008  Lessons on self-acceptance 

People feel hurt most when those closest to them seem oblivious to their emotional needs. 

“Isn’t it justified to expect our parents, spouse, children and close friends to be more understanding and supportive? Isn’t that what they are supposed to do? To accept us for who we are, that’s all.”

  • Do you have an emotional need to seek acceptance from others? 

We all have an emotional need for acceptance by others, albeit at varying degrees.

At the early stage of our life as young children, we were mostly needy for adoration from our parents in order to feel safe. At adolescent stage, many of us were constantly seeking endorsement from friends in order to feel accepted. Even after we reached adulthood, many adults continue to crave affirmation from others, at workplace and at home, in order to feel appreciated.

Such needs for adoration, endorsement and affirmation is an expression of an intrinsic need for people to feel safe, accepted and appreciated.  

  • Adverse consequences to craving for acceptance 

Although there are obvious benefits in gaining acceptance from others as described above, there are adverse consequences to craving for acceptance. 

Craving for acceptance becomes a serious problem if you cannot self-soothe during difficult times when such emotional needs are not met.

Employees become disgruntled workers when they are under-appreciated by their bosses. Close friends drift apart when one party senses the camaraderie between them is somewhat lost. Spouses turn into strange bedfellows when one partner constantly feel misjudged by the other.  Even parents-and-child relationship become strained when their expectations are misaligned.

  • Importance of self-acceptance 

As you can see, a deficit in acceptance from others can be detrimental to keeping good and healthy relationships. Moreover, blaming others is more likely to exacerbate the problem than solving it.

If you are deeply upset over not getting sufficient acceptance from others, the real problem could be that you have mistakenly allowed your own value to be subjected to other’s approval. 

Simply said, you have probably lost sight of your “self”. A prior question to seeking acceptance from others is to ask whether you are accepting your “self” in the first place. 

  • A personal experience that taught me the importance of self-acceptance

I was taught the importance of self-acceptance from a personal schooling experience.

Since young, I have a penchant to gain favour and affirmation from parents and teachers, perhaps even from friends through scholastic excellence. Somehow it was indoctrinated in me that I must deliver results to make people feel proud of me. Fortunately for me, getting good grades was never that difficult, until the age of eighteen.

So you could probably imagine my devastation when I unexpectedly got two Cs grades and one E grade in the crucial examination at GCE A’s levels, which almost blew my chance of admission to the University. That result slip spelt the end of a promising future for a supposedly Ace grade student. Unable to accept the outcome, I spent days after days in solitary, agonising over how to face the people I disappointed and wondering what went so wrong.  I had no answers.

I felt as if every ounce of my self-worth was decimated. I knew my strength was in studying, but without proof of academic achievement, who am I really?

If not for my parents who showed that they cared for me far more than any whatsoever results, and a good friend who cared enough to visit and nudge me hard to apply for admission to the University, the path I took in life would have turned out quite differently.

On hindsight, it was a humbling experience that did me a lot of good. It taught me a great deal about accepting failures, and knowing both my strengths and weaknesses. 

  • Learn to accept both your strengths and weaknesses

When we are self-accepting, we accept not just our strengths, but also our short-comings. 

Recognising our strengths prevent us from being short-changed by others who think lesser of us. Accepting our weaknesses allow us to take in criticisms from others without being overly defensive. 

By accepting both our strengths and weaknesses, we learn to be confident with who we are, which frees us from the tyranny of others’ judgement. 

Do not live in the judgement of others. Learn to accept our imperfections and yet confident enough to improve ourselves for the better. At the end, it is only us who can judge if we have lived our lives fully.

William W K Tan

31 August 2017 (Thursday)

6:10 a.m.

Bangkok, Thailand.

(Finally, this time I am not travelling overseas for work, but time for family and self. 😊)

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