Emotional Insight: Unconditional Self-Acceptance (USA)
As a consultant working with individuals desiring emotional sobriety, one of the essential principles I implore my clients to embrace is Unconditional Self-Acceptance (USA). USA, a foundational principle of Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT), means to fully accept yourself as a worthy person regardless of whether you performed in a desirable or undesirable way, and irrespective of others approval of you. It is to avoid assigning a label or rating to your total worth as a person. For instance, regardless of how good or bad you perform, this does not make you a “good person” or a “bad person,” a “success” or a “failure”—that would be assigning a global rating (label) to yourself. Instead of rating your worth (your essence), USA encourages you to evaluate and rate your performance in a given task: good or bad, effective or ineffective, satisfactory or unsatisfactory. Additionally, by adopting USA you side-step the “emotional roller-coaster” of self-esteem: defining what it is, pursuing it, protecting and maintaining it…etc. USA makes a clear distinction between your intrinsic worth and your performance. The words of Gandhi exemplify this distinction, “Hate the sin, but love the sinner.”
You are strongly encouraged to exercise the following action steps to help you actualize Unconditional Self-Acceptance and resist the trap of conditional self-acceptance and self-rating:
1. Establish and clarify your goals, values and purpose;
2. Rate what you think, feel, say and do as good or bad as they relate to your established goals and values, hence “good” (constructive towards your goals) or “bad” (destructive towards your goals);
3. Be diligent and unremitting in your effort to resist the “natural tendency” to equate your good or bad rating of what you think, feel, say or do to your essence, your worth as a person.
4. Repeat this self-statement as often as needed: “I am going to unconditionally accept myself as I was divinely designed to be, a fallible (mistake and error prone) human being, and I will no longer continue to upset myself by demanding and commanding myself be other than what I was designed to be: a Fallible Human Being!”