Yesterday I watched a video by Simon Sinek on “Millenials in the Workplace.” It was an excellent discourse on why Millenials are so unhappy. In the 15 minute interview, he covers the addictiveness of social media to flawed parenting. He argues an entire generation is growing up with lower self-esteem.
His talk reminded me of my own relationship to ‘self-esteem’ as I have always considered the concept of ‘self-esteem’ as problematic. I gained ‘self-esteem’ often through achieving things, or the things that I did. However, it did not provide me immunity to the feelings of loss, and self-doubt, fear, and anger when life’s challenges inevitably smash the brittle armour of my “self-esteem.” In my opinion more important than self-esteem is the idea of self-acceptance. Self-acceptance is for grown-ups; it responds to the here and now and is not dependent on external things or achievements.
Self Acceptance – is merely possessing a positive and realistic attitude to the self.I have found that self-acceptance is a habit that can personally be acquired (with hard work and self-discipline) unfortunately, it is never perfect, nor accessible all the time. I find that I am more likely to be ‘down on myself’ when I am under stress. During these occasions and somewhat paradoxically it helps to accept my lack of self-acceptance. It is the intention of this post to explore the idea of self-acceptance and frame it in a way that I can understand. As a result, these are some of the insights that others wiser than myself have discovered on my behalf.
A participant in life rather than a spectator.
The self-accepting person is a participant in life rather than a spectator. A recent positive psychology book I was reading states that self-acceptance is, “open to seeing and acknowledging things as they are in the present moment; acceptance does not mean passivity or resignation, rather a clearer understanding of the present so one can effectively respond.”
It may mean one endeavours to understand the personal and environmental problems they face. However, they also accept the limitations in gaining genuine insight concerning themselves.
Take the pleasure as well as the pain of self-revelation.
They are able to accept with equanimity the mixed pain and joy that accompany each change in their attitude and feeling toward themselves and others. Their claims on life, for the most part, are reasonable. If they cannot afford the overseas holiday, then they willingly find other local and closer destinations that are in more keeping with their budget.
Allows others to win
The self-accepting person without a special talent or ability is able to share emotionally in the gifts of others without undue regret about their own limitations. They are in essence accepting of others as well as themselves. Carl Rogers the famous humanistic psychologist believed that when people are accepting, they are able to offer unconditional positive regards, an attitude of grace that values us even knowing our failings.
Experience all feelings; Positive and Negative
They do not get stuck in the rut of irrational feelings of love, hate, envy, jealousy, suspicion and greed. They allow each of these feeling to spell out the special message for themselves personally. As a consequence, they do not brood about missed opportunities, causes that have been lost, or mistakes and failures. Rather, they look on these as an inducement to find ways that they can contribute to doing things differently or better in the future.They navigate their life regarding the highest insights. Yet they accept that in its essence life remains the mystery of mysteries.
Not Rigidly attached to Rules and conventions
The self-accepting person may or may not be conventional in their thinking, feeling or behaviour. However, when they are unconventional, it is not for the purpose of flaunting convention but for the purpose of expressing or fulfilling a compelling personal or public need. This means that they are willing to alter their values in keeping with their new insights. They also allow others their rights to values not identical with their own.
I suspect that self-acceptance is not something that I can possess but with hard work and a willingness I am sure it will avail itself from time to time.