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Excerpted from Self-Esteem by Matthew McKay and Patrick Fanning. Copyright © 2000 by Matthew McKay and Patrick Fanning. Excerpted by permission of New Harbinger Publications, Inc.  All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. HTML and web pages copyright © by SpiritSite.com.
 

"Forgiveness flows out of understanding and acceptance."

  Matthew McKay and Patrick Fanning,
Self-Esteem
, Part 3

Acceptance

Acceptance is perhaps the most difficult aspect of compassion. Acceptance is an acknowledgement of the facts, with all value judgments suspended. You neither approve nor disapprove-you accept. For example, the statement "I accept the fact that I'm out of shape" does not mean "I'm out of shape and that's perfectly OK with me." It means "I'm out of shape and I know it. I may not like it. In fact, sometimes I may feel like a barrel of flab. But right now I'm putting my feelings aside, editing out value judgments, and just facing the bare facts."

Marty is a good example of the power of acceptance. He was an auto body worker who constantly put him self down for being a "short, fat, ugly little man." As part of his struggle to gain self-compassion, he composed a brief description of himself to use every time his pathological critic started whispering "short . . . fat . . .ugly." He would counter by saying, "I'm five-foot-six, and I accept that. I'm 182 pounds, and I accept that. I'm get ting bald, and I accept that, too. These are all facts. These facts are to be accepted, not used to beat myself up."

Acceptance of others involves acknowledging the facts about them with out your usual judgments. For example, Laurie usually thought of a particular teacher as a "cold fish, totally with out feelings. He never gives a word of encouragement or extra time for assignments." However, she made a great effort to accept this man because she had to work with him on an important student-faculty committee. First, Laurie got rid of the derogatory labels in her mind. Then she men tally ran down the facts: "Doctor Sommers is quiet, reserved, and detached. He usually gives help only when formally asked. He takes deadlines very seriously. I may not like his style as a teacher, but I accept him for what he is. I can work with him and still accomplish some thing." This exercise in understanding helped Laurie get some important joint resolutions passed by her committee. The whole experience boosted her self-esteem as well, because she felt that she had learned the value of being a little more detached and reserved herself.

Forgiveness

Forgiveness flows out of understanding and acceptance. Like those two traits, it doesn't mean approval. It means letting go of the past, reaffirming self-respect in the present, and looking toward a better future. When you forgive yourself for screaming at your child, you don't change wrong to right or for get all about it. Your tantrum was still the wrong thing to have done, and you will remember your mistake so that you can do better in the future. But you do write "case closed" and proceed with today's business with out dwelling on the incident and feeling rotten all over again.

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