Unconditional self-acceptance

by | 23 Mar 2023 | Unleashing You, Wellbeing

Accepting ourself is easy when things are going well. For many of us it becomes more challenging when we make a mistake or things go wrong.

Understanding unconditional self-acceptance

We can break unconditional self-acceptance down into its three elements: unconditional, self, and acceptance.

  • ‘Unconditional’ means something which is not contingent on anything else. 
  • ‘Self’ is a highly complicated construct. We are a mix of so many elements but fundamentally we are all human, and each of us is unique. 
  • ‘Acceptance’ has been defined as ‘acknowledgement of the existence of something in the form in which it currently exists’ (Dryden, 2003)


Self-acceptance can be relatively easy when we have done something well or achieved something.  We have information that we take as validating to our sense of worth.

When we add the word ‘unconditional’ it becomes a lot harder.

Unconditional self-acceptance is ‘the state of complete acceptance of oneself. True self-acceptance is embracing who you are, without any qualifications, conditions, or exceptions’ (Seltzer, 2008).

A person with self-acceptance does not feel less than someone else because they failed or have flaws; neither do they feel better than others because they have succeeded or have strengths.


“The thing that is really hard, and is really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself”   

A Quindlen

The impact of unconditional self-acceptance

To achieve overall health, we need to look after our psychological health and a factor identified as a key component of this is self-acceptance (Ryff, 1989).

In a scale validated to measure self-acceptance, those that scored higher had a positive attitude towards themselves, acknowledged and accepted different aspects of themselves both good and bad; and overall felt positive about their past life.

Research found those with lower scores for self-acceptance demonstrated feelings of dissatisfaction with themselves, wanted to be different, disliked qualities about themselves, and felt negative about past life experiences.

Research (Haaga & Chamberlain, 2001) has found lower levels of unconditional self-acceptance were linked to higher levels of anxiety and depression, and lower feelings of positivity in life.

How we are evaluating ourself

There are a range of internal and external factors that we use to rate ourself.

Internally these may be a range of beliefs about criteria that equate to value and our sense of worth, e.g. always putting others first and if we consider ourself it is selfish.

Externally there may be standards we compare ourself to, and again use to rate ourself, and decide our worth. For example, whether we meet targets at work, or go on extravagant holidays like other people we know.

When we measure up positively to these internal and external measures, we find it easy to accept ourself.  Unconditional self-acceptance means we can take a more objective view of these internal and external influences and separate them out from our value as a person. 


Look at the other blogs in this series Unconditional self-acceptance – why is it challenging, and Unconditional self-acceptance – developing it.  You may also be interested in the blogs about Self-compassion and Limiting beliefs.

Accepting Ourself is one of the modules in Unleashing You, the ILM approved programme for personal growth, increased performance, enhanced wellbeing, and overall feelings of positivity.

Contact us below for more details

To learn more please contact us on 01202 612 326 or through the options below. We’ll discuss details and how we can help you or your organisation.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

If you'd like to learn more about how to work together please get in touch

© Protea Solutions

Terms and Conditions

Privacy policy