“We are each gifted in a unique and important way. It is our privilege and our adventure to discover our own special light.” ~Mary Dunbar
A friend of mine gave me two articles to read after a conversation we had on the importance of self-esteem. The articles were by Carol B. Low, Psy.D, of The Center of Conscious Living (http://www.centerforconsciousliving.com/). One was entitled, “Unconditional Self-Acceptance: Beyond Self-Esteem” and the other was “The Importance of Self Esteem.”
During our conversation we discussed that there are people who never think about self-esteem because it’s something that’s inherently a part of them. I used the example of people who are successful simply because they were born beautiful. These beauties, most likely, have ample amounts of self-esteem. Supermodels like Christie Brinkley or Christy Turlington came to mind. They turn heads when they enter a room. They needn’t worry about being asked on a date, or wonder whether an outfit compliments their perfect figure!
Of course, some beauties are doubly blessed by also possessing some form of talent. Sophia Loren, Catherine Deneuve, Grace Kelly, Ava Gardner, Audrey Hepburn – five talented and stunningly beautiful women who made their mark through their craft – acting in classic films.
NOTE: Christy Turlington and Christie Brinkley use their talents to advocate for causes they believe in. Ms. Turlington tirelessly advocates for increasing education and support for maternal mortality reduction. Ms. Brinkley advocates for human and animal rights and for the environment.
Of course I don’t personally know any of these infamous people, nor am I aware of the amount of self-esteem they may or may not possess/have possessed. I merely use their celebrity to illustrate examples of being born beautiful!
“Beauty is not in the face; beauty is a light in the heart.” ~Khalil Gibran
For those of us not born with these natural gifts, and who do not possess an ample amount of self-esteem, Ms. Low’s article about separating self-esteem from self-acceptance, understanding the difference between the two and learning how to achieve unconditional self-acceptance can be an extremely empowering exercise.
Self-esteem can be a lifelong pursuit. We can feel unworthy and can’t see ourselves as having great value while taking our place in the world. Some days we experience higher levels of worthiness, yet as life unfolds we make some mistakes, such as yelling at our children or gaining weight after a celebratory event. When we make our inevitable mistakes, our self-esteem plunges and we are back to square one once more. This cycle of high followed by low self-esteem happens continuously over a lifetime of events. It happens to everyone because we are all imperfect human beings.
“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection” ~Siddhartha Gautama
In her article, Dr. Low describes a much more doable state of being: unconditional self-acceptance. In unconditional self-acceptance, she states the following:
“It turns out that seeking self-esteem can be a life-long pursuit and that changes in one’s circumstances tend to lower one’s self-esteem, whereas unconditional self-acceptance, once defined and achieved, is stable over time. Thus, it is my contention that pursuing unconditional self-acceptance is a heartier and more useful concept than pursuing high self-esteem.”
“To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh
We must empower ourselves by learning to like ourselves unconditionally, no matter what we say or do. (Much like our pets loving us unconditionally!) I now say to myself, “Okay, I ate too much pasta and bread yesterday and probably gained a few pounds. I am still the same person I was yesterday. I still like myself, and gaining that weight hasn’t changed me intrinsically.”
If we can learn to embrace ourselves as we are, we will be able to weather any storms that come our way. We are not bad or undeserving because of mistakes we’ve made. We are human and will be faced with obstacles. We are allowed to make mistakes while we travel along on life’s journey.
After reading Dr. Low’s articles I felt pangs of relief – yes, relief – by simply realizing I can attain self-acceptance by learning to like myself unconditionally despite any mistakes I have made, or will make. This idea of self-acceptance has empowered me, and I hope you will either take the time to read these articles or explore these concepts yourself so that you, too, will find the same sense of empowerment that I did.
I’d love to hear what you have to say, and whether unconditional self-acceptance would make a difference in your life.
As we say at the end of each yoga class,
Namaste (I bow to you)
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