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The Power of Self Acceptance
You gorgeous self you!!!!
The Power of Self Acceptance
Self-acceptance is unconditional self-love. It is the single most powerful tool to achieving the life changing transformations we all aspire for in our lives. It is the ultimate antidote to every emotional and psychological poison ingested over time, which is killing our frequent but futile attempts at a life that has more "life".
Core Beliefs, Evaluations and Consequences
When we are very young, our parents are the ones that transmit our sense of self to us. We learn to accept ourselves to the degree that our parents accept us or appear to accept us. This, of course, is why unconditional parental love is so utterly important to a child. Parental love sets the base for an individual’s sense of himself or herself. If a parent’s predominant message to a child is not “you are ok”, “you are accepted”, “you are loved”, an unhealthy self-image is developed. The adverse evaluation or perceived adverse evaluation by a parent develops a core belief and a blueprint to how we evaluate and treat ourselves as adults. If a parent sets “conditions” for their love by expressing it only when there is an achievement or a success, then we set conditions to self-love too. We feel worthy only when successful. As we grow older, it is society that decides what “success” is. What we ultimately seek is what we have been seeking since birth, love and acceptance.
Am I loved?
Core beliefs shape the moment by moment decisions we make and therefore dictate the directions our lives take. It works like this. When an event occurs (X), the evaluation of that event (Y) is based on whatever relevant core belief an individual has. This evaluation dictates the response or choice made. The consequence of the choice (Z) is therefore influenced by the core belief. The consequence then becomes the event for the next option of choices (Z becomes X) and then the consequences of those choices become even stronger affirmations of the core belief and so on.
Let me give an example. Andrew loses his mother when he is fours years old. Andrew’s hard working and loving father is emotionally distant and doesn’t display his love towards Andrew, as Andrew’s mother would have (that unconditional motherly love). You can’t really blame his father because that is how he was also brought up. He simply doesn’t know any better. Men are “supposed to be tough”. Andrew’s father wants Andrew to succeed and pushes Andrew from early on, nodding at successes and making a whole song and dance about any shortcomings. What does this teach Andrew unconsciously? Love comes with success – failure makes you unworthy of love.
Ok fast forward. Andrew has a lowly job as a clerk in a not-so-important company as an adult. Not exactly what his father would have considered “successful”. He falls in love with a lawyer who earns much more than him (X). His core belief about himself and love makes him feel that he needs to earn more to be worthy of this successful lawyer. This is also what mass media preaches. He feels unworthy and behaves as such (often we are not aware of our unconsciously motivated actions). If, for example, she cancels on a date he immediately thinks it’s a form of rejection (she is looking for a way out. How can she want me?) – (Y). If she says hello to an ex he feels insecure because the ex may be able to offer more in terms of materials than he can (Y). This is an attack on his sense of self. It hurts him more than it really should. She on the other hand, can’t understand his behavior and is put off by his insecurities and low self-esteem. Arguments flare up, the two attack each other and they break up (Z).
With they break up, Andrew is further convinced that an inferior financial position is the real reason for the break up, and the dance continues with the next set of choices. Andrew wins some money on the lottery (X). The deep yearning for love and acceptance is ever present. He spends most of the money displaying affluence and success in an effort to “buy” love and acceptance (Y). He buys expensive cars, a huge house, lots of “bling”, spends excessively and needlessly on people (many of whom are not even close to him). The attention feels like love, like acceptance. The relief of filling this void is not too different from the relief an addict gets from a hit. It’s temporary, superficial but highly addictive. Andrew eventually loses his money, people start disappearing from his life and that feeling of rejection and abandonment that he has felt since he was four, that feeling that has never really left him, resurfaces (Z).
Andrew has been doing what we all do. We look for our sense of self, our value, outside of ourselves unaware that value is reflected to us from how we feel inside. Approval seeking reflects conditional self-love, which is a form of self-rejection.
Total Self Acceptance
Most of the emotional pain we feel at its core, is self-rejection. Self-rejection then makes us behave in a manner that leads to further self-rejection. We do this unconsciously of course. Andrew, in my example, felt a whole spectrum of emotions from his core belief of conditional love. He felt unworthy, jealous and envious, abandoned and rejected; he had low self-esteem and would definitely be the kind of guy who would fear failure. Fear of failure is fear of rejection by one’s self or by others as a result of the failure. This adversely impacts anyone’s ability to attain success, relative as it may be.
We all tend to have a “global rating” of ourselves based on partial assessment – an assessment founded on negative core beliefs. We are really not a summation of our failures or mistakes but we always choose to focus on them, subconsciously believing that if we don’t, we will repeat them or get complacent. Boy, is there anything more counter intuitive?! Instead of working on one false assessment after another, why not just get rid of the core belief. Working on accepting yourself as you are can do just that.
Self-acceptance is self-love with no conditions whatsoever. It’s not like self-esteem, which is built on esteem able traits like intelligence or appearance etc. Self-acceptance means loving yourself, as you are right this minute. Not after you shower, shave or do your hair. Love yourself with all the failures you have had, all the mistakes you have made, and all the goals you have not achieved. It is freedom from shame and guilt, anger and resentment, sadness, and fear, emotional trauma and many more emotional ailments from which we perpetually suffer. It is emotional healing on steroids. You get to befriend your essence, the true you and demote the persona that answers to the expectations of others. This is when real growth and improvement begins. Accepting yourself does not mean you will lower your aspirations, quite the contrary. You will feel worthy of bigger things and this will automatically attract bigger things with the choices you will start making moment by moment. Accepting yourself affords you the possibility to see what you can do to improve. If Andrew had accepted himself and his circumstances, he would still be with his girlfriend and his lottery money. The love and acceptance we receive is a reflection of the love and acceptance we give our selves. If it is conditional, so will be the love and acceptance we receive.
Tools for Achieving Self-Acceptance
Albert Ellis, an American psychologist, developed a psychotherapeutic system called Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy or REBT in 1955 that focuses on countering the influence of unconstructive core beliefs in the choice making process. In most cases common sense tells us that the belief is false, but there is little emotion connected to that common-sense thought. The belief simply feels true and the feeling is strong. REBT has simple steps that dispute the beliefs to render them powerless by asking oneself a few questions.
- Scientific Dispute – Where is the proof that this belief is true? In Andrew’s case, what proof did he have that she didn’t have a legitimate reason to cancel their date? What proof does he have that she prefers someone with more money and “success”
- Functional Dispute – Is this belief helping me or making things worse? Is Andrew’s baseless belief that his girlfriend is lying about their date or that she prefers someone with a better income, helping him or making things worse?
- Logical Dispute – Is the belief logical or based on fear? Could it be that the fear of rejection that stems from feelings of unworthiness is pushing Andrew to preempt his date?
Applying this routine regularly in relevant situations will cut off food supply to the the negative core belief and weaken it, slowly shifting your paradigm. This will require that you be very self-aware.
There are also alternative healing modalities that are extremely effective. One of them is Emotional Freedom Technique or EFT. EFT is an acupressure technique designed to work on the body energy system through the tapping of meridian points. Negative core beliefs constitute emotionally charged thoughts and memories. A person’s response based on the influence of these beliefs in different situation is either “fight or flight” (to address or avoid the situation). It is an automated defensive response managed by a part of the brain called the amygdala. With EFT, the controlling emotion that someone wants to detach from a memory or thought is brought to the surface by verbalizing the memory or a scenario that would bring it to the surface and at the same time, tapping on specific meridian points to send calming pulse (a message) to the amygdala not to engage “fight or flight”. This “teaches” the amygdala not to respond to the emotion or memory and so eliminating the the core belief in decision making.
When Andrew’s date cancelled, his beliefs about his worthiness and love brought about the fear of rejection and abandonment. As a defence against this, the Amygdala engaged ‘fight or flight” in the form of a verbal attack/anger. Performing EFT sessions on unconditional self-love (clearing a range of negative emotions) or specifically emotions of rejection and abandonment will result in a paradigm shift and a subsequent behavioural shift. EFT is very powerful. There is also a variation of EFT called Positive Energy Psychology (PEP) that involves simply touching the main meridian points while stating specific positive affirmations and is just as effective. YouTube has numerous videos to pick from. I have selected two for you below.
I will leave you with the words of the Greek Philosopher Epictetus. “Men are disturbed not by things, but by the views which they take them.”
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PEP for Unconditonal Self Love
That emptiness inside…it can disappear but then it always returns. We often go on a long tiresome journey trying ever so much to fill it. We often look for refuge in work, relationships, money, alcohol, sex, drugs etc but that only seems to make the void bigger. What is the answer? Better still, what is the problem?
EFT for Self Acceptance
Fate is defined as “the preordained course of your life that will occur because of or in spite of your actions”. This is very misleading because it’s not really your fate that you cannot control, but rather, your actions. While you might think you are captaining the ship that is your life, you are simply following pre-programmed instructions on what to do in every moment of your life. You are sleepwalking. How many times have you REALLY wanted to kick a habit but found yourself just repeating it day in and day out? What makes people handle situations differently? Why do some fail and some excel in the same environment? How can you wake up from this and finally control your life’s destination? Read the book…