Self esteem remains mythical in presence of self acceptance


Stating that no one wants to feel badly about his or her self-worth seems to be common sense.

But knowing how to feel highly about your value as a person has always been difficult – until now.

According to Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy, the answer is self-acceptance.

REBT, founded in 1955 by Albert Ellis, maintains all humans need unconditional self-acceptance, not self-esteem.

He wrote about the difference between self-esteem and acceptance in his book “The Myth of Self-Esteem,” and concluded judging yourself as a good person is dangerous.

Howard Schwartz, associate professor in speech-language pathology, agrees with Ellis. Schwartz, who received the primary certificate in REBT from the Albert Ellis Institute in New York City, uses Ellis’ philosophies when he deals with patients who stutter.

“The problem that many of my patients have is that since sometimes people look at them oddly or make fun of them because of their stuttering, they believe that they are stupid or dumb. But that’s simply not the case,” Schwartz said. “It shouldn’t matter what people think of you. As long as you unconditionally accept yourself, then it doesn’t matter.”

According to Ellis, when a person believes in self-esteem they use acts to define “self.” However, as all humans are fallible, they are bound to fail, which leads to failure defining a person.

When people unconditionally accept themselves, they do not allow failure to dictate “self,” and accept themselves no matter how badly they fail or how greatly they succeed.

Debra Pender, assistant professor of counseling, says unconditional self-acceptance is important.

“If you have an adversity like failing a test, you can look at it two ways: ‘Oh, I’m a failure’ or ‘Boy, there is something more for me to learn,'” Pender said. “Those who pick the latter experience more success.”

Pender believes the education system always has trouble with the concept of self-esteem.

Students rarely hear about unconditional self-acceptance.

“I was always led to believe that self-esteem was the key to feeling good about yourself,” said Robin Lee, a junior accountancy major. “I’ve never really given any thought to other options.”

When determining self-worth the answer seems to lie in accepting the good with the bad. Judging value only on failure will never leave a feeling of accomplishment. Listen to the REBT, and accept all parts of a person.