Discussions of the Buddhist idea of compassion tend to focus on loving kindness toward others and being helpful toward others. It is true that in Buddhism compassion is the Great Challenge. Makes sense. We understand about altruism. Accordingly, the focus of discourse will gravitate toward the business of looking for opportunities to be compassionate toward others. That's ok but it can be a bit misleading, as you can see when you realize that compassion toward self and toward others are actually very related in terms of learning what it is to be compassionate. Basic question: How can one be compassionate toward others and not be compassionate toward oneself ? Well, it's theoretically possible. But in practice it may not be workable. The loving energy of compassion mobilizes right action when the person is no longer concerned with self. That happens with self-acceptance. Real progress toward self-acceptance would seem crucial to learning compassion for others. How's that? My answer: Invariably, real progress toward self-acceptance will lead to ongoing mindfulness and ongoing efforts to purify intention. For one thing, we may discover that what we think is 'compassion' is really a glorified version of our usual egoic modalities - a fancy dressup for the same old attachment to self and desire to interfere and control the world around us with the same old heavy-handedness. It seems a negative self concept can be maintained by the recurrence negative self-centered feelings like private shame (some Buddhists believe that public shame is a good thing because it connects us to humanity and the people we've betrayed, and it helps refine commitment). Private shame is unwholesome because of its effect: it maintains negative self-cognitions and negative self-concept. And so it follows that letting go of shame would help the process toward self-acceptance. I would say it's one way to be "one's own helper," like the Buddha says. The Buddha noted that "a certain individual is a tormentor of self, is addicted to the practice of self-torment." The Buddha does not approve. Who does he approve of? The Buddha approves of one who does not torment self or others. See the Kandaraka Sutta. Developing genuine self acceptance is part of what it is to develop a fully functioning, compassionate mind. It is not contrived. It is not something we talk ourselves into. It is not something we try to earn by self-propelled perfectionist strivings and enacting a faulty idea of personal competence or moral superiority. And it is not based on the approval of others. It is based on recognizing one's essential Buddha nature.