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Acceptance of Feelings Creates Self-Acceptance

When we learn how to practice coming home to the body, especially when feeling overwhelmed by too much to do, traumatic life events, or by strong emotions, we develop loving self-care, self-compassion, self-empowerment, self-efficacy, self-valuing, resilience, and an increased sense of aliveness.

In learning how to practice being fully awake and present in the body, all of life’s difficult challenges can be managed without feeling overwhelmed. Even the most traumatic life events are usually manageable as long as we are willing and able to be fully present with our inner subjective experience of the moment, including the fear, the pain, and the resistance.

For the most part, what gets in the way of being able to emotionally deal with our most difficult life challenges is our resistance to what we are feeling. Being human includes the use of distraction, dissociation and other tactics to avoid experiencing frightening and painful life events. It is only natural to want to try all sorts of ways to avoid feeling certain emotional pain, physical pain, extreme fear, as well as other difficult emotions. However, keep in mind that: Resistance Breeds Persistence.

Every time we feel hurt, sad, angry, frustrated, or any other unpleasant feeling, we have an opportunity to build stress-resilience by courageously coming home to the body and embracing what we feel.

The path to self-compassion is to honor our most painful feelings and to allow ourselves to go through them instead of going around them using any of the myriad forms of distraction or dissociation.

There is a misconception that being open and vulnerable means being weak. In reality, the strongest, bravest, most stress-resilient people are those who courageously allow themselves to be open and vulnerable. They allow themselves to feel hurt, angry, sad, frustrated, and all the other unpleasant feelings. They make no attempts to cover-up their vulnerability or their feelings.


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I co-teach a course at College of Marin in Kentfield, California; Mindfulness-Based Self-Compassion (MBSC). For those who do not live geographically close enough to attend the class, this page can serve as a guide:

Acceptance of Feelings Creates Self-Acceptance

Dr. Larry Berkelhammer

Dr. Berkelhammer is a retired mind-body medicine psychologist. He writes about mindfulness-based practices with a unique emphasis on optimization of wellbeing and health. Dr. Berkelhammer also lectures at San Francisco State University and UC San Francisco, and is currently teaching a class in Marin County through College of Marin. He is the author of the book "In Your Own Hands; New Hope for People with Chronic Medical Conditions".

See his extensive website:

In Your Own Hands: Mindfulness-Based Practices to Optimize Wellbeing - College of Marin Community Education

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APA Reference
Berkelhammer, D. (2018). Acceptance of Feelings Creates Self-Acceptance. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 11, 2020, from


Last updated: 20 Feb 2018
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