The Secrets to Self-Acceptance

The Keys to Self-Acceptance
By: Brian Tracy

Psychologists today generally agree that your level of self-esteem, or
how much you like yourself and consider yourself to be a valuable and
worthwhile person, lies at the core of your personality. Your level of
self-esteem determines:

Your level of energy and the quality of your personality how much you
like other people and, in turn, how much they like you your
willingness to try new things and to venture boldly where perhaps you
have never gone before the quality of your relationships with
others-your family, your friends and your coworkers and how successful
you are in your business, especially if you are in sales.

But before you begin enjoying the wonderful effects of high
self-esteem in your life, you have to learn to accept yourself
unconditionally. And even before you achieve self-acceptance, there
are other steps you have to take.

Self-acceptance begins in infancy, with the influence of your parents
and siblings and other important people. As a child, you have an
overwhelming need for love and approval and acceptance from the
important people in your life. A developing child requires this
emotional support the way roses need rain. Healthy personality growth
is absolutely dependent upon it. A person grows up straight and strong
and happy to the degree to which he receives an abundance of nurturing
in his formative years, prior to the age of five.

Someone once said that everything we do in life is either to get love
or to compensate for the lack of love. Almost all of our problems, as
both children and adults, can be traced back to “love withheld.” There
is nothing more destructive to the evolving and emerging personality
than being unloved or unaccepted for any reason by someone whom we
consider important.

As adults, we always strive to achieve what we felt we were deprived
of in childhood. If you grew up feeling, for any reason, that you were
not totally accepted by your parents, you will be internally motivated
throughout your life to compensate for that lack of acceptance by
seeking it in your relationships with other people. To the growing
child, perception is reality; reality is not what the parents feel
toward the child, but what the child feels that the parents feel. The
child’s evolving personality is shaped largely by his perception of
how he is seen and thought about by his parents, not by the actual
fact of the matter. If your parents were unable to express a high
degree of unconditional acceptance to you, you can grow up feeling
unacceptable-even inferior and inadequate.

It’s quite common for a youngster to grow up in a household where he
or she feels a lack of acceptance by one or both parents, especially
the father. When the young person becomes an adult, the psychological
phenomenon of “transference” takes place. The individual goes into the
workplace and transfers the need for acceptance from the parents to
the boss. The boss then becomes the focal point of the individual’s
thoughts and feelings. What the boss says, how the boss looks, his
comments and everything that he does that implies a feeling or an
opinion about the individual is recorded and either raises or lowers
the individual’s level of self-acceptance.

Your own level of self-acceptance is determined largely by how well
you feel you are accepted by the important people in your life. Just
as the Law of Correspondence says that your outer life tends to be a
reflection of your inner life, your attitude toward yourself is
determined largely by the attitudes that you think other people have
toward you. When you believe that other people think highly of you,
your level of self-acceptance and self-esteem goes straight up.
However, if you believe, rightly or wrongly, that other people think
poorly of you, your level of self-acceptance will plummet.

The best way to begin building a healthy personality involves
understanding yourself and your motivation. Toward this end, I’d like
to introduce what is called the “Johari window” and explain its effect
on your personality.

The Johari window provides a view into your psyche. According to this
theory, your personality can be divided into four quadrants, like a
square divided into four smaller squares.

The first part of this window is the box in the upper left-hand
corner. It represents the part of your personality that both you and
others can see. This is the open part of your personality. The lower
left-hand box of this window into your psyche represents the part of
your personality that you can see but that others cannot see. It is a
part of your inner life.

The upper right-hand box of this window represents the parts of your
personality that others can see but of which you are unaware. You have
somehow blocked these parts from your consciousness.

Finally, the lower right-hand box represents that part of your
personality that is hidden from both you and other people. It’s the
deeper, subconscious part of your personality that represents urges,
instincts, fears, doubts and emotions that are stored away below a
conscious level, but that can exert an inordinate impact on the way
you behave, often causing you to feel and react in certain ways that
sometimes even you don’t understand.

One of your goals is to develop a fully rounded personality, to become
a fully functioning human being with a sense of inner peace and outer

A measure of your maturity is often manifested in the way you treat
different people. When you are at your very best and your self-esteem
is at its highest, you’ll find that you are genuinely positive and
friendly toward everyone, from the taxi driver to the corporation
president. When your personality is completely together, you treat
everyone with equal respect.

The way to move toward a higher level of personality integration and,
therefore, a higher level of peace and personal effectiveness, is to
expand the area of your personality that is clear to both you and
others. And you do this through the simple exercise of
self-disclosure. For you to truly understand yourself, or to stop
being troubled by things that may have happened in your past, you must
be able to disclose yourself to at least one person. You have to be
able to get those things off your chest. You must rid yourself of
those thoughts and feelings by revealing them to someone who won’t
make you feel guilty or ashamed for what has happened.

The second part of personality development follows from
self-disclosure, and it’s called self-awareness. Only when you can
disclose what you’re truly thinking and feeling to someone else can
you become aware of those thoughts and emotions If the other person
simply listens to you without commenting or criticizing, you have the
opportunity to become more aware of the person you are and why you do
the things you do. You begin to develop perspective, or what the
Buddhists call “detachment.” You can stand back from yourself and your
past and look at it honestly. You can “disidentify” from the intense
emotions involved and view what has happened to you with greater
calmness and clarity.

Now we come to the good part. After you’ve gone through
self-disclosure to self-awareness, you arrive at self-acceptance. You
accept yourself for the person you are, with good points and bad
points, with strengths and weaknesses, and with the normal frailties
of a human being. When you develop the ability to stand back and look
at yourself honestly, and to candidly admit to others that you may not
be perfect but you’re all you’ve got, you start to enjoy a heightened
sense of self-acceptance.

One of the keys to happiness is to “live in truth” with yourself and
others. And one of the ways to live in truth is to stop trying to be
perfect and to see yourself honestly, as you really are. Attempts to
achieve needless perfectionism, and an intense, often unconscious
desire to impress people with how good you are, are real time wasters
and energy killers.

There is a joke that cuts to the heart of this issue: “When you are in
your 20s, you are very concerned about what people think about you.
When you are in your 30s, you don’t really care that much about what
people think about you. And when you get into your 40s, you discover
the real truth: Nobody was even thinking about you at all.” A valuable
exercise for developing higher levels of self-acceptance involves
doing an inventory of yourself. In doing this inventory, your job is
to accentuate the positive and minimize the negative. The real
difference between optimistic people and pessimistic people is that
optimists are always looking for the good in every situation, the
opportunity in every problem, while pessimists are always looking for
the down side and the problem in every opportunity. When you honestly
analyze yourself during this inventory, you will be amazed at how
extraordinary you really are and how incredible your potential is for
accomplishing the thing s that you really desire.

Begin your inventory by recalling your accomplishments. Think about
all the things that you have achieved over the course of your
lifetime. Make a list of them. Think of the subjects you passed and
the grades you received. Think of the awards and prizes you won. Think
of the people you have helped and the kind things that you have done
for others. Think of the adversities that you have triumphed over.

Think of the goals that you have set and achieved. Look at the
material parts of your life; think about all the things that you have
managed to acquire as the result of hard work and disciplined effort.

Now, to increase your level of self-acceptance, think of your unique
talents and abilities. Think of your core skills, the things that you
do exceptionally well that account for your success in your profession
and in your personal life right now. Think of the results that you
have achieved by applying yourself to the challenges of your world.

Think of your earning ability and your ability to accomplish your
goals. Think of your ability to make a contribution to your company
and to your family and to the world around you. Think about all the
things that you have to offer to your world.

Finally, to boost your level of self-acceptance, think about your
future possibilities and the fact that your potential is virtually
unlimited. You can do what you want to do and go where you want to go.
You can be the person you want to be. You can set large and small
goals and make plans and move step-by-step, progressively toward their
realization. There are no obstacles to what you can accomplish except
the obstacles that you create in your mind.

Here’s an important fact to keep in mind when it comes to
self-acceptance. What we work for more than anything else is respect.
The British author E. M. Forster once explained, “I write to earn the
respect of those I respect.” Almost everything that we do, or refrain
from doing, is somehow associated with gaining, or at least not
losing, the respect of the people whom we respect the most. And only
when we feel that we are respected by those we respect do we accept
and like ourselves to a great degree.

One way to raise your level of self-acceptance, then, is to pick a
role model, someone you admire and look up to and want to be like, and
then pattern your life and your work after that person’s. Many
businesspeople have become top executives by selecting a role model
who had already reached the top and then patterning their lives along
the same lines. Everything you do that you feel is consistent with
what someone you admire would do increases your level of

A second way to assure a higher level of self-acceptance is to develop
good work habits and to work efficiently and effectively toward the
accomplishment of high-value results. The most respected people in any
organization are those who can get the job done. Your level of
self-efficacy, in other words, your belief in your ability to do what
is expected of you, has an incredible effect on how much you accept
yourself as a good and valuable person.

A third way to increase your level of self-acceptance is to be very
aware of your image and the way you appear to people. If you want to
be respected and admired by others, you need to act like a person who
is worthy of respect. And remember, everything counts. Everything you
do or don’t do can either contribute to or take away from your image
and the impression you are making on others. When you know that you
look absolutely excellent on the outside, your level of
self-acceptance shoots up.

A fourth way to raise your level of self-acceptance is to take
complete responsibility for the various parts of your life. Refuse to
make excuses or to blame other people. Never complain; never explain.
Volunteer for assignments and responsibilities, and then carry them
out without comment.

The key to achieving a feeling of mental well-being is having a sense
of control, a sense of self-determination and internal mastery. This
sense of self-control is tied directly to your willingness and ability
to accept full responsibility for every part of your life. When you
criticize others, or you make excuses for things that you did not do
well or complete on time, you actually feel more negative about
yourself, and your sense of self-acceptance declines. When you take
charge of every part of your life, you feel terrific about yourself,
and your level of self-acceptance and self-esteem goes up. A fifth way
you can build up your level of self-acceptance is by interpreting
events in a positive way. Dr. Martin Seligman of the University of
Pennsylvania calls this your “explanatory style.” He concludes that
high-performing men and women have a tendency to talk to themselves in
a positive way and to explain things that are happening to them and
around them in a way t hat allows them to stay optimistic.

Look for the silver lining in whatever cloud may be hanging over your
head right now. Look for the lesson or opportunity in each obstacle or
setback. Look for reasons to excuse others and let them off the hook,
rather than becoming angry or upset. Play mental games with yourself
to keep your thoughts on the things you want and off the things that
you fear or that make you unhappy.

A sixth way to raise your level of self-acceptance is to become a
habitual goal setter. Write down clear goals and a plan for what you
want to accomplish and then work your plan every day. Develop of clear
sense of direction for your life. Work on track and on purpose. Know
exactly who you are and where you are going. Each step that you take
toward the accomplishment of a predetermined objective raises your
self-esteem and improves your level of self-acceptance at the same

Finally, a seventh way to raise your level of self-acceptance is to
practice the Law of Indirect Effort, or reverse effort, and realize
that everything you do or say to another person rebounds and causes
the same effect on you. Whenever you are warm and friendly and
courteous to another, you improve your own level of self-respect and
self-acceptance. Whenever you do something nice for another person,
you tend to feel better about yourself. Whenever you do or say
anything that causes another person to like himself more, you find
yourself liking yourself more as well.

One of the great riches of life is the self-acceptance that leads to
self-esteem and maximum performance. By being aware of and practicing
these recommendations, you can increase your self-acceptance to the
point where you can confidently move forward toward the realization of
your full potential.
About Brian Tracy
Brian Tracy is the most listened to audio author on personal and
business success in the world today. His fast-moving talks and
seminars on leadership, sales, managerial effectiveness and business
strategy are loaded with powerful, proven ideas and strategies that
people can immediately apply to get better results in every area. For
more information, please go to
The Psychology of Achievement

No comments: