Unconditional Self-Acceptance and Self-Compassion

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Abstract

This book is largely concerned with one stance that it is possible to take towards the “self”—self-acceptance. However, it is possible to take a number of other productive stances towards the “self” and in this chapter, I will consider the relationship between unconditional self-acceptance (USA) and one of these other stances: self-compassion (SC). In doing so, I will draw upon the ideas of several major theorists in these respective fields. Thus, in discussing USA, I will draw upon the work of Albert Ellis (2005), Maxie Maultsby (1984), Paul Hauck (1991) as well as those of my own (Dryden, 2003); and in discussing SC, I will draw heavily on the ideas of Kristin Neff (e.g. Neff, 2003a). While this chapter is based on the proposition that it is best to develop USA before SC, I will argue that these two concepts can be integrated both conceptually and practically. It is my basic thesis that the two concepts augment one another and that a therapeutic strategy based on the two together will be more productive than one based on each alone. I will begin by defining precisely what I mean by unconditional self-acceptance and self-compassion.