Acceptance vs. Self-acceptance: Ways Forward

‘Acceptance’ is a popular term of human psychology in which a person accepts or gives his assent to a real situation and thus recognizes all processrs and conditions attached herewith without wishing for any change, alteration or protest.

In a further explanation it can also be explained as an agreement when something is offered by a company or party and another receives it becomes a sign of positive welcome, belonging, favour and endorsement. In the sense, this act of acceptance is automatically converted into a contract and imposed several bindings on behalf of the proposer in the form and manner it is proposed.

Apart from psychological parameters, the spiritual side defines acceptance as the ‘surrender to the now’ which simply means that we have accepted all things without changing any fact about the prevailing situation and there is no story attached herewith and in either way it is an acceptance of the fact whatsoever the emotions are- sad, afraid, happy or overthinking.

It is thought to be necessary for good mental health. In the sphere of psychological benefits, self-acceptance includes mood regulation, decreases depression, and increases positive emotions to fight the individual’s incapaciies internally and externally.

In contrast to this self-acceptance is an individual’s satisfaction  or happiness with oneself. In the sense it is directly related to one’s awareness of strength as well as weaknesses, based on realistic approach, talent and capabilities. This quality of man is beneficial for mental health as it involves self-understanding, followed by self-acceptance. In this context it is also supposed to be good for clinical psychology and positive psychology because it allows  a person to change by stopping, criticizing, and solving his ot her defects. In other words, while acceptance means allowing all things, thoughts, feelings and urges to come and go without struggling with them, self-acceptance is a realization of one’s deficiencies, awareness, strength as well as weaknesses and thus, better for physical and mental health of an individual.

In any case, when we compare acceptance and self-acceptance the former is an acceptance of the offer as presented by a company or entity without considering any pros and cons while self-acceptance is a conscious evaluation of self and accepting it with all deficiencies, strengths, and capabilities based on facts and reality. Under it, there is no such compulsion or compromise in case of self-acceptance and therefore it sounds well in spiritual meanings and further study.

This is why the ancient Greeks preferred self-acceptance rather than acceptance and the study of ‘Self’ went long way in advance of several contemporary theories, therapy, and developmental approach especially, while working on mental health, theory of personality, self-developmental works and lifespan theories. Even in today’s daily life the concept of self-acceptance is more recognised than acceptance because the former has 1.a positive self-attitude, 2. It acknowledges all aspects including good as well as bad, 3. It contains a clear identity and has no confusion, and 4. It believes in reality and facts inside and outside.

While under acceptance people generally accept the given outcome without making any comment and no matter arises about the previous events but only approval is important and, in most cases, there is no scope for resistance.

However, the concept of acceptance is commonly used in the sphere of religion where acceptance of faith or religious rules/dicta is compulsory, and in the treatment of alcoholism. This formula is beneficial in treating a disturbed people when they are upset by s person, place, thing, or situation. In the context, the concept of self-acceptance is better because it does not allow us to be unhappy; or have feelings of isolation, loneliness and others that negate our health and immune system at large, and thus being a boon for physical and mental health of humanity.

Related to the concept of acceptance is the aspect of social acceptance which is defined as the fact that most people, in order to fit in with others, look and act like them and in other words it may also refer to the ability to accept  or to tolerate differences or diversity in other people or groups of people. In today’s world it is a common term where people of all age groups, children, teenagers and adults along with people with mental disabilities, because social acceptance works as a precondition for leading a normal life in society whereby people of all ages get a lot through interactions with other people who live together. Under it, a vast network of welcoming and tolerating diversified things are created to make life easy in every field.

This journey of social acceptance begins from early childhood when a child tries to mix with other children and also makes some changes in his attitudes and habits simply to fit in, or be adjusted. In the process they copy others’ hairstyle, clothes designs, as well as other social habits, to lead a normal life. The same is also followed by adults and even aged people when they face any social humiliation or insult in public. Apart from these normal cases, social acceptance plays a vital role in treating the mentally ill or disabled people who need support of people and groups  in society, and society, in general, must take care of diseased persons of every age to make the social environment supportive and healthy; it however, sometimes requires some conditions that need to be fulfilled.

In addition to the words- acceptance and self-acceptance, there is the issue of belief which affects our life in close scrutiny while accepted by individuals, especially, in religious context, equally applied to Islam and Christianity. For Islam, more suitable words are ‘surrender’ and ‘voluntary submission’ while for Christianity acceptance is based on accepting Jesus of Nazareth as the Christ and God’s will. While detailing the acceptance it may be of two kinds- expressed and implied. In expressed acceptance people normally accept all conditions attached with the offer in an overt way and explicitly give consent in favour without making any change in the offer, but in implied acceptance people express their intent to consent in an indirect way demonstrating or indicating an act of consent. However, in comparison, the concept of self-acceptance is better and helpful for common man in a society as it 1. Increases the sense of freedom, 2. Decreases the fear of failure, 3. Increases the volume of independence, 4. Means less desire for approval of others, 5. Becomes more kind when mistakes occur, 6. Leads a life focused on self, 7. Takes more risks without caring for consequences,

It is thought to be necessary for good mental health. In the sphere of psychological benefits, self-acceptance includes mood regulation, decreases depression, and increases positive emotions to fight the individual’s incapacities internally and externally.

The writer is Professor of Political Science and Dean of Social Sciences along with Dean, Student’s Welfare (DSW), at B.N. Mandal University, Madhepura (Bihar), India. His 21 books published in addition to 900 articles in national and international journals and daily newspapers from 25 foreign countries. 

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