Exploring LGB persons’ experience of self-compassion in their coming out narratives.
Keywords:Self-Compassion, LGB person, coming out, identity
The process of coming out and living with a marginalized identity can be difficult for those who identify as LGB. This paper presents the ways in which lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) persons experienced the process of self-compassion during their personal coming out processes. Self-compassion can help offer nonjudgmental consideration to one's experience and help buffer the negative feelings that may arise from damaging mentalities, inadequacies, and suffering, as part of identifying as LGB. This qualitative study explored the LGB participants' coming-out narratives regarding their experience of self-compassion through the research question: How do gay, lesbian, and bisexual persons experience the process of self-compassion in their coming-out narratives? In seeking to explore, describe, and analyze meanings surrounding the individuals' lived experiences, a qualitative analysis was employed based on the five elements of the self-compassion process put forth by Germer (2009). Thus, this study used a theory-driven analysis of the data using the five elements of the self-compassion process (aversion, curiosity, tolerance, allowing, and friendship) as a foundation for analyzing the interview data. Sixteen participants shared the struggles, joys, and courage of their coming out narratives. The findings suggest that the self-compassion process and LGB identity development are mirrored processes. Additionally, this study suggests that mental health professionals would increase their efficacy in working with LGB persons through understanding the self-compassion process and how they can help provide services to persons feeling marginalized by negative heteronormative social attitudes.
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