Indigenous women's experiences of self-compassion in sport


Self-compassion is gaining attention in sport because of its relationship with adaptive outcomes for athletes (Ferguson et al., 2015; Reis et al., 2015). Despite the overwhelming support for implementation of self-compassion within sport environments, there is a lack of research surrounding Indigenous peoples' experiences of self-compassion (Mosewich et al., 2019). Ferguson and Philipenko (2016) have made a call for future sport research to explore self-compassion with Indigenous peoples, as the concept may be a potential resource for supporting positive physical activity and sport experiences. Therefore, the purpose of the present study was to explore Indigenous women's experiences with self-compassion in sport. Five Indigenous women athletes participated in this study. Data were generated via one-on-one semi-structured interviews that lasted approximately one hour. Conversations revolved around conceptual understandings of self-compassion terminology and lived experiences with self-compassion in sport and other contexts. Interviews were analyzed through a process of content analysis, as described by Elo and Kyngas (2008). Athletes' experiences of self-compassion are represented by four themes: (a) Humanity is unique, not always common, (b) Mind body connection, (c) The "suck it up" mentality, and (d) Cultural teachings relating to self-compassion. Athletes emphasized the unique barriers of navigating colonial sport environments, and their struggles and triumphs with practicing self-compassion. While other self-compassion literature has explored experiences of predominantly white athletes, findings from this research present more diverse understandings of self-compassion.