage of me if they see me as too compassionate
Being compassionate towards people who have done bad things is letting them off the hook
There are some people in life who don’t deserve compassion
I fear that being too compassionate makes people an easy target
People will take advantage of you if you are too forgiving and compassionate
I worry that if I am compassionate‚ vulnerable people can be drawn to me and drain my emotional resources
People need to help themselves rather than waiting for others to help them
I fear that if I am compassionate‚ some people will become too dependent upon me
Being too compassionate makes people soft and easy to take advantage of
For some people‚ I think discipline and proper punishments are more helpful than being compassionate to them
Scale 2: Responding to the expression of compassion from others
1. Wanting others to be kind to oneself is a weakness.
2. I fear that when I need people to be kind and understanding they wont be.
3. I’m fearful of becoming dependent on the care from others because they might not always be available or willing to give it.
4. I often wonder whether displays of warmth and kindness from others are genuine.
5. Feelings of kindness from others are somehow frightening.
6. When people are kind and compassionate towards me I feel anxious or embarrassed.
7. If people are friendly and kind I worry they will find out something bad about me that will change their mind.
8. I worry that people are only kind and compassionate if they want something from me.
9. When people are kind and compassionate towards me I feel empty and sad.
10. If people are kind I feel they are getting too close.
11. Even though other people are kind to me‚ I have rarely felt warmth from my relationships with others.
12. I try to keep my distance from others even if I know they are kind .
13. If I think someone is being kind and caring towards me‚ I ‘put up a barrier’.
Scale 3: Expressing kindness and compassion towards yourself
I feel that I don’t deserve to be kind and forgiving to myself
If I really think about being kind and gentle with myself it makes me sad
Getting on in life is about being tough rather than compassionate
I would rather not know what being ‘kind and compassionate to myself’ feels like
When I try and feel kind and warm to myself I just feel kind of empty
I fear that if I start to feel compassion and warmth for myself‚ I will feel overcome with a sense of loss/grief
I fear that if I become kinder and less self-critical to myself then my standards will drop
I fear that if I am more self-compassionate I will become a weak person
I have never felt compassion for myself‚ so I would not know where to begin to develop these feelings
I worry that if I start to develop compassion for myself I will become dependent on it
I fear that if I become too compassionate to myself I will lose my self-criticism and my flaws will show
I fear that if I develop compassion for myself‚ I will become someone I do not want to be
I fear that if I become too compassionate to myself others will reject me
I find it easier to be critical towards myself rather than compassionate
I fear that if I am too compassionate towards myself‚ bad things will happen
Fears of Compassion Scales
We developed three scales for this study‚ measuring Fear of compassion for self (compassion we have for ourselves when we make mistakes or things go wrong in our lives)‚ Fear of compassion from others (the compassion that we experience from others and flowing into the self) and Fear of compassion for others (the compassion we feel for others‚ related to our sensitivity to other peoples thoughts and feelings). We generated a series of items based on various fears of compassion for each of these scales. Many of these items were inspired by PGs discussions with patients‚ ideas generated in the psychotherapy literature (e.g. Arieti & Bemporad‚ 1980) and in the attachment literature (Bowlby‚ 1969‚ 1973‚ 1980).
We generated twenty items for each domain and then asked the research team to rank the items according to face validity and selected the items which were rated to be the most valid. Those items for which there was general agreement that they had low face validity or were difficult to understand were rejected. The final subscales consisted of: Compassion for Self comprised 15 items (e.g. “I worry that if I start to develop compassion for myself I will become dependent on it”); compassion from others comprised 13 items (e.g. “I try to keep my distance from others even if I know they are kind”); compassion for Others comprised 10 items (e.g. “Being too compassionate makes people soft and easy to take advantage of”). The items were rated on a five-point Likert scale (0 = Don’t agree at all‚ 4 = Completely agree). The Cronbach’s alphas in students for this scale are 0.92 for fear of compassion for self; 0.85 for fear of compassion from others and 0.84 for fear of compassion for others. The Cronbach’s alphas for therapists for this scale are 0.86 for fear of compassion for self; 0.85 for fear of compassion from others and 0.76 for fear of compassion for others.
Gilbert‚ P.‚ McEwan‚ K.‚ Matos‚ M. & Rivis‚ A. (Submitted). Fear of compassion: Development of a self-report measure. Psychology and Psychotherapy.