Yesterday, we talked about how denying feelings, especially those considered to be negative, doesn’t make them go away. Today, let’s take a step back, into how we become aware of these feelings in the first place, and then how to deal with them.
Most folks agree that high self-esteem is a desirable quality. As a personal estimate of our own worth, it is a vital component in our sense of personal efficacy – our ability to cause things to happen for ourselves. Interestingly, we can’t have high self-esteem without self-acceptance.
Self-acceptance is an absolutely essential component of having high self-esteem, but what does self-acceptance mean? Some people think accepting yourself just as you are means that you condone or are proud of your faults – but that would be a mistaken idea. For definition, to “accept” means to experience the full reality, without denial or avoidance. We can accept the reality of things about ourselves that we don’t like or condone at all. It’s all about awareness first.
For example, suppose you are feeling envious of a friend who has a better job. If you accept yourself, you can allow yourself to acknowledge this envious feeling and take the time to examine and think about it. As we do this, we are not concerned with judging it as bad or weak. We are concerned with being aware. It is our awareness that will show us that we have wanted something more than we realized, and that becomes fodder for more introspection and reflection to discover the “why” behind our feelings of envy.
You see, you can’t grow out of your unwanted feelings if you are not aware that you even have them. If you judge your feelings as bad or weak, you’ll be inclined to push them down into your subconscious where they’ll express themselves in ways you won’t be able to control.
So, the next time you find yourself thinking something you feel guilty about, try practicing awareness and self-acceptance. Refuse to be in an adversarial relationship with yourself, and dig in to discover where your feelings are coming from. These become one of the basic building blocks of self-esteem.