Mindfulness, Self-Esteem, and Unconditional Self-Acceptance

  • Brian L. ThompsonEmail author
  • Jennifer A. Waltz


Ellis (Ellis, A. (1996), Psychotherapy, 22(1), 149–151) has been a longstanding critic of the concept of self-esteem and has offered the notion of unconditional self-acceptance as an alternative. Other researchers have suggested that cultivating mindfulness––attention directed towards one’s immediate experiences with an attitude of non-judgment––also offers a healthier alternative to self-esteem (Ryan, R. M., & Brown, K. W. (2003) Psychological Inquiry, 14(1), 71–76). This study examined the relationship between mindfulness, self-esteem, and unconditional self-acceptance. A sample of 167 university students completed two measures of everyday mindfulness, and measures of self-esteem and unconditional self-acceptance. Positive correlations were found between mindfulness, self-esteem, and unconditional self-acceptance. Mindfulness skills may offer a means to cultivate unconditional self-acceptance and to shift from an emphasis on self-esteem as a measure of worth.


mindfulness self-acceptance self-esteem 


  1. Baer R. A., Smith G. T., & Allen K. B. (2004) Assessment of mindfulness by self-report: The Kentucky Inventory of Mindfulness Skills. Assessment, 11(3):191–206PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Baer R. A., Smith G. T., Hopkins J., Krietemeyer J., & Toney L. (2006) Using self-report assessment methods to explore facets of mindfulness. Assessment, 13(1):27–45PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bishop S. R., Lau M., Shapiro S., Carlson L., Anderson N. D., Carmody J., et al. (2004) Mindfulness: A proposed operational definition. Clinical Psychology: Science & Practice, 11(3):230–241CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Brown K. W., & Ryan R. M. (2003) The benefits of being present: Mindfulness and its role in psychological well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84(4):822–848PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Chamberlain J. M., & Haaga D. A. F. (2001a) Unconditional self-acceptance and psychological health. Journal of Rational-Emotive & Cognitive-Behavior Therapy, 19(3):163–176CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Chamberlain J. M., & Haaga D. A. F. (2001b) Unconditional self-acceptance and responses to negative feedback. Journal of Rational-Emotive & Cognitive-Behavior Therapy, 19(3):177–189CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Ellis A. (1976) RET abolishes most of the human ego. Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, and Practice, 13(4):343–248CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Ellis A. (1984) The place of meditation in cognitive-behavior therapy and rational emotive therapy. In D. H. Shapiro, R. N. Walsh (Eds.) Meditation: Classic and contemporary perspectives pp. 671–673 New York: Aldine,Google Scholar
  9. Ellis A. (1996) How I learned to help clients feel better and get better. Psychotherapy, 22(1):149–151Google Scholar
  10. Feldman, G. C., Hayes, A. M., Kumar, S. M., & Greeson, J. M. (2003) Clarifying the construct of mindfulness: Relations with emotional avoidance, over-engagement, and change with mindfulness training. Paper presented at the Association for the Advancement of Behavior Therapy, Boston, MAGoogle Scholar
  11. Goleman, D. (Ed.). (1997) Healing emotions: Conversation with the Dalai Lama on mindfulness, emotions, and health. Boston & London: ShambhalaGoogle Scholar
  12. Heatherton, T. F., & Wyland, C. L. (2003) Assessing self-esteem. In S. J. Lopez & C. R. Snyder (Eds.) Positive psychological assessment: A handbook of models and measures (pp. 219–233). Washington, DC: APAGoogle Scholar
  13. Kabat-Zinn J. (2003) Mindfulness-based interventions in context: Past, present, and future. Clinical Psychology: Science & Practice, 10(2):144–156CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Martin J. R. (1997) Mindfulness: A proposed common factor. Journal of Psychotherapy Integration, 7,291–312CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Rosenberg M. (1965) Society and the adolescent self-image. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University PressGoogle Scholar
  16. Ryan R. M., & Brown K. W. (2003) Why we don’t need self-esteem: On fundamental needs, contingent love, and mindfulness. Psychological Inquiry, 14(1):71–76Google Scholar
  17. Shapiro S. L., Carlson L. E., Astin J. A., & Freedman B. (2006) Mechanisms of mindfulness. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 62(3):373–386PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Trungpa C. (1973) Cutting through the spiritual materialism. Boston & London: ShambhalaGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of MontanaMissoulaUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of MontanaMissoulaUSA

Personalised recommendations