Acceptance of self and others nc state extension publications static electricity sound effect

A person with high self-esteem accepts herself as she is and can let others know how she thinks and feels. A person with low self-esteem fears others will “find her out” and dislike or reject her. She has a difficult time letting people know what she is thinking or feeling.

When a person with low self-esteem reveals exactly how he feels about himself, he has taken the first step toward self-acceptance and growth. If the listener is helpful and trustworthy, the person sharing his feelings may gain courage and start sharing with others. As others accept him, he accepts himself and growth continues.

Without self-acceptance, a person can make little or no progress in effective relationships. Noted psychologist Carl Rogers observed that, normally, those feel that they are liked, wanted, accepted, capable, or worthy who are found in prisons or mental hospitals. Those who are confined in such institutions often feel deeply inadequate, unliked, unwanted, unacceptable, or unable. A self-rejecting person is usually unhappy and unable to form and maintain good relationships.

Start learning to accept yourself and set up a cycle of self-fulfilling prophesies. When you think well of yourself, you will expect others to accept and appreciate you. Then when people do accept you, it confirms what you thought. Unfortunately, this also works the other way. A person who rejects herself will tend to reject others and expect them to reject her. When she does reject others, they likewise tend to reject her, so her expectation is fulfilled.

It may be difficult to take the first risk by being honest and genuine. But if we hide essential information about ourselves and try to create a certain image that we know is not true, we are not self-accepting. It doesn’t help if someone accepts an image, because she isn’t accepting the real self. This person knows others may like his “mask” a little, but fears what would happen if they really knew what he thinks and feels.

Only when one is loved, cared for, and accepted for what he or she is does one begin to feel worthy of respect and love. The absence of such acceptance may be one explanation for so much of this country’s loneliness, escape through drugs and alcohol, and retreat into rigid and unloving personalities.

Communicating acceptance between people creates feelings of emotional safety. In such an atmosphere one can relax and discuss herself without fear of evaluation. To build close, satisfying relationships, a person must communicate acceptance and the verbal and nonverbal message must be, “You’re OK.”

There are two major skills involved in communicating acceptance. The first one is listening with understanding. Skillful listening will help one understand what the other person is saying and how the other person is feeling. This type of listening shows the other person how interested you are. You are taking his ideas and feelings so seriously that you check carefully to make sure you understand before you move on with the conversation. The person becomes less defensive and mutual trust is created. Skillful listening can be a very powerful tool.

The second skill is the expression of warmth and acceptance. This means letting that person know how you feel and what you think. You may express acceptance to encourage the person to tell you more, or you may express the warmth just as a response to what has already been shared. Unconditional acceptance brings more trust; conditional acceptance involves some evaluation and judgement. At a later time, you may reinforce your acceptance of others by being available when the person needs help, asking him to help you when you need it, spending time with the other person, or going out of your way to help him.