Monday, May 6, 2013

Unconditional Self-Acceptance vs Self-Esteem: Which one do you want?

"Can you help me to raise my self-esteem?" is one of the most common questions I am asked. The answer I offer is "No, but I can help you to achieve Unconditional Self-Acceptance." While this may sound as if I am being difficult, indeed I am not. The self-esteem movement has not taken humanity in a good direction. Self-esteem is dependent upon achievement, and perhaps just now you are not achieving what you would like to see yourself achieve. This is a trap, because if you are not entirely please with your current performance and this therefore lowers your self-esteem, then how do you raise your self-esteem to encourage yourself to achieve more to your own standards?

Unconditional Self-Acceptance (USA) is not achievement-dependent. USA depends only upon taking a realistic look at yourself and accepting that this is where you are right here, right now in your life, without judgment. Having thus accepted yourself for all of your current traits, good, bad, and neutral, you are in a position to realistically assess what you would like to change about your current behavior. Acceptance is not complacency. Accepting yourself as you are does not mean stopping there, but it allows you to comfortably re-assess without putting yourself down for this lack or that failure. It is what it is, and accepting that without negatively judging yourself, versus judging a given behavior, is what gives you the motivation to alter it.

Unconditional self-acceptance provides you with power; the power to change. The reverse of USA is NOT self-hatred; it is simply denial. Thus, if you have not yet achieved USA, this simply means you have not yet given yourself a good, hard look and accepted each and every part of you: looks, behaviors, thoughts, and feelings. Some of these are malleable, and some are fixed. You cannot change your height, but you can change your mood or how you react to your failure to make that golf shot or your tendency to eat late in the evening. You begin with completely accepting that unfavored behavior and examining the thoughts that drive it. With this non-judgmental approach, it is much easier to take on the challenge of making difficult changes.

Many of us remember Mary Poppins taking out a giant tape measure and announcing how Jane and Michael measured up. Humans cannot be measured on some universal measure of goodness, nor are we obligated to allow our value to be determined by the standards of another. We have value as humans: babies, children, adults, and the elderly all have human value. The important differences come in traits, some of which we can alter, and some of which are fixed, and choices, over which we have power.

Claim your power to change. Learn about unconditional self-acceptance today. Call Dr. Low at 630-249-1983 to start your journey toward personal empowerment.

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