Self-acceptance should open the door for self-improvement, not shut the door
Today’s ultra-competitive, globally connected world can afflict anyone of us with low self-esteem. By comparing ourselves negatively with those who are better than us, we may start feeling that: whatever we do will never count much; indeed, our very existence is worthless.
To ensure that we don’t burden ourselves with such crippling self-condemnation, we need the shield of self-acceptance. Though we need to accept ourselves as we are, self-acceptance can be taken to unhealthy extremes. How? By claiming that self-acceptance means we should consider ourselves perfect as we are. Such a self-congratulatory notion of self-acceptance shuts the door for self-improvement.
To think that we are already perfect is dangerously delusional. Who among us doesn’t have painful inadequacies?
Gita wisdom imbues us self-acceptance with the strong steel of spiritual insight. It explains that our existence has intrinsic value; we are parts of the divine and can be a part of the divine plan for our and others’ spiritual evolution; we have the potential to make the world better, or at least to make our own world better. Even if we have failed to improve ourselves, we still have the potential for positive transformation. But this potential has to struggle to manifest through the layers of conditionings accumulated through our present and past actions. These conditionings can impel us toward actions that are binding and blinding (Bhagavad-gita 18.60).
For the divine potential to surface through our dark conditionings, we need to connect with the indwelling divine (18.61-62).
Thus, self-acceptance means that though we have defects and deficiencies, we still have the divine potential that if accessed and unleashed can make our life meaningful and worthwhile. Such self-acceptance can fill our life with hope and energy, because it opens the door for self-transformation and beckons us to march through.
Think it over:
- Why is self-acceptance essential? How can it become extremist?
- How does Gita wisdom foster self-acceptance?
- How can self-acceptance fill us with hope?
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