The Practice Of Self-Acceptance – The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem – Weekly Challenge #66

In this video I talk about the importance of the practice of self-acceptance, how it’s key for building Self-esteem and how you should go about raising your level of acceptance in your life. It’s all based on my own experience of applying part two of the book Second pillar (from the book the Six Pillars of self-esteem by Nathaniel Branden ) – THE PRACTICE OF SELF-ACCEPTANCE.

Links I refer to in the video:

The Lies We Tell Ourselves –

Awareness Alone Is Curative:

My first video I did on this chapter:

Full audiobook (it’ll start exactly where this chapter begins):

Link to the full text where I’ve posted some extract from this chapter from the book:


What & Why: Facing up to reality and tweak and adapts as a result of that in order to grow past your old state into an improved version of yourself. When you stop deceiving yourself from what is actually going on, your self-esteem will raise and you will start putting more faith in you actions and ability to make things happen – you will see the benefits of your changes, realise it’s all for the better and continue that growth journey.


“Without self-acceptance, self-esteem is impossible. In fact, it is so intimately bound up with self-esteem that one sometimes sees the two ideas confused. Yet they are different in meaning, and each needs to be understood in its own right. Whereas self-esteem is something we experience, self-acceptance is something we do. Stated in the negative, self-acceptance is my refusal to be in an adversarial relationship to myself. The concept has three levels of meaning, and we will consider each of them in turn.”

(The Six Pillars of self-esteem, p. 90, Nathaniel Branden.)

“The First Level

“To be self-accepting is to be on my own side-to be for myself. In the most fundamental sense, self-acceptance refers to an orientation of selfvalue and self-commitment that derives from the fact that I am alive and conscious. As such, it is more primitive than self-esteem. It is a prerational,<premoral act of self-affirmation-a kind of natural egoism that is the birthright of every human being and yet that we have the power to act against and nullify.

Some people are self-rejecting at so deep a level that no growth work can even begin until and unless this problem is addressed. If it is not, no treatment will hold, no new learning will be properly integrated, no significant advances can be made. Psychotherapists who do not understand

this problem or do not detect its presence will be baffled as to why certain clients, even after years of therapy, show no important improvement. Self-acceptance is my refusal to be in an adversarial relationship to myself” (The Six Pillars of self-esteem, p.90-91, Nathaniel Branden.)

The Second Level

“Self-acceptance entails our willingness to experience-that is, to make real to ourselves, without denial or evasion-that we think what we think, feel what we feel, desire what we desire, have done what we have done, and are what we are. It is . the refusal to regard any part of ourselves-our bodies, our emotions, our thoughts, our actions, our dreams-as alien, as “not me.” It is our willingness to experience rather than to disown whatever may be the facts of our being at a particular moment-to think our thoughts, own our feelings, be present to the reality of our behavior.”

“The willingness to experience and accept our feelings carries no implication that emotions are to have the last word on what we do. I may not be in the mood to work today; I can acknowledge my feelings, experience them, accept them-and then go to work. I will work with a clearer mind because I have not begun the day with selfdeception. ”

“If I am thinking these disturbing thoughts, I am thinking them; I accept the full reality of my experience. If I am feeling pain or anger or fear or inconvenient lust, I am feeling it-what is true, is true-I do not rationalize, deny, or attempt to explain away. I am feeling what I am feeling and I accept the reality of my experience. If I have taken actions of which I am later ashamed, the fact remains that I have taken them that is reality-and I do not twist my brain to make facts disappear. I am willing to stand still in the presence of what I know to be true. What is, is.”

“To “accept” is more than simply to “acknowledge” or “admit.” It is to experience, stand in the presence of, contemplate the reality of, absorb. into my consciousness. I need to open myself to and fully experience unwanted emotions, not just perfunctorily recognize them. For example,

suppose my wife asks me, “How are you feeling?” and I answer in a tense, distracted manner, “Rotten.” Then she says sympathetically, “I see that you are really feeling depressed today.” Then I sigh, the tension begins to flow out of my body, and in an altogether different (one of voice-the voice of someone who is now real to himself-I say, “Yes, I am feeling miserable, really miserable,” and then I begin to talk about what is bothering me. When, with my body tensed to resist the experience of my feelings, I had answered “Rotten,” I was denying my emotion at the same time that I was acknowledging it. My wife’s sympathetic response helped me to experience it, which cleared the way for me to begin to deal with it. Experiencing our feelings has direct healing power.”

“I can acknowledge some fact and move on with such speed that I only  imagine I am practicing self-acceptance; I am really practicing denial and self-deception. Suppose my supervisor is trying to explain why something I have done on the job was a mistake. She speaks benevolently and without recriminations, and yet I am irritable, impatient, and wish she would stop talking and go away. While she is talking, I am obliged to stay with the reality of having made an error. When she is gone I can banish the reality from my consciousness – I admitted my mistake, isn’t that enough? – wich increases the likelihood that I will make the error, or one like it, again.” (The Six Pillars of self-esteem, p.92-93, Nathaniel Branden.)

Self-acceptance is the precondition of change and growth. Thus, if I am confronted with a mistake I have made, in accepting that it is mine I am free to learn from it and to do better in the future. I cannot learn from a mistake I cannot accept having made.

If I refuse to accept that often I live unconsciously, how will I learn to live more consciously? If I refuse to accept that often I live irresponsibly, how will I learn to live more responsibly? If I refuse to accept that often I live passively, how will I learn to live more actively? I cannot overcome a fear whose reality I deny. I cannot correct a problem in the way I deal with my associates if I will not admit it exists. I cannot change traits I insist I do not have. I cannot forgive myself for an action I will not acknowledge having taken.  A client once became angry with me when I attempted to explain these ideas to her. “How do you expect me to accept my abysmally low level of self-esteem?” she demanded indignantly. “If you do not accept the reality of where you are now, “I answered, “how do you imagine you can begin to change?” To understand this point, we must remind ourselves that “accepting” does not necessarily mean “liking,” “enjoying,” or “condoning.” I can accept what is-and be determined to evolve from there. It is not acceptance but denial that leaves me stuck. I cannot be truly for myself, cannot build self-esteem, if I cannot accept myself. (The Six Pillars of self-esteem, p. 93, Nathaniel Branden.)

The Third Level

Self-acceptance entails the idea of compassion, of being a friend to myself. Suppose I have done something that I regret, or of which I am ashamed, and for which ‘I reproach myself. Self-acceptance does not deny reality, does not argue that what is wrong is really all right, but it inquires into the context in which the action was taken. It wants to understand the why. It wants to know why something that is wrong or inappropriate felt desirable or appropriate or even necessary at the time.

We do not understand another human being when we know only that what he or she did is wrong, unkind, destructive, or whatever. We need to know the internal considerations that prompted the behavior. There is always some context in which the most offensive actions can have their own kind of sense. This does not mean they are justified, only that they can be understandable. I can condemn some action I have taken and still have compassionate interest in the motives that prompted it. I can still be a friend to myself. This has nothing to do with alibiing, rationalizing, or avoiding responsibility. After! take responsibility for what I have done, I can go deeper into the context. A good friend might say to me, “This was unworthy of you. Now tell me, What made it feel like a good idea, or at least a defensible one?” This is what I can say to myself. (The Six Pillars of self-esteem, p.94, Nathaniel Branden.)


The Objectives of this week:

#3: Check in at yourself – pause what you’re doing and raise your level of awareness – at least five times a day and apply this method:

“Both accepting and disowning are implemented through a combination of mental and physical processes. The act of experiencing and accepting our emotions is implemented through (1) focusing on the feeling or emotion, (2) breathing gently and deeply, allowing muscles to relax, allowing the feeling to be felt, and (3) making real that this is my feeling (which we call owning it). ” )


“In contrast, we deny and disown our emotions when we 0) avoid awareness of their reality, (2) constrict our breathing and tighten our muscles to cut off or numb feeling, and (3) disassociate ourselves from our own experience (in which state we are often unable to recognize our feelings). When we allow ourselves to experience our emotions and accept them, sometimes this allows us to move to a deeper level of awareness where important information presents itself.

And then the next step is to do some reflection and root cause analysis concerning your feelings and emotions – what has triggered it, what are the facts, how would your ideal self react? DON’T go hard on your-self, be your own best friend, things happen, we do mistakes – it’s human. Shame will never solve anything, it only worsen the situation. But GUILD is good, that means it’s a behaviour we can change.

(The Six Pillars of self-esteem, p.94, Nathaniel Branden.)


#2: Sentence completion exercise

Sentence Completions to Facilitate Self-Acceptance

“As rapidly as possible, without pausing for reflection, write as many endings for that sentence as you can in two or three minutes (never fewer than six, but ten is enough). Do not worry if your endings are literally true, make sense, or are “profound.” Write anything, but write something.”

“What follows is a five-week sentence-completion program designed to facilitate self-acceptance. It is more detailed than the exercises offered for the other pillars because, having taught these ideas for many years, I find that people often have more difficulty fully grasping self-acceptance than any other practice I recommend

Notice that I include stems dealing with issues I have not explicitly discussed, such as accepting conflicts or accepting excitement. For example, if I can accept my conflicts, I can deal with them and move toward resolving them; and if not, not. If I can accept my excitement, I can live it, I can look for appropriate outlets; if I am afraid of my excitement and try to extinguish it, I may kill the best part of myself. Fairly complex ideas are embedded in these stems. They bear studying and thinking about, and they entail many more implications than I can explore here.


Self-acceptance to me means-

If I am more accepting of my body-

When I deny and disown my body-

If I am more accepting of my conflicts-


When I deny or disown my conflicts-

If I am more accepting of my feelings-

When I deny and disown my feelings-

If I am more accepting of my thoughts-

When I deny and disown my thoughts-

On the weekends, read over you have written and then write six to ten endings for If any of what I have written is true, it would be helpful if l -. “

( The Six Pillars of self-esteem, p.85, 101, Nathaniel Branden)


#3 – The mirror exercise

“Stand in front of a full-length mirror and look at your face and body. Notice your feelings as you do so. I am asking you to focus not on your clothes or your makeup but on you. Notice if this is difficult or makes you

uncomfortable. It is good to do this exercise naked. You will probably like some parts of what you set; more than others. If you are like most people, you will find some parts difficult to look at for long because they agitate or displease you. In your eyes there may be a pain you do not want to confront. Perhaps you are too fat or too thin. Perhaps there is some aspect of your body you so dislike that you can hardly bear to keep looking at it. Perhaps you see signs of age and cannot bear to stay connected with the thoughts and emotions these signs evoke. So the impulse is to escape, to flee from awareness, to reject, deny, disown aspects of your self.

Still, as an experiment, I ask you to stay focused on your image in the mirror a few moments longer, and say to yourself, “Whatever my defects or  Imperfections, I accept myself unreservedly and completely.” Stay focused, breathe deeply, and say this over and over again for a minute or two without rushing the process. Allow yourself to experience fully the meaning of your words. You may find yourself protesting, “But I don’t like certain things about my body, so how can I accept them unreservedly and completely?” But remember: “Accepting”does not necessarily mean “liking.” “Accepting” does not mean we cannot imagine or wish for changes or improvements. It means experiencing, without denial or avoidance, that a fact is a fact. In this case, it means accepting that the face and body in the mirror are your face and body and that they are what they are. If you persist, if you surrender to the reality of what is, if you surrender to awareness (which is what “accepting” ultimately means), you may notice that you have begun to relax a bit and perhaps feel more comfortable with yourself, and more real. Even though you may not like or enjoy everything you see when you look in the mirror, you are still able to say, “Right now, that’s me. And I don’t deny the fact. I accept it.” That is respect for reality.”

(The Six Pillars of self-esteem, p.95, Nathaniel Branden)



/Alexander Nilsson


Music :

SIA – CHANDELIER (piano instrumental cover) by Benny Martin Piano is licensed under a  Creative Commons License.



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