High self-esteem is a desirable quality, but you can’t have it without self-acceptance.
Self-acceptance is an absolutely essential component of having high self-esteem, but what does self-acceptance mean? Some people think accepting yourself just as you are means that you condone or are proud of your faults – but that is a mistaken idea. You see, to “accept” means to experience the full reality, without denial or avoidance. We can accept the reality of things about ourselves that we don’t like or condone at all.
For example, suppose you are feeling envious of a friend who has a better job. If you accept yourself, you can allow yourself to acknowledge this envious feeling and take the time to examine and think about it. As we do this, we are not concerned with judging it as bad or weak, but we are concerned with being aware. It is our awareness that will show us that we have wanted something more than we realized, and we will need to think about that as well.
You see, you can’t grow out of your unwanted feelings if you are not aware that you even have them. If you judge your feelings as bad or weak, you’ll be inclined to push them down into your subconscious where they’ll express themselves in ways you can’t control.
So, the next time you find yourself thinking something you feel guilty about, try practicing awareness and self-acceptance. This means refusing to be in an adversarial relationship with yourself, and this is one of the basic building blocks of self-esteem.