Friday, September 30, 2011

Self Esteem and Acceptance

The original introduction was bookended with these two paragraphs:

I was once a volunteer news reporter for the University of Calgary student newspaper, the Gauntlet. We did not allow columns. In fact, for sensible reasons, columns were explicitly banned in the Gauntlet constitution. Years later the ban was lifted without, as far as I can tell, anyone asking what those reasons might have been.

Back in my day I got around the ban by occasionally writing "essays to my editor" for the letters section. This meant effort and risk: Any column worth doing meant not merely sharing my perspective but the risk of sharing myself- and my mistakes. When I did my Self Esteem piece my editor shook my hand: obviously I was speaking to a concern of many students.

Self Esteem and Acceptance

Weight-loss through self acceptance? An aerobics leader told her diet class to put their hands on their fat parts and think loving thoughts. Everybody was amazed: Didn't they need a fierce hatred of their body, a hatred of themselves, in order to be motivated to lose those tenacious pounds? No. Self acceptance is a far, far better motivator.

Too many of us depend instead on a sort of self esteem to get us through life. But it can kill us. In the last days of 1929 well dressed businessmen were throwing themselves out of office windows. Their "self esteem" involved a sort of mental ledger where they could feel good about themselves only if their credits outweighed their bad points (debits). When they no longer had "enough" money... How sad, especially when many of their peers, equally devastated, went on to recoup their fortunes.

A friend, Jackie, once explained "self acceptance" through an example. It seems that when a baby is born it is covered with an ugly white coating that serves as a protection against infection. Jackie told me, "You accept the baby not despite the white stuff but along with it." I just looked blank. She said, "You don't get it, do you?"


"Just go home and ponder the words literally." So I did, and finally it sunk in.

Today I can be accepting of my world and the people in it. My body, my life, my essence... all are imperfectly beautiful... along with, not despite, my imperfections.

And I know now, with a peaceful finality, that I will never commit the spiritual equivalent of diving out the office window.

Sean Crawford

coping with the US-led world recession,
but staying off any ledges,
January 2009