Carl Rogers built an entire counseling theory on the core human need for self-acceptance. Believing that the rejection that we have experienced from significant others is at the root of our psychological struggle, Rogers set out to give his clients a gift: unconditional positive regard. What we now know is that this aspect of Rogers’ theory is the greatest factor in the therapeutic relationship. Being accepted by others as we are opens the door for us to begin to accept ourselves.
I would argue that no greater struggle exists for an introvert than the possession of self-acceptance. Because our nature is to see problems in things, it is easy and natural to extend that critical thinking inward toward ourselves. We see the flaws in ourselves and they are writ large. Many of us struggle with perfectionism and are incredibly hard on ourselves when we make mistakes. Those same mistakes that torment us are much more easily explained away or forgiven in others. We are ruthless with ourselves.
Because of this inward tendency, one of the greatest needs for a quiet leader is self-acceptance, being compassionate toward our selves, faults and all. This kind of self-acceptance is cultivated in the midst of accepting people. Self-acceptance is at the foundation of your personal happiness and effectiveness as a leader. Though it can be an elusive or difficult goal, working toward greater degrees of accepting yourself will yield many related results.
Here are some suggestions for increasing your self-acceptance:
1. Spend time in relationship with healthy people who accept you as the person you are. Minimize your contact with the opposite kind of people.
2. Work with a coach or counselor specifically on this goal.
3. Do some reading (bibliotherapy) in this area.
4. Leverage your spirituality.
Any gains that you can achieve in terms of self-acceptance will produce manifold results in all aspects of your life. You’ll be happier, more confident and better able to be the leader you were designed to be. It all starts with acceptance.