The Practice of Self-Acceptance
It’s time for the Second pillar (from the book the Six Pillars of self-esteem by Nathaniel Branden ) – THE PRACTICE OF SELF ACCEPTANCE!
So, we’ve been through learning how to be more conscious, take in our emotions and feelings and being more aware and present throughout our lives – and of course this is something we need to continue doing. But in this next part, it’s about owning up to this reality – accepting what is! A precondition that can lead us to what we are truly after – change!
“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., p. 90, Branden.
The full audiobook – it’ll start where this chapter begins:
#1: Sentence completion exercise
“Sentence Completions to Facilitate Self-Acceptance
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., p. 101, Branden.
#2 – 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., p.95, Branden.