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This Is What Self-Acceptance Can Do For Your Mind

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After failures, people’s tendency is to engage in self-destructive behaviours.

Practising self-acceptance is one of the best ways to deal with failure, recent research finds.

Failures can strike deep at the heart of our feelings of self-worth.

After failures, people’s tendency is to engage in self-destructive behaviours.

Things like drinking and reckless spending can make us feel better in the short-term.

Instead, researchers have found, self-acceptance can help us better deal with the inevitable.

The study’s authors write:

“When a person’s beliefs and expectations are undermined, it can detrimentally harm their self-worth.

Unlike self-esteem, self-acceptance that is inherently unconditional may better prepare someone for inevitable failures — ultimately serving as a less volatile alternative for promoting well-being.”

Across a series of five experiments, the researchers tested the effects of failure and self-acceptance.

They found that self-acceptance reduced the chance that people would engage in behaviours that only really served to hurt themselves.

The study’s authors write:

“Consider the person who has just realized that they are poorly prepared financially for retirement.

They might either go out and buy something expensive or start binge eating or drinking as a way to avoid dealing with their problems.

We introduce the idea that practicing self-acceptance is a more effective alternative to this type of self-destructive behavior.”

At the same time, self-acceptance helped people to work harder to improve themselves.

Self-acceptance seems to work by reducing the damaging effects of failures on their self-worth.

The study’s authors write:

“…through self-acceptance, individuals reduce compensatory consumption and are more likely to engage in adaptive consumption to address self-deficits.

Evidence suggests that self-acceptance affects individuals’ responses to self-deficit information by changing their appraisal of self-deficits from harmful to benign to their self-worth.”

The study was published in the Journal of Consumer Research (Kim & Gal, 2014).

About the author

Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.

He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2013) and several ebooks:

Dr Dean’s bio, Twitter, Facebook and how to contact him.

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