Casting aside our misgivings to discover our fullest Self
What is Self-Acceptance & why does it matter?
Self-Acceptance is that unique attribute that allows us to embrace and accept oneself warts and all. It is the act of recognizing one’s value beyond personal, physical and mental characteristics. The ability to unequivocally let go of criticism, negativity and disapproval. In its stead to affirm distinctive strengths and weaknesses.
Not surprising self – acceptance is a lifelong process that requires patience, persistence and compassion. Being aware of our thoughts, emotions and reflecting these in our behavior is an important first step in cultivating self-acceptance. Abandoning judgement and just leaning into ourselves leads us down a more balanced and empathetic path. Discovering a greater sense of self-worth and resilience so we can meet life’s challenges head on with greater confidence. Staying grounded and not rushing to judgement. Treating ourselves with compassion as we would someone dear to us, not being critical, demanding or rejecting parts of ourselves.
Yet, so many of us struggle with self – acceptance. That is, until we truly recognize that self- acceptance is unconditional. Once this lesson seeps into our inner psyche, we are liberated and set on a path of personal growth. As our emotional intelligence blooms, we begin to improve and build better habits.
As Robert Holden outlines in his book, Happiness Now,” Happiness & self-acceptance go hand in hand. In fact, your level of self – acceptance determines your level of happiness. The more self-acceptance you have, the more happiness you’ll allow yourself to accept, receive and enjoy. In other words, you enjoy as much happiness as you believe you’re worthy of”.
From birth, we are shaped and influenced by our family, caregivers and teachers. This determines how we fit in the world around us and soon we begin to judge ourselves. The subtle and insidious influence of life circumstances and relationships comes into play as the past forges the present. Lack of self –acceptance can affect our confidence, inhibit us from reaching our full potential and withhold our happiness.
Conversations around self-acceptance often get muddied when it gets mistaken for self – esteem. Often people use the terms interchangeably. Self – esteem comes from evaluating our strengths in comparison with different touchpoints like money, beauty, health, wellbeing, success, belief systems – the list can go on. Self – esteem is a narrow spectrum view point that makes failure hard to accept. Self-acceptance on the other hand is more holistic, organic and complex, encompassing every aspect of our personality. It extends beyond our earthly achievements and allows us to see ourselves for what we really are.
Reviewing our goals
True self – acceptance has to be cultivated consciously. Daily practice and self-care can help gradually increase the measure of self-acceptance.
· Practicing gratitude is a great first step. Writing down 3 – 5 things every day shifts the focus from negativity to positive reinforcement.
· Reframing negative thoughts and examining them further with a positive self-talk is taking this one step further. For example: “I am a good person, but I’m only human, so I sometimes make mistakes”.
· Choose your tribe. Pick your support system, who will prop you, be in your corner and help you seek the light.
· Regular meditation practice helps detach from negative self – talk. This elevates and improves our mood and the flow of positive emotions. The goal of meditation is to be aware of thoughts, observe them without identifying them.
· Be kind to yourself. Forgive yourself for past mistakes and missteps. Cast aside the regrets and see them as a step towards self – acceptance. Speak to yourself as you would to a friend.
To accept yourself is to step into your power. It is not an easy practice, but it is crucial for true and lasting happiness. Staying grounded in the present moment, developing a more tolerant and non-reactive attitude towards oneself is an essential process in the journey towards self-acceptance. Do you, my readers agree that emotional regulation, fostering positive relationships and staying grounded are all affirmative actions towards this goal? By practicing self-acceptance, can we cultivate a greater well-being and live a more fulfilling life? Is it a goal worth pursuing ?
We are stronger together