Albert Ellis, founder of Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy said: “Acceptance is not love. You love a person because he or she has lovable traits, but you accept everybody just because they’re alive and human.” How is it that we so desperately crave unconditional acceptance, but are so slow to give it to others or ourselves?
What are your “only ifs”?
Whether it is for yourself, your partner, family, colleagues, or society in general, I am sure that you hold a number of conditions. Perhaps a person is acceptable to you only if they are kind, considerate, understanding, fair, intelligent, loving, perfect… Reality is that people can never be just that. Humans are imperfect: they can be kind and inconsiderate at the same time; fair yet selfish; interesting and simple. What are the conditions you hold in order to accept yourself and others?
- Compile a list: I will only accept (insert name) if (insert condition)….
- Rewrite the list: I will accept (insert name) even if (insert condition)….
What gives you a sense of worth?
This is a challenging question that is worthy of some attention. Perhaps you believe that you are a worthwhile person because you can do nice things, earn an income, or act kindly. Well, what if that was taken away from you?
You may find it helpful to watch the movie Stronger. Jeff Bauman became a paraplegic at the Boston Marathon bombing. In this movie, he wrestles with making sense of the event and finding his sense of worth.
If you were in a car accident and became paralysed, what would give you value? Perhaps your brain, personality, or relationships. But what if you were in a car accident and had a traumatic brain injury causing personality change? What would make you worthwhile then?
Perhaps there is no one answer to knowing your worth. I do however know, that if we rely on external things to grant us a sense of worth, we are at high risk of being vulnerable to the disapproval of others.
Unconditional acceptance challenge
I would like to challenge you to accept that you and the people around you are
- Complex (vs compartmentalized e.g. all good or all bad)
- Fallible (vs perfect)
- Constantly changing (vs fixed and rigid)
Engage in the discussion some more by contacting me for a session.