ACT and Self Compassion


Q: Is Self Compassion more important than Self Esteem?

A: It would seem so!

Sometimes it happens, doesn’t it?  Someone says just the right thing at the right time, or you turn on the TV and there’s something showing that just resonates with you, or you go surfing the internet and there it is, an article just waiting to be read by you at exactly the right time you needed to read it!!  Spooky isn’t it?  Or fate, or karma or serendipity or whatever you want to call it!

Well it just happened to me!  I was just surfing around and I came across this great article in the Huffington Post written by Steven C Hayes, entitled “Is Self Compassion more important than Self Esteem?”. And it had me hooked, because it seems it is!

After years of trying to improve Mental Health by trying to improve Self Esteem, it seems that, to quote Hayes,

“What if the Self Esteem discussion is like the proverbial finger-pointing at the moon?”

“It seems that new research is suggesting this may be the case, and that a new concept – self compassion – could be vastly more important than self esteem when it comes to long-term mental health and success.”

I like the sound of that!  And do you know, I have an inkling he is right.  Why?

Well it happens so often doesn’t it?  Something goes wrong, something happens to hurt us, to upset us and what do we do?  We shout at ourselves, we tell ourselves that we are fools, idiots.  At the very time when we need to be kind to ourselves we are kicking ourselves, at the very time when we need to show ourselves some compassion we are harsh and cruel.  We don’t need enemies, we are our own worst enemy.

And so, ACT reminds us at such tricky times to be careful, to be aware.  Language is very powerful.  Because we are human beings we are verbal beings and we can use language to hurt ourselves or to help ourselves.  When we are hurting inside it is all too easy to turn on ourselves, to berate ourselves, to make things much worse.

Learning to accept ourselves, to be kind to ourselves is so much more effective. And we can start by replacing those harsh and cruel words with words of loving kindness.

I wrote “WORDS OF LOVING KINDNESS” to remind me of this!


  • How good are you at being good to yourself?
  • Are the words that you say to yourself words that you would like to hear?
  • What can you share that might be of help to others?

Please leave your comments. I would love to hear from you.






Inside of us we’re children still, e’en though it’s buried deep,

For despite all our achievements early memories we keep

Of the times when we were vulnerable, uncertain and afraid,

So remember we are children still despite the strides we’ve made.

And sometimes a something happens that will trigger childish fears,

Our grown-up mask is slipping as the little child appears

And it’s time now to be gentle, and some soothing words to find,

Put our grown-ups to good use and to a little child be kind.

And so let’s not act all impatient or be critical or cruel

Turn a talk between a grown-up and a child into a duel,

But remember little children don’t take kindly to abuse,

It’s the words of loving kindness that will be of better use.

And so next time a something happens and we feel the child within

Is beginning to act childlike let’s set out their trust to win,

Not by urging them to actions that they can’t for now fulfil,

But by saying we’ll be there for them and that we always will.

© Corinne Shields, 2015

If you enjoyed, “WORDS OF LOVING KINDESS” please pass it on, and do please leave your comments. I would love to hear from you.

And just before you go …..

A final word from ACT ……….

Well the final word belongs to that fantastic article that I read first thing this morning and which inspired this post.

Is Self-Compassion More Important Than Self Esteem?

If you are in any doubt then I urge you to read the article.  Sometimes Self Compassion has had a bad press.  It can smack of selfishness, egocentricity, narcissism and all those other things which many of us have been taught are not “the right thing”, a sign of weakness.  And yet, a lack of self compassion may well be at the root of our problems.

In the article Hayes quotes Dr Kirstin Neff, one of the premier researchers in this area, by defining Self Compassion as, “consisting of three components during times of personal suffering and failure:

  1.  Treating oneself kindly
  2.  Recognising one’s struggles as part of the shared human experience
  3.  Holding one’s painful thoughts and feelings in mindful awareness.

Given this context, the negativity or positivity of your thoughts isn’t what’s important.  It’s how you respond to those thoughts that matters.”

For an in-depth analysis of the subject I really do encourage you to read the article, but for me the final paragraph summed it up and I quote it here:

“It’s time for us to put down the idea that we have to think well of ourselves at all times to be mature, successful, functional, mentally healthy individuals. Indeed, this toxic idea can foster a kind of narcissistic ego-based self-story that is bound to blow up on us. Instead of increasing self-esteem content what we need to do is increase self-compassion as the context of all we do. That deflates ego-based self-stories, as we humbly accept our place as one amongst our fellow human beings, mindfully acknowledging that we all have self-doubt, we all suffer, we all fail from time to time, but none of that means we can’t live a life of meaning, purpose, and compassion for ourselves and others.” – Steven Hayes, PHD

Which brings us to the ACTivation Point!

SO ……………………….

How about YOU?

What can YOU do just for today to ACTivate your life?

 Just for today I will ………………………

If you have read this far, please do leave your comments. How is ACT helping you?

I am a student of ACT.  I am on a journey.  I would love you to join me.

With all good wishes










Published by

Corinne Shields

I am a wife, mother, grandmother, erstwhile teacher for thirty plus years, and permanent student. I have long been interested in psychology and spirituality and enjoy writing inspirational poetry. Hence the publication of this blog at ACT Made I play golf badly, piano a little better and I love reading, writing, and all things French. I divide my time between Wales and France and enjoy travelling with my husband, Len and my dog Charlie.

7 thoughts on “ACT and Self Compassion”

  1. Personally, I find it very easy to show compassion towards others but have a tendency to blame myself for everything even when I know deep down that I’m not really to blame. I apologise when there is no need for apologies and often beat myself up for the slightest mistake I make. The concept of self-compassion is new to me but as always, I shall take your wise words on board and practice being a little kinder to myself in future. Lovely poem, thoughts and photos! Xx


    1. This is so true!! And it is good to be reminded of the importance of self compassion, not because it is some kind of selfish indulgence. It isn’t. Being kind to ourselves should be a pre-requisite of being kind to others. Something sadly lacking in our education! But I will remind you often. Be kind to yourself.xx


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