Self-acceptance means unconditionally loving and accepting yourself for who you are. It means acknowledging what makes you special and unique. You can celebrate your talents, but also accept your flaws and limitations.
People with high self-acceptance are happier and better able to deal with stress, heartache or disappointment. How can you learn to gain self-acceptance?
Understand your past
Did you know that before the age of eight, our self-acceptance came from our parents/caregivers? If your parents showed you that you were accepted and loved no matter what, then you viewed yourself more positively than other kids whose parents wouldn’t or couldn’t give them this assurance.
Sometimes, parents teach us that we’re only acceptable if we perform certain behaviours – if we’re smart enough, strong enough, good enough, loud enough, etc. This can internalise feelings of rejection and criticism. Understanding and acknowledging challenges to self-acceptance from your past is a step toward overcoming them.
Set your intention
Recognise the thoughts, feelings, and actions that prevent your self-acceptance. Acknowledge pain from the past and present that play into your low self-acceptance, but then put them aside. Remind yourself that how you feel isn’t a measure of what is true. Set an intention in your mind that you deserve to love and accept yourself, and that you’re awesome just the way you are.
Celebrate your awesomeness
Make a list of your past achievements and things that you’re good at. Did you win a spelling bee or a writing contest? Are you a star player on your sports team? Write it down! What positive qualities do you bring to a friendship or a family? If you can’t think of anything, ask your friends and family members to contribute their ideas.
Whenever you feel down or you’re obsessing over a failure, look at this list to remind yourself that you’re special.
Surround yourself with great people
Cultivate friendships and spend time with people who lift you up and accept you unconditionally. If your friends accept you, it can help you to accept yourself. Positive friendships are a key to happiness, according to scientific studies.
If someone tries to change who you are or criticizes you for things outside your control, they’re probably a negative influence on your life, and you’re better off without them.
Stop comparing yourself to others
It doesn’t matter what other people do or how they achieve. It only matters what you do. Refocus your energy from looking outward to looking inward – find joy in your own life. Stop looking at social media if it makes you feel bad. (Most people on social media only show a certain view of their life – it’s not reality at all).
This is the hardest thing to do, but accepting yourself means acknowledging you’re human, and you make mistakes. That’s okay, as long as you admit it was a mistake, and then move forward. Remind yourself that you made the decision you could at the time, and that you’re not the same person now.
Apologise to people you’ve hurt, including yourself. Try to learn from your mistakes so it doesn’t happen again. Mistakes are how we grow as people.
Are you practicing self-acceptance in your life? Do you find you feel happier when you accept yourself more? What are your top tips for self-acceptance?
According to educator Anjali Hazari, unrealistic parental pressure for a teen to succeed is the most common cause of stress among students.
Parents aren’t the only ones guilty of putting pressure on teens. You may experience pressure to succeed from teachers or faculty members. A friend may force you into a competition over grades or sports. Siblings may try to push you harder. It doesn’t matter who is applying the pressure, except that you want to make them happy, and your desire to please them is stressing you out.
If you’re feeling pressure from other people, and it’s impacting your life, there are a few techniques you can use to release the strain:
Realise it’s probably not about you
When people you care about put unrealistic expectations on you, it often has nothing to do with you at all and everything to do with something going on in your own life. Perhaps your dad feels as though he didn’t get opportunities in school and he doesn’t want you to make the same mistakes. Maybe your friend is struggling to please her own parents and so she competes with you as a way to make herself feel better. Your teacher or coach may be under pressure to lift grades or to look good in front of colleagues.
Knowing that something isn’t about you can make it easier to endure. However, that might not be enough to help you deal.
Confront them about their actions
The people who put pressure on your do it because they care about you. Sometimes they can’t see how their words and actions affect you – that’s why it’s important to tell them.
You don’t have to get into a screaming argument about it. Instead, take some time to carefully write down how their actions have impacted you. Try this formula, “When you do (action), it makes me feel (feeling).” For example, “When you get upset with me because I didn’t get an A, it makes me feel as if the only time I please you is when I make good grades.” Avoid absolutes – “You always do this!” because it deflects the conversation away from the point you’re trying to make.
If possible, present a plan of action for how to improve the relationship. Ask for what you need. Present it as a way to improve your performance. “What I really need is some quiet time for two hours in the evening to study. I’ll be working hard during that time. But outside of that, I’d like to relax and not think about schoolwork, so if would could avoid talking about exams over dinner, I’d really appreciate it.”
Impossible expectations and pressure can have a negative impact on your studies, sports, and social life – so find a way to manage the problem and help others to see how their behaviour might hurt you. You need to confront the problem or it will continue.
Research has shown that using affirmations to create positive thoughts about yourself can dramatically improve your body and mind. Here’s how to use affirmations in your life.
What are affirmations?
An affirmation is a positive statement you can repeat to yourself. By framing affirmations in the present tense, using positive words, and speaking as if the statement is a fact, you rewrite the language of your brain and adopt a positive outlook.
Affirmations can help you give up destructive behaviour, feel better about your life, find a way to deal with grief or loss, improve focus, and create healthy habits.
How to use affirmations
First, you need to find an affirmation that speaks to you. It needs to conform to the three key factors:
Then, you need to repeat this affirmation to yourself throughout the day. You might like to create a ritual of saying it to yourself every morning, or when you go to class. You could write it on the front page of your notebook or make it your phone’s screensaver. Some people like to combine touch with their affirmation – perhaps by tapping your hand, using EFT, or touching an area where you feel negative emotion.
Affirmations to try
Here are some affirmations you could try. You might also like to create your own based on the formula (present tense, positive words, stated as fact).
I am loving and loved.
It is easy for me to look in the mirror and say, “I love you.”
Today, I am overflowing with energy and joy.
I possess all the qualities I need to be successful.
I base my happiness on my own accomplishments and the blessings I’ve received.
I am courageous and I stand up for myself.
My efforts are supported by the universe.
My obstacles are moving out of my way.
My life is already a miracle of change and I’m shaping my destiny.
I love everything about my body.
My body is healthy and full of energy.
I find opportunities to be kind everywhere I look.
I am present in every moment.
People treat me with kindness and respect, because I deserve it.
I learn from my mistakes.
I never give up.
If you want the kind of deep, real friendships you read about in books or see on TV, then you’ve first got to learn how to be a good friend.
Be yourself. Don’t try to pretend to be someone you’re not just because you think that will help you make friends. When you’re pretending, you feel uncomfortable and you make others feel uncomfortable. Friends respond to your realness and seek your unique take on the world.
Make time. Friendships develop over time, and the best friends know their time is a gift that they give to special people. Make sure you include your friend in your plans and make time for them amongst your other activities.
Be honest. Friendship thrives on honesty and withers on lies. Friends speak the truth to each other, even when it’s hard. Friends keep promises – when you say you’re going to do something, do it.
Notice. Your friend might pretend everything is fine when it’s not. Notice their moods, their actions, when they lash out or shrink into themselves. Be brave enough to confront your friend or to find help for them, even if they can’t or won’t help themselves.
Be loyal. Sometimes, your friend will screw up. Loyalty doesn’t mean following your friend even when they’re making bad decisions. It means that you accept they’re human and make mistakes, and that you are willing to work through conflict and be there for them when they need you.
Lift them up. Be the person in your friend’s life who makes them burst with confidence and good vibes. Show them you think they’re special, encourage them to do better and to pursue opportunities, and make them laugh when they’re sad.
Respect boundaries. You don’t have to be with your friend or in contact 24/7. The quality of your friendship isn’t measured by how much time you spend together. Some people need more space than others to recharge, so make sure you’re giving your friend the space they need.
Keep in touch. The best friendships endure long after you leave school, even if you’re in different cities or timezones. The internet makes it easier than ever to keep in touch with your friends. Use the tools you have available to stay in touch even when you’re far away.
Being a good friend takes work – but the rewards are more than worth the effort. Do you think you’re a good friend? What can you do today to make your friend’s life better?