The Strength of Self Acceptance

Michael Bernard’s major work on self-acceptance achieves 3,333 downloads in first year of publication!

In this edited book –the first book of its kind- Michael Bernard presents a collection of chapters written from international scholars that address and define self-acceptance from religious, philosophical and psychotherapeutic perspectives.

Why was this project undertaken?

There is increasing agreement that self-acceptance is central to mental health and well-being in the workplace and beyond. The reason for this is quite simple. People have an in-built tendency to greater or lesser extents to use their work performance to judge their self-worth. As a result, when their work performance falls short or is threatened or when they receive disapproving feedback from others, they find it quite emotionally painful because they take it personally.

The reason that performance appraisal is viewed with so much trepidation for those on the receiving end is that people have a hard time separating judgments of their work performance from judgments from themselves.

Indeed, research indicates that the greater the extent of self-deprecation, the higher the likelihood of depression and anxiety as well as the lessening of positive emotions such as joy, pleasure and satisfaction.

Self-acceptance involves a realistic, subjective, awareness of one’s strengths and weaknesses. Self-acceptance can be achieved by stopping criticizing and solving the defects of one’s self, and then accepting them to be existing within one’s self; that is, tolerating oneself to be imperfect in some parts.

Unfortunately and surprisingly, self-acceptance as character strength has been left on the sidelines by some in the field of positive psychology, which has delimited positive character traits, associated with happiness and well-being (see Peterson and Seligman, 2004, listing of 24 Character Strengths and Virtues). For those interested, it can be noted that at the 2nd World Congress on Positive Psychology held in August 2011, Christopher Peterson and Michael Bernard (Editor) discussed self-acceptance. Christopher Petersen agreed that self-acceptance was a universal character strength that had been overlooked by the field.

At the forefront of the psychotherapeutic community arguing for the importance of self-acceptance to mental health and the pernicious effects of self-esteem has been Albert Ellis who wrote that self-acceptance is a single idea that can make you radically different in many ways and that you can choose to have it or not have it. “People’s estimation of their own value, or worth, is exceptionally important. If they seriously denigrate themselves or have a poor self-image, they will impair their normal functioning and make themselves miserable in many significant ways. When people do not value themselves very highly, innumerable problems arise. The individual’s judgment of his own value or worth has such an impact on his thoughts, emotions and actions, how is it possible to help people consistently appraise himself so that, no matter what kind of performance he achieves and no matter how popular or unpopular he is in relations with others, he almost always accepts or respects himself. “ Here’s how Ellis proposed how to help people feel worthwhile: (a) define yourself as a worthwhile person because you exist, because you are alive, and because of your individual character strengths and abilities that make up your uniqueness, accept yourself whether or not you achieve or people approve of you, accept yourself with your errors and do your best to correct your past behavior; and (b) don’t give any kind of global, generalized rating to yourself, you, only evaluate what you think, feel and do.

The book is available from all major on-line, booksellers including Amazon: Click here

September 16, 2014 11:51 am Published by Leave your thoughts

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