Self honesty, self trust, and self worth are three pillars of self acceptance. By choosing to prioritize and value these four concepts we may learn to take more control over ourselves and our emotional states, thus naturally relieving aspects of many of the common, self-selected mental illnesses that plague our society, today, including many forms of depression and anxiety.
Shedding light on personal meanings is important when discussing ideas like this so I’ll quickly run through how I see each concept.
Self honesty: The software of conscience. My discriminator between what is real and what is not, what is real and what is imaginary, or what is true and what is false, or what is true and what is imaginary. My willingness to confront myself with difficult questions and my determination to fulfill those questions with the most honest answers I can provide.
Self trust: The source of my conviction. The result of both testing and retesting my ideas against other myself and other people and also from seeing and documenting my own growth and progress. Self trust helps me to push the right button based on what self honesty informs me.
Self worth: Has similar sources for me as self trust, though my photography also adds something distinct. Self worth isn’t about how valuable we are to others; it’s about how we choose to value ourselves when nobody is watching. I can look at my collection of favourite photos I’ve taken and think to myself “I’ve made something nice here, and perhaps a bit unusual.” And this means something to me, even if nobody else sees or appreciates them, though it doesn’t contribute to my self trust in any significant way.
A possible exception to that might be in my decision making regarding trying new photographic techniques, or something like that, but this is getting very subjective and speculative. I think the important difference is that one is a purely creative act and the other is an analytical act; both have value and are beneficial to me, but one is much more trust building than the other, at least, for me. However, self worth does motivate and therefore encourage self honesty, thus completing the cycle.
Self Acceptance: All of the above values contribute to self acceptance. Self acceptance represents my internal struggle for equilibrium, or homeostasis. It boils down to how easily I can live with myself by the values I have chosen. Neither conscience nor denial pulls at thoughts of issues and aspects of myself and our environment that I accept. They simply are. Such things are either changeable or not, but either way they simply exist. Or, in the contexts of my values and worldview, “these ideas are the best I can do so far, but I’m working on it.” As I believe my worldview should never be static, and this means my values must keep pace with what I learn.
Science, philosophy, and art are, at their roots, three distinct ways in which people attempt to accept what is real. I think they taste best as a stew, simmered together over long nights of somber thought. Perhaps the false divisions between these fields of human study contribute to people’s unwillingness to accept the bigger picture, or larger equation, whether we’re looking outward at our environment or inward toward ourselves.
Perhaps if academics in each field stopped deriding one another while pretending their field to be the most valid or enlightened, perhaps then we would begin to make more progress with open collaboration. The data we collect with science is insufficient in itself without honest interpretations of the aforementioned data and lacking a coherent and secular and fact based philosophy to guide our development of conscience and self honesty we have proven incapable and unwilling to police ourselves in scientific academia for the factuality of our interpretations.
Rather, there is an ongoing crisis of low reproducibility of studies published, peer reviewed, and trusted by millions of people around the world. For the grossest examples one can look at climate science and the insidious impacts of the oil and methane gas industry.
For any of this to happen, more people in those roles and positions would need to work out their issues with self honesty, their extant emotional addictions, and the beliefs and expectations they value to support their emotional addictions. The work we need to do as human beings to recover from the condition we’ve chosen for ourselves begins internally with a scope of one person. The reason for this is that we weren’t taught to think this way as children; we were taught to develop and then to try to cope with our emotional addictions. The beliefs and expectations we hold to enable this process are high on the list of issues we must resolve with ourselves in pursuit of self acceptance.
With improved self acceptance we can then tackle the real problems in our lives and our world more creatively and more effectively. Imagine being unhampered by the false belief that “it just can’t be done” or “it can be no other way”. Imagine just seeing the problem in front of you for what it is, without feeling a need to induce emotions about it. Imagine caring honestly about the nature, scope, and impacts of the problem you’re confronting, but caring about maintaining your somber, accepting state just as much so that you have the best odds of realistically appraising the problem.
I’m just ringing off wild examples here but these kinds of consideration are important on many human scales. Most of the suffering extant in our world today is due to the poor emotional choices people made and continue to make. By adjusting our values, beliefs and expectations to make such emotionalism feel naturally unappealing we can become better people; we can grow as people. This necessitates a belief system that is honest and self critical. This is the next step in human development and we need to stop fearing it so much we refuse to try, en masse, at least once. But I think we’re just not quite sapient enough, we’ve done too much harm to our species with our false beliefs, already, and our environment is just a bit too harsh and marginal for most people to ever truly accept it with the upbringings and teachings they’ve already received. Individual life is short on these scales because it takes us so long to do this kind of internal work, but perhaps that’s because we have to resist the system itself in order to heal, because we have little support and cooperation in our pursuits, and we have the mountains of expectations of other people and institutions heaped on us, all of the time.
We could still choose to face the extinction we collectively chose with composure, and with compassion for each other, but I think most people won’t. They will instead try to gratify their emotional addictions in increasingly extreme manners as the doses of emotion necessary to make their brand of denial appealing and compelling would become overwhelming. This means the unnecessary suffering wrought by their mistakes will likely dwarf our current situation. Violence and dark ages approach. It’s just how it is because we failed to accept ourselves and our environment in time. But we can still accept it, and thereby make some peace with ourselves, on an individual scale.