Self-Compassion and Masculinity
Men athletes experience unique challenges in sport that often stem from pressure from external and internal sources to conform to traditional masculine norms (Anderson & McGuire, 2010; Connell & Messerschmidt, 2005). When men athletes feel that they have failed in sport, they experience negative emotions such as shame and humiliation (Reis et al., 2021).
Recent literature shows the potential of self-compassion to help men athletes in similar and unique ways to women athletes (Reis et al., 2019; Reis et al., 2021). Men athletes’ representations of masculinities (e.g., adherence to traditional masculine norms) may impact their experiences with and willingness to practice self-compassion.
In response to a hypothetical emotionally difficult sport-specific scenario (i.e., “You are responsible for losing an athletic competition for your team”; Reis et al., 2019):
Men athletes who scored low on self-compassion were more likely to exhibit destructive reactions, such as: (Reis et al., 2019).
Men athletes who scored high on self-compassion were more likely to exhibit constructive reactions, such as: (Reis et al., 2019).
Anderson, E. (2009). Inclusive masculinity: The changing nature of masculinities. Routledge.
Anderson, E., & McGuire, R. (2010). Inclusive masculinity theory and the gendered politics of men’s rugby. Journal of Gender Studies, 19, 249–261. DOI: 10.1080/09589236.2010.494341
Connell, R., & Messerschmidt, J. (2005). Hegemonic masculinity: Rethinking the concept. Gender and Society, 19(6), 829-859. DOI: 10.1177/0891243205278639
Parent, M.C., & Moradi, B. (2009). Confirmatory factor analysis of the Conformity to Masculine Norms Inventory and development of the Conformity to Masculine Norms Inventory-46. Psychology of Men & Masculinity, 10, 175–189. DOI: 10.1037/a0015481
Reis, N. A., Kowalski, K. C., Mosewich, A. D., & Ferguson, L. J. (2019). Exploring self-compassion and versions of masculinity in men athletes. Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 41(6). DOI: 10.1123/jsep.2019-0061.
Reis, N. A., Kowalski, K. C., Mosewich, A. D., & Ferguson, L. J. (2021). ‘That’s how I am dealing with it – that is dealing with it’: Exploring men athletes’ self-compassion through the lens of masculinity. Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health. DOI: 10.1080/2159676X.2021.1920455
Wasylkiw, L., & Clairo, J. (2018). Help seeking in men: When masculinity and self-compassion collide. Psychology of Men & Masculinity, 19(2), 234–242. DOI: 10.1037/men0000086