THE BLOG

Acceptance Is Best

06/13/2015 12:23 pm ET | Updated Jun 11, 2016

I read something this week that just really blew me away...

If you've been following me, you know that I put a big emphasis on the mental and emotional components of change.

One of the techniques that I've used in my own life and also taught others for years is the whole concept of "fighting" negative voices or mental patterns that try to hold us back. Here's one of my classic posts on Overcoming Overwhelm.

Basically, you're confronting the accusations that taunt you and replacing them with the truth.

This is a great technique, and it definitely works wonders.

But since I'm committed to learning and growing, I'm always on the look out for new ways to be my best self and to empower you to be your best self. And this week, I came across a very different, but also very effective approach in a book called Ten Days to Self Esteem by David D. Burns, M.D.

It's called the "Acceptance Paradox," and it works like this:

"Instead of defending yourself against your own self-criticisms. You don't try to build yourself up or fight back. Instead, you do just the opposite: You simply accept the fact that you are broken, imperfect, and defective. You accept your shortcomings with honesty and inner peace. The surprising result is that you can often gain invulnerability when you make yourself completely vulnerable and defenseless."

When I first read this paragraph, I thought, What?! This can't be correct.

We can't just be passive and allow these negative thoughts to pound us down. We need to stick up for ourselves, put up our defenses and fight back to the bullying thoughts.

And in some cases, I think I'm absolutely right that denying the lies and claiming the truth about yourself is the correct and most effective strategy.

But as I read on, I realized that this Acceptance Paradox technique might be a good alternative when getting fired up fails.

The absolutely essential and most critical key in the Acceptance Paradox technique is HOW you agreed with the accusations. You do this not from a place of fear, shame or denial, but with a sense of total inner peace, strength and self esteem.

In essence, this technique is not letting critics get to you. It's the equivalent of a bully on the school playground saying something to you like, "You have a big nose."

And because you really don't care what that person thinks, you know that your value is not based on the size of your nose, and you're in touch with the fact that there is some reality to that statement, you simply reply with a shrug of your shoulders and a steady look into his or her eyes, "Yep. I do have a big nose." Then you move on leaving the bully speechless.

Interesting, isn't it?

When someone or something is really getting you down, you just might be able to release its power over you by finding and agreeing with the truth in the criticism but with a total, unshakable sense of inner peace and self acceptance.

About Real Life E®
Elizabeth Grace Saunders is the founder and CEO of Real Life E® a time coaching and training company that empowers individuals who feel guilty, overwhelmed and frustrated to feel peaceful, confident and accomplished. She is an expert on achieving more success with less stress. Real Life E® also increases employee productivity, satisfaction and work/life balance through training programs.

McGraw Hill published her first book The 3 Secrets to Effective Time Investment: How to Achieve More Success with Less Stress. Harvard Business Review recently published her second book How to Invest Your Time Like Money. Elizabeth contributes to blogs like Lifehacker, Harvard Business Review, Forbes, and the 99U blog on productivity for creative professionals and has appeared on CBS, ABC, NBC, and Fox.