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Self-acceptance

Self-acceptance is crucial for happiness, performance and to achieve your goals. You cannot develop your current skills or acquire new skills if you do not accept yourself. So it is important to attend to self-acceptance. Let us start the journey…

Definition

Self-acceptance can be defined as: the awareness of one’s strengths and weaknesses, the realistic (yet subjective) appraisal of one’s talents, capabilities, and general worth, and, feelings of satisfaction with one’s self despite deficiencies and regardless of past behaviours and choices. (en.wikipedia.org)

Self-acceptance: “You accept that, as a fallible human being, you are less than perfect. You will often perform well, but you will also err at times… You always and unconditionally accept yourself without judgment” Grieger, 2013.

Advice on self-acceptance

You work so hard to fix yourself, but maybe what you need isn’t another tactic, another book, another expert, another five-step plan. Maybe, you don’t need to be fixed. Maybe, what’s really holding you back is the idea that you need to be fixed. Really, maybe you just need to let yourself play instead of always making yourself do homework.” Vironika Tugaleva The Art of Talking to Yourself

Vironika also says:

“There is no greater suffering than constantly measuring yourself and coming up short, except perhaps the realization that your suffering is hurting others. But where do we learn these things? Because, really, they are learned.

AND

We don’t come crying out of the womb because of our birth weight or because we have no money in this brand new world. We learn to measure and we learn to attach our self-worth to those measurements.”  Vironika Tugaleva

In practice
Arlo Laibowitz has suggested 12 clear steps to being able to truly accept ourselves:

1. Become self-aware and set an intention.

Recognize your thoughts, feelings and pain, welcome them, and separate yourself from them. Then set the intention that you’re willing to accept yourself in all aspects.

2. Celebrate your strengths and accept your weaknesses.

Thinking about your strengths, ask yourself a few key questions: what are the traits that always earn you compliments? What areas of work do you excel at? What are your unique talents? Making a list of your strengths and past achievements and re-reading them when you are having an off moment is a great way to practise self-acceptance.

3. Consider the people around you.

In recognizing positive and negative reinforcement, and practicing your sense of shared humanity, for instance, through loving-kindness meditation.

4. Create a support system.

Surround yourself with people that accept you and believe in you – and avoid those that don’t. Indeed, quality relationships are key to happiness and acceptance of self. Robert Waldinger measured happiness levels in people from Boston’s poorest neighbourhoods. The most joyful were those with high-quality social connections.

5. Forgive yourself.

This can be a tough one to conquer, but learning to move on from past regrets and accepting that you were the best possible you at that moment is a key step to self-acceptance. Indeed, even if we’ve become pretty good about being able to forgive others, self-forgiveness seems to be much more difficult.

6. Realize that acceptance is not resignation.

Acceptance is letting go of the past and things we cannot control. You can then focus on what you can control, and empower yourself further.

You can succeed with these steps by using a personal coach

7. Quiet your inner critic.

And stop rating yourself against others. Theodore Roosevelt once said, “comparison is the thief of joy,” and today this rings truer than ever. One way is to try to avoid scrolling endlessly through social media channels and comparing your life to that of others. 

8. Grieve the loss of unrealised dreams.

Perhaps you’ve found yourself in a job you don’t enjoy, an area you never wanted to live in, or single when you’ve always dreamed of being settled with a partner. Whatever it is, we often wonder what dreams are worth holding onto and whether, in fact, it’s time to just let go. Reconcile who you are with the ideal image of your youth or younger self and grab hold of what’s coming next. 

9. Perform charitable acts.

Give to others through volunteering and recognize how you can help and make a difference in others’ lives. The benefits of kindness are scientifically proven and both mental and physical.

10. Speak to your highest self.

The inner voice that has compassion, empathy, and love, to others, and to yourself.

11. Be kind to yourself.

Cultivate self-compassion, in not judging yourself, or over-identifying with self-defeating thoughts or behaviour. Take care of your mind and body.

12. Keep believing in yourself.

Use positive self-talk and practice PERT: Positive Emotion Refocusing Technique when times are tough. The path to self-acceptance can be rough and bumpy. There will be times that current external circumstances, past experiences, and our programming make it hard or impossible to accept ourselves.

Conclusion

It is possible to learn to love the image in the mirror! Do not wait any second longer!

Quotes

“I have always been better at caring for and looking after others than I have been at caring for myself. But in these later years, I have made progress.  Carl Rogers at age 75 (Rogers, 1995, p. 80)

“When we accept ourselves for what we are, we decrease our hunger for power or the acceptance of others because our self-intimacy reinforces our inner sense of security. We are no longer preoccupied with being powerful or popular.

and

We no longer fear criticism because we accept the reality of our human limitations. Once integrated, we are less often plagued with the desire to please others because simply being true to ourselves brings lasting peace. We are grateful for life and we deeply appreciate and love ourselves.” Brennan Manning

“What self-acceptance does is open up more possibilities of succeeding because you aren’t fighting yourself along the way.” Shannon Ables

“You’re always with yourself, so you might as well enjoy the company.” Diane Von Furstenberg

In the words of psychologist Tara Brach: “Imperfection is not our personal problem – it is a natural part of existing. The boundary to what we can accept is the boundary to our freedom.”

“You’re already stuck with yourself for a lifetime. Why not improve this relationship?” Vironika Tugaleva

Accepting ourselves unconditionally is difficult because we must give up the fantasy that if we punish ourselves enough with negative thoughts, we’ll change. It’s as if we think we can whip ourselves into shape by saying things like: I’m weak for feeling any anxiety. Barbara Markway Ph.D

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