Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Atkinson, Brent J.

Degree Name

M.S. (Master of Science)

Legacy Department

Department of Human and Family Resources


Self-actualization (Psychology); Life


Various therapists, philosophers and theologians have asserted that, in order for individuals to be fully satisfied with life, and effective in promoting changes in themselves, their circumstances and others, they must first experience the ability to accept themselves, their circumstances and others the way they are. A paradoxical effect is found: The more an individual Is able to accept unpleasant or disappointing aspects of life, the more one is able to enjoy and change life. This study was a qualitative investigation of the experience which individuals define as acceptance and the process by which they come to the experience of acceptance. Utilizing various concepts of acceptance from differing fields of study, a definition was developed distinguishing it from models of coping or resignation. Connections of this definition to the First Step of Alcoholics Anonymous origins were recognized. In-depth interviews with ten respondents were conducted using a story illustrating the concept of acceptance as defined by the interviewer, and several follow-up questions. Interviews were recorded, transcribed and analyzed, using commonly accepted methods of qualitative inquiry. Three ways of applying acceptance are discussed, i.e., acceptance of a difficult situation, acceptance of others and acceptance of self. Among the most interesting findings of this study were the following observations: (a) Although most of the respondents seemed to refer to a common experience which they called acceptance, they applied it to life in different ways, (b) Respondents had different ideas regarding how individuals acquire the experience of acceptance, (c) Ways to facilitate the experience of acceptance were identified.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [96]-97)


105 pages




Northern Illinois University

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