When many people hear the word spiritual or spirituality, or any word associated with religion or spiritual terminology they immediately assume that the underlying idea or rationale behind it is that of becoming a good or a better person than they were before.

To many if not most people, this is not a very attractive option for a number of reasons, most typically because they fear it involves giving up on a number of behaviours or goals in life that they believe are important to them, and they do not believe would be compatible with being a better or good person.

This belief is unfortunately often deepened by the attitude of a number of religious leaders in the world, who see a sense of virtue in classifying the world as good or bad, cowboys and indians, and essentially telling people that they need to be on the good side.

Whilst there may be many definitions of spirituality, perhaps the most defining element of it is an acceptance of one's own humanity. That may sound a bit of a pompous statement, but it essentially means that an acceptance of you are as a person, unconditionally, is a key element of one's own spirituality whatever that may be, or whatever road it may take you down. It actually has nothing to do with being a better or a good person, whatever that may be.

There may be many reasons for this misconception, but one common starting point is that of the term and the nature of unconditional love. Unconditional love means unconditional. It is often painted as a bit of a dream for human beings to attain unconditional love of other people, but it rarely is talked about in terms of unconditional love of self.

Self love is regarded as either something that is slightly self indulgent, or a chronic form of self obsession that is damaging to the person and everyone else around them. Perhaps one of the best examples of this is people who are in recovery from alcoholism and other addictions.

The process of recovery in Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12-step fellowships, is essentially based on the principle of unconditional love, which is at the heart of people getting sober and staying sober. Also helping other alcoholics who are still drinking to come to terms with the fact that they have a problem and helping them to do something about it.

Self-acceptance is really the same thing in many ways as that of an unconditional love of self. It is one of those experiences in life that is difficult to put into words, but it is an experience that you know you have had when you have had it. Quite often it comes from other people loving you unconditionally, often in a very simple way, or in some daily transaction with people in your life.

It does not have to be a maker romantic life drama in order to experience someone else's unconditional love of you as a person. At its heart, is an acceptance of a person as they are, not as you would like them to be, or as you think they should be. This tendency or need to try and fix other people to make them as you think they ought to be is perhaps at the root of most human problems in life.

Spirituality should be a freedom as a journey or a process, that people are free to explore and interpret and make sense of in whatever way works for them. This is true of one's own journey in life, and should be true therefore for other people as well. The essential underlying ingredient of this is an unconditional love or acceptance of self as you are, not as you think you ought to be. If this applies to you, it also applies to other people!

Author's Bio: 

Peter Main is a freelance journalist and copywriter who writes extensively about all areas of self growth and self development. He has a particular focus on self help issues for people who are in recovery from or who have been affected by alcoholism and other addictions.Some people begin their journey of recovery and healing in a rehab, others in a twelve step fellowship such as Alcoholics Anonymous, others in a religious or spiritual setting. He has worked in this field for just under thirty years and has extensive experience in many areas of different therapeutic approaches, including counselling, inner child work,meditation, spirituality, adult children work etc