Self acceptance is loving yourself entirely. That is, taking the good with the bad. It is unconditionally embracing who you are. But the words, entirely and unconditionally are where most people get hung up. We can mostly love ourselves with no problem. And loving yourself with conditions, like when you feel successful and great about you, that’s simple. The challenge is to love yourself for who you are, no matter what. Unfortunately, most people struggle with true self acceptance. Read on for some keys to self acceptance.
The difference between self esteem and self acceptance
Many people think self esteem and self acceptance are one and the same. While they do go hand-in-hand in some ways, it is important to understand the difference.
Self esteem involves having confidence in your own abilities. It refers to how you feel about yourself and your accomplishments. Self esteem tends to change with circumstances. For example, receiving recognition at work, good health and fitness, and a happy marriage contribute to positive self esteem. Conversely, losing your job, being overweight, and a messy divorce negatively impact self esteem.
On the other hand, self acceptance is about unconditionally embracing who you are, without qualifications, conditions, or exceptions. It is having an awareness of your strengths and weaknesses and choosing to accept all of it. When we are truly self-accepting, we’re able to embrace all aspects of ourselves as part of who we are.
Don’t misunderstand. Of course there are parts of yourself that you’d like to change. Self acceptance does not say that you should just learn to love those parts. Of course, you should work to overcome bad habits or shortcomings in yourself, and loving yourself through the process will likely bring better results and a stronger sense of well-being.
Keys to Self Acceptance
Discover who you are
If you don’t really know who this ‘self’ is that you’re supposed to accept, then how can you actually do it? The first step is acknowledging that you simply don’t know much about yourself. You may have difficulty answering specific questions about who you are or what you really want out of life.
Happiness expert Robert Holden put it this way: “Self-acceptance is an invitation to stop trying to change yourself into the person you wish to be, long enough to find out who you really are.
Getting to know who you are and becoming friends with her is a move in the right direction. This includes the part of you that is more than just your name, your story, and your failures and successes. Begin to see yourself as more than just the sum of your experiences. Strive to see past how you perceive other people see you, your profession, or your social status.
Stop Beating Yourself Up
People with low self acceptance are often perfectionists. Sadly, constantly seeking perfection in everything is a recipe for failure. A perfectionist will beat herself up for every misstep. She doesn’t hold others to these strict, no-failure high standards, yet she harshly criticizes herself for each perceived failure or underachievement. Give a girl a break! No one can live up to the expectations that we often set for ourselves.
Practice Positive Self Talk
The messages that go through your mind every day have a direct impact on your self image. Constantly worrying about what others would say or listening to a cacophony of negative self-talk throughout the day will leave you feeling dejected and worthless.
It’s important to take every thought captive. Stop the litany of self-deprecation and make a conscious effort to stop putting yourself down. Instead, strive to compliment yourself on successes, no matter how small. You may even want to make a list of 5 things you did well or are proud of each day. As you gradually move towards the goal of eliminating negative self-talk, your self acceptance, energy level, and well being will increase.
No matter the task or skill, there is always going to be someone better than you. In some cases, comparing yourself to another person may actually push you become better, and that is fine. But more often, the comparison game leaves us feeling jealous and insecure. Once again, instead of focusing on what you are not, focus on the positives.
Intentional Quiet Time
The only way to truly get to know someone is by spending time with them. There is no difference for learning to know your true self. Mindfulness and awareness practices give us the time and space to learn ourselves on an intimate level. A study about the relationship between mindfulness and self acceptance revealed a direct correlation between the two.
Spending time in meditation trains you to quiet the voices in your head and helps you to connect with the spiritual part of yourself. As you become more insightful and reflective through meditation, your awareness of unwholesome self-judgments will increase so that you can take steps to consciously make changes.
As you start to learn more about your authentic self, you will gradually move towards accepting her and loving her, imperfections and all. And truly loving her and accepting her leads to contentment.
What helps you to love and accept yourself? Comment below.
Looking for a meditation to help you slow down and become more mindful? Check out this post about Yoga Nidra.
Learning the Art of Saying No will also help you in your journey of being true to your authentic self.