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?