Self-Acceptance and Self-Improvement
Robert Elias Najemy
Part 3 of a 5 part series on creating a Positive Life Outlook
Some fear that if we accept ourselves as we are, that we will have no motive to improve ourselves.
There is a small possibility that self-acceptance might cause a few people to loose interest in self-improvement. In most cases, however, it opens door towards natural change and self-betterment.
Contrary to what many think, self-acceptance is usually a prerequisite to moving beyond aspects of our selves which we would like to leave behind.
It is as if that aspect which we want to change is another person whom we are rejecting and asking to be different. They will usually resist and become even more deeply entrenched in behaviors we would like to them to change.
The same seems to happen when we reject aspects of ourselves. Those tendencies or "sub-personalities" tend to resist letting go of their ways of functioning and behaving. Thus, we often delay our freedom from such undesired habits or characteristics when we reject them or ourselves for having them.
Say for example, we smoke or eat or drink too much. Or we might tend towards aggressiveness, jealousy, anger, fear or other unwanted emotions. We might prefer to be more assertive and dynamic in achieving our goals.
Rather than reject ourselves for what we would like to change, a much more effective approach is to:
1. Accept that undesired aspect of ourselves as a natural evolutionary response to various stresses, disappointments, difficulties, and challenges we have encountered until now in our lives. We have developed these habits and tendencies as an attempt to "protect" our selves from "dangers" or to "relax" from our tensions.
2. Learn to understand these aspects of our being. They are parts of us, which deserves our love and acceptance as it is. We need to understand what those parts of ourselves are actually seeking through those behavior. They might be seeking security, affirmation, freedom or perhaps release of tension.
Our "aspects" or sub-personalities can search for security in money, food, relationships, sex, smoking, coffee or even through conflict. We have been programmed to doubt our security and self-worth and to fear for our freedom and to seek them at times in strange and sometimes self-destructive ways.
Thus second step is to understand these parts of ourselves and realize how they feel and what they need.
3. The third step is to begin to reeducate these parts of ourselves and help them understand what is really in their benefit and how they can achieve real security, self-worth, freedom and fulfillment. This might take form of a dialogue with that aspect of ourselves in which we listen to its needs and then explain how we perceive our lives and share our goals and needs. We can write a dialogue between these two parts of our being - one who wants to keep on with its habits and second which wants to move on to other ways of behaving. They can each express to each other their: a. Needs b. Feelings c. Beliefs d. Goals.