Mind power is an important component of the art of living well because the mind is the hardware of your whole being, controlling what you think and what you do. Mind power is the essence of being. Self-acceptance is one of the ways to increase mind power.
The world is forever changing, and its inhabitants, too, are always changing and growing. Some of these changes are positive, while others are negative. To survive is to go along with the ebb and flow of the tide of changes, and to make the best and the most out of these changes. In this day and age, the art of living well is to develop strategies not only to adapt one’s life to these changes, but also to assume personal growth from these changes. In other words, to live well, one must have personal growth that will bring on a joyful and meaningful life.
Personal growth, however, thrives only on one’s capability to accept oneself. The importance of self-acceptance to personal growth can be explained thus: without self-acceptance there is no personal growth, and without self-growth there is no increase of mind power. How can there be self-growth if you don’t like who you are and what you have become as a result of the changes in your life? If you don’t like yourself, you are more likely to ignore or disown self, and so do nothing about it, rather than taking positive steps to change what you don’t like about yourself. In other words, if you cannot totally accept who you are, you are most likely to resist changes in your life, and thus preventing self-growth.
What exactly is self-acceptance?
Self-acceptance does not necessarily imply “liking” yourself to the extent that you cannot image any change or wish for any improvement. Quite the contrary, self-acceptance empowers you to initiate meaningful changes into your life to transform what you don't like about yourself. Self-acceptance means you care less about what others think of you, but more about accepting yourself as what you are temporarily, while being conscious that any positive change will be forthcoming if you so desire it.
In this world, “withholding love” is a powerful tool that you can apply to others as well as to yourself. When you were a child, your parents might have used that tool to discipline you, and, knowingly or unknowingly, have shaped you into what you are now, or what you have become—feeling inferior or inadequate, and always looking for approval from others. On the other hand, if you parents have always loved you unconditionally, accepting you for what you are, you will not be seeking approval from others as you grow up. The reason is that you, too, have learned to accept yourself unconditionally through your perceptions of your parents' unconditional acceptance. Remember, a perception is always the reality. If you had acquired self-acceptance early on, it is mostly likely that you will continue to cherish self-acceptance for the rest of your life,
If, unfortunately, you have grown up in an environment that has made you feel not totally accepted by your parents or your peers, you might have internalized subconsciously throughout your life the need to compensate for that lack of acceptance experienced by you in your childhood and during your formative years as a young adult. As a result, you will always be craving for acceptance by others, rather than self-acceptance.
Conditional and Unconditional Self-Acceptance
The level of your self-acceptance is determined largely by how well you feel you are being accepted by the people who are important to you in your life. That is to say, your own level of self-acceptance is a reflection of your perceptions of the attitudes that you think other people have toward you. In other words, it is all in your perceptions of others' attitudes towards you. An attitude is only a perception of the mind. However, a perception often becomes the "reality." Therefore, changing an attitude about how you view not only yourself but also others' perceptions of you is important in developing your own self-acceptance.
What is conditional and unconditional self-acceptance?
Conditional self-acceptance is feeling "good" about yourself when you have reached a goal that you have set for yourself, such as that of attaining good health. Your "good" feelings, thoughts, or actions make you accept yourself. But that attitude of self-acceptance is conditional in that it is based upon your feeling "good" about yourself. In other words, if you fail to achieve that goal, you cannot and will not be able to accept yourself completely. That kind of self-acceptance in question is only conditional and not voluntary.
Unconditional self-acceptance, on the other hand, is showing a desire to achieve that same goal, which is attaining good health, but without assessing or rating yourself. In other words, the focus is on the desire and effort, rather than on the outcome. In that case, the goal is already a positive one because it has positive attributes—desire to be healthy and taking correct action to bring that desire into fruition—which are the fundamental values of a human being. Remember, the intrinsic value or personal value has nothing to do with what you do, but only with what you are.
(2) Use behavior to instill rational self-acceptance. For example, look at your own naked self in a full-length mirror:
- Examine all the "bad" or distasteful aspects of your physical body, and calmly accept all of them.
- Express your desire to change your physical image with a practical plan.
- Acknowledge that even change will not make you "like" every aspect of your physical body, and that you will live as best as you can live with these undesirable aspects of your physical body.
- Reaffirm that your physical imperfections are not you!
(3) Change your own values, because they define who and what you are. Re-define what are the most important things in your life, and reiterate to yourself why they are important to you.
(4) Be mindful of yourself, as well as of others. The more you are mindful of yourself and of others in your life, the more clearly you will see yourself as a human being. Remember, your intrinsic values cannot be measured in extrinsic terms, so do not assess or evaluate yourself, let alone allowing others to do that to you. Remember, just accept yourself unconditionally as who and what you are.
Use self-acceptance as your first step to increase mind power to live the life you have always wanted to live. It is all in the mind, and it is always mind over matter.
Copyright© by Stephen Lau