Unconditional self-acceptance

In Guest Blog by Elena Langtry

John Perry is a Principal Teaching Fellow in Healthcare Communication at the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Southampton. He is also a qualified Counsellor, Coach, Therapeutic Coach, Human Givens Psychotherapist, Reality Therapist, Hypnotherapist and Supervisor; and has a particular interest in Psychological Resilience and in challenging the Myth of Perfectionism.

John has developed a self-acceptance visualisation for when you feel unsure about certain aspects of life, and are struggling with perfectionism. Feel free to tailor the visualisation to what feels relevant to you.


In my experience as a university lecturer, pastoral tutor and counsellor, the single biggest cause of distress amongst young people in Higher Education has been a huge increase in the number of students who subscribe to the myth of perfectionism – young people feeling that they are inadequate or worse, that they are devoid of any value – unless they are perfect.

I have written the following as a ‘guided visualisation’ for young people – but that is valuable to people of all ages – to challenge the myth of perfectionism and to encourage ‘unconditional self-acceptance’, which is the core of positive mental health:

First, close your eyes and picture yourself as a new born infant, lying in a cot.

And as you look at yourself as a new-born child lying contentedly in your cot, get a really strong sense that you are fundamentally OK…

That you are fine, just as you are… that you are totally unique and that this uniqueness gives you innate worth and value…

And sense also, that you don’t need to come top in your exams (or at work) in order to be OK… you just are OK…

And that you don’t need to be selected as captain of the first team (or take part in a team at all) in order to be OK… you just are OK…

And you don’t need to be a size zero or to have a super-toned body and a six-pack in order to be OK… you just are OK…

That you were born OK…

You were born worthwhile… you were born with innate worth and value…

And that these are not qualities that you have to earn… they are qualities that you are born with… and since no-one will ever perform surgery on you to take these qualities away, they are qualities you will carry with you always… regardless of how you perform in exams or how many friends you have on Facebook…

You will always be a work-in-progress, never the finished article – since that would require that no further improvement were possible, and there will always be room for improvement… self-improvement is a journey, not a destination and you will therefore never be perfect… but you will always be fundamentally OK, fundamentally worthwhile; you will always have innate worth and value…

And be aware also, that since all of us are always works in progress, never the finished article, our imperfections add value, they do not take it away. If every person were perfect, then every individual would be replaceable by anybody else… but we are not…. our imperfections are what make us indispensable… irreplaceable. For we are all imperfect in our own ways…no one is universally gifted… our imperfections are what make us unique… Just as in a mosaic, every piece of stone is imperfect…incomplete… and yet each piece is the only piece that can make its unique contribution to the whole… As the far from ‘perfect’ Leonard Cohen once wrote:

‘There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.’

So celebrate your imperfections, accept yourself unconditionally as a work in progress, yet always, fundamentally worthwhile, fundamentally OK, and absolutely fine, just as you are.

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic over on Twitter @RachelKellyNet

“My grace is sufficient for thee; my strength is made perfect in weakness”



“My grace is sufficient for thee; my strength is made perfect in weakness”