BluesAintNothingBookCoverAt times our public image is our only source of self-esteem. No matter how bad we feel privately, we may be able to maintain an image that feels acceptable.

It’s no small task to manage the contradiction between a seemingly worthy public self and its often less valued, hidden underside. Qualities we’re determined to keep private may seem so appalling to us that they must be ignored, denied, or disowned. Relegating them to the shadows saves us from intolerable feelings of shame and guilt.

Some of these awful secrets are so threatening to our sense of what we’re worth that we may hide them from our own awareness as well. Unaware of our own undercover aspects, we may be the only ones we fool.

Worse yet, qualities that we try so hard to hide might actually turn out to be acceptable to others. Some people may love us without demanding that we be something other than what we are.

Self-acceptance is a form of self-improvement.