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The Impact of Self-acceptance on Wealth Creation

Welcome to this month’s newsletter.

I am going to throw my two cents into a very sensitive subject that can potentially hold back our wealth creation efforts, regardless of what investments we go for and how much knowledge and experience we might have.

The subject is whether or not we accept ourselves as a “good” person, and therefore someone who is worthy of having all the good things we actually want in our dreams. But before I go any further, I just want you to know that what I am about to discuss is nowhere near a comprehensive analysis of the subject of “self-acceptance” or “self-worth”. (I actually doubt whether anyone can provide a comprehensive analysis either, but I hope that by sharing some of my experience and observations on this subject with you, you may find some part of it relevant and useful to your own situation).

Now some of you may be surprised that I question whether we are good. “Of course we are!” you may say, since we are sure we are not doing anything consciously bad to other people or getting into trouble with the law, etc. I know, but that is not my definition of what the word “good” means here.

Let me use a few examples to show you how we can all potentially think we are “bad”:

  • 1. You may have promised to do something for someone, but you failed to keep that promise. So you start to avoid the person you gave your promise to or avoid the subject that the promise was about, because you feel “bad” about it. In fact you know it is “bad” for you not to have kept your promise.

    The type of promise could be about anything. It could have been a promise to your family you would look after them financially, or the promise to your employer that you would do your best at work. You might have promised your employees that you will provide them the opportunities to grow, or promised your kids that you will spend more time with them, or even promised yourself that you will look after your body and exercise.

    Above all else there is always the implicit promise you made to yourself that you would keep your promises once made.

  • 2. You may have made an investment decision that has cost you and your family a fortune and caused a lot of emotional upset for everyone.

    You may still blame yourself for acting irrationally or listening to other people’s bad advice. Whatever it was, now every time someone mentions the word “investment”, it reminds you of how “bad” you are as an investor or how “irresponsible” you are as a person.

  • 3. You let something bad happen in your life knowing that you could have done something earlier to prevent it. Now you live with so much regret that you couldn’t forgive this “bad” person, namely you, for what you failed to do.

    It could have been spoiling your kids with no responsibility while they were growing up, or not putting your best efforts into educating yourself when you were younger. You might think you didn’t look after someone’s health earlier before it got out of control.

    You feel that you are “bad” for not taking the necessary proactive actions you now think you should have done to make things better, so you live with guilt and regret every day.

  • 4. You did something in your past you don’t admire and you are disappointed with yourself.

    This could have been making some envious remarks behind someone’s back to undermine their success because you felt they made you feel inferior. You could have told a small lie to get yourself out of a tough spot, or distorted some truth for your own convenience, or tried to impress someone with something you don’t really have, or even put other people down just to make yourself feel more important.

    You know these are “bad” behaviours, when you think about them, because you don’t admire other people for doing them yet you may find yourself doing them every now and then.

  • Can you see now that regardless of our own justifications and circumstances, we may not be all that “good” when we sit back and reflect on our own behaviour? This is probably why we can be the most critical about ourselves as our behaviours sometimes can seem so “bad” that we don’t even like ourselves anymore.

    One way to relieve our pain for seeing ourselves as “bad” is to come up with justifications why we did what we did. If we didn’t think an action we were doing was “bad” somehow, we wouldn’t feel the need to justify our actions to others.

    I suspect that a justification we use to explain our behaviour is often simply a survival mechanism to make us feel less “bad” about ourselves, as to keep us going and surviving, we somehow have the necessity to be right and good.

    I have found a very simple way to detect whether someone has a serious self-acceptance issue. Simply observe how a person justifies themselves for anything. The more a person needs to justify themselves to others, the lower the self-acceptance this person may have. Bear in mind that we all justify ourselves to others to some degree, but if we are compelled to justify ourselves all the time, we may have a serious self-acceptance issue that can severely hold back our wealth creation efforts.

    For example, when someone is invited to a function that they don’t feel like going to, you will usually see two types of responses:

    1. 1. A person with reasonable self-acceptance will give a simple answer like “Thanks for the invitation but I don’t feel like going at the moment”. They will feel no need to add any further justification for “not going” and will be quite content with that short answer.

    2. 2. A person with a few more issues about self-acceptance will tend to give two types of answers.

      The first type is a very indefinite answer like “let me think about it or let me talk to my partner” to try to lessen the pain of being “bad” (i.e. saying “no” to the invitation) on the spot.

      The second type is a very lengthy answer in an attempt to divert the pain such as “I would come, but I already have another appointment at that time with Joe Blow and that was booked 2 weeks ago. If you don’t believe me, you can ask Joe. He would be so mad with me if I tried to cancel his appointment to attend your function, and he has been very good to me all these years. Trust me, I have tried everything to see if there is a way to make it work, but unfortunately it won’t work with such short notice. Can you make sure that you give me more notice next time? I will definitely come, the last thing I want is to upset you. Blah, Blah!”

      You can clearly sense here that all this person cares about is that you still think he is “good” after he says “no” to you. In fact his “No” answer is forced upon him by Joe actually being a good guy, and his failed effort on the short notice you gave him is a way of saying he cannot be blamed or held accountable for his “No” to you.

      Wow, what an inefficient and irresponsible way of saying “No”! ☺ Can you see why low self-acceptance people can rarely be efficient or responsible?

      So you can predict with a high level of accuracy that when someone always tries to explain themselves for everything they do, or they can’t give you a straight answer such as “YES” or “NO” but always have to give you a “MAYBE LATER” type answer, they may have a self-acceptance issue.

    3. Here is a simple question: Do you think a “bad” person deserves a “good” fortune?

      If not, how are we going to have “good” stuff happen in our lives, such as financial abundance and good relationships, if we somehow believe that we are so “bad”? Remember we have the power to sabotage anything if we don’t think we are worthy of having it.

      So the dilemma most people face in the wealth creation industry is how we can justify in our mind that we, as a “bad” person, deserve any substantial wealth. This is why low self-acceptance can wipe out even the best investment strategies.

      If you are like most people, and think you are somewhat “bad” but still want to deserve “good” stuff, there are a couple of logical ways to handle this:

      Accept that you are “bad”, and start believing that “bad” people deserve “good” things to compensate them.

      The logic behind this is that there is no such thing as good without bad. You can’t have all the “bad” stuff without also being given some “good” stuff.

      If you follow this logic, the more good stuff (e.g. financial wealth) you get, the more “bad” stuff you need to bring upon yourself to balance it out.

      This seems to be a painful way of creating wealth, even if it works, one can become one of the unhappy rich.

      Another way to improve our self-acceptance is to separate the “bad” stuff from who we truly are. We can think that deep down we are all much the same, and that our life challenges and upbringing may have polluted us and therefore pulled a false veneer over us. But if we strip off this false veneer, underneath we are all good and deserve good things to happen in our lives despite the apparent flaws seen in our veneer.

      It is almost like saying to ourselves “no matter what I have done or not done, I am basically a good person and always deserving”. This is not to say that we can then take no responsibility for our irrational behaviour, and do whatever we like to see if we can get away with the consequences.

      Taking responsibility for our own actions and believing that we are basically good are independent of each other. One may or may not have the awareness or know-how to improve their behaviour or habits, but it does not change the fact that he or she is still basically good.

      I believe this is a less painful way to improve our self-acceptance that most people can work with.

      You can see that I am leaning towards the second option, but I have found that it needs some practice to make it work.

      You can start by observing someone you don’t like or don’t get along with that well, and start observing them. Try to separate the actual person from their behaviour. Practice seeing the good spirit inside of that person behind their apparent ‘not so likable’ veneer. Suddenly you will find something likable about that person. Even scarier is that you will find that they are not dissimilar to you, despite you thinking you are very different from them.

      In other words, whenever you are listening or talking to another person, practice by imagining there is two of the same person in front of you: one is the actual being and true spirit of that person, the other is a polluted veneer you see on the outside.

      You may wonder why we should start by observing others first. It is often much easier for us to see other people’s faults than our own! ☺ As long as you keep reminding yourself at the same time that what we don’t like about others is usually what we don’t like about ourselves! (i.e. others are merely a mirror to show us our own flaws.)

      The reverse is also true. Until we start seeing the good in others, we will be blind to seeing the good in ourselves just the same. So practising seeing the real person inside of their veneer is one of the fastest ways to improve our own self-acceptance, hence our own self-worth.

      Now instead of listening to me waffling, I would like you to test the idea and see if it works for you. Just pick 5 people you know that you dislike or have an issue with. Now see if you can see the real person, separated from their “bad” veneer the next time you deal with them. You need to ignore their apparent irritating veneer, and keep your focus on the person inside and try to understand them as if you are in their position with their capacity and upbringing.

      To help you better understand other people who are very “different” from you, you might need to put yourself in their shoes. In that I mean everything from their childhood environment, family upbringing, current financial position, current health condition, past relationship experience, and even what they are hoping for in the future. By doing this you may start to see that what they are doing may not be very different from what you would be doing if you were in their shoes.

      This is probably why Abraham Lincoln says: “Don’t criticise others; they’re just what we would be under similar circumstances.”

      Why should you be bothered to develop the capacity to accept people you don’t like? This is because you can’t really accept yourself until you accept others, as what you don’t accept about others, you don’t accept about yourself.

      Think of a person that you have been upset about recently. Let’s say you would describe your friend Joe Bloke as a very selfish person and his selfishness irritates the hell out of you at times. If you apply your description of Joe to yourself and ask yourself in what areas of your life you are being very selfish at times, you’ll be “pleasantly” surprised that you have the same issues as Joe! ☺ In fact you are upset about him because you see yourself in the mirror through him.

      A very powerful exercise you can do is to try this with your spouse or parent. You will find that whatever you dislike about them, you tend to have the exact same issues. The only way you can improve your own self-acceptance is to learn to accept them (by seeing the actual person inside of their polluted veneer).

      Here is what could happen after some regular practice. You might actually start to see some of the following benefits:

      1. 1. You will start to find good in these 5 people that you have never seen before even though it has always been there;

        2. You will feel much better about yourself and appreciate yourself more;

        3. You will become more efficient and outcome driven and spend less time explaining yourself or “bribing” other people to like you;

        4. You will take more responsibility for your own environment and hold other people more accountable for their commitments to you;

        5.The more you practise this, the more you will accept yourself and the better your financial position may become! (Just remember it may briefly get worse, as you are getting out of the confusion you had, before it starts getting better. Just keep going until you see things changing for you!)

      2. Good practising and until next month, happy investing.

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