When I first started researching Self Acceptance, I thought it was going to be a pretty easy topic. I mean, it’s just accepting who you are, right? In fact it turns out there is alot more to self acceptance that I first anticipated. It’s related to self esteem, interlinked with self love and your overall happiness. Wow. Heavy stuff.
I think I’m quite accepting of myself now but I haven’t always felt that way. There have been times in my life I’ve felt like a complete failure, worthless and useless.
Like many of you, I’ve struggled with my mental health for years. I’m very lucky that I’m in a place now where I’ve learned my triggers, how to cope with them and have a fantastic support system around me. But at the height of my depression, my inability to accept myself was instrumental to how I felt.
Maybe you can relate.
For me, academic pressure in my youth from myself, school and family meant that when I didn’t achieve what I’d been predicted, it knocked my confidence.
I continued to struggle in college, dropping out in my second year after the sudden death of a close friend. And from then on it felt like my life took a downward spiral until my mid twenties. My mental health took a hit too and my happiness levels were rock bottom.
I felt like I was a failure. I believed I’d let everyone down. I told myself that because I hadn’t achieved, I never would.
It was this negative self talk which was so damaging to my ability to accept myself.
And I hear ya! I hear your reassurance that just because I failed at academic studies doesn’t me I’M a failure! So let’s work on helping you adopt a mindset of accepting yourself too!
Do You Want Increased Happiness?
First off, self acceptance is vital for self love & happiness. It is when we truly accept ourselves as we are, when that switch clicks in our mind, that we’re able to accept more happiness and self love into our lives. It can also lead to a sense of mental freedom, because the previous mindset of critiquing is no longer necessary.
But here are 5 of the best benefits accepting yourself will bring to your life.
Ps! You can pin this image for later too!
That all sounds great, I hear you say!
Of course, self acceptance is easy in theory, but trickier in practice. I think, for the most part, because we live in a world of comparisons and perfectionism. Social media obviously has a role in this; everything is much more accessible and in a higher volume than 20 years ago. The constant bombardment we face of perfect happiness can make accepting yourself as you are harder.
And here’s an important lesson:
Self acceptance doesn’t mean giving up on striving to improve yourself. It doesn’t mean abandoning pride you feel in your achievements or frustration at your failures.
It is simply an awareness of what makes you who you with, without judgment.
The Big Difference: Self Esteem or Self Acceptance?
Although related to each other and our wellbeing, self esteem (or self worth or value) requires us to judge ourselves as good or bad.
It’s the joy or pride someone feels from having ‘good looks’ or the disappointment and sadness at failing to achieve a goal.
And self esteem can be great! The difficultly comes when, instead of rating, praising or scolding a behaviour alone we apply the judgment to our whole selves.
Self Acceptance, however is a distant cousin to self esteem. An unconditionally feeling of understanding this is who you are, every part of you.
So they are not the same, but neither do they replace each other. A healthy mindset can encompass both. We can be proud of achievements and frustrated with our failures, but the key is separating those things from ourselves as a whole.
One bad action does not make you a bad person, despite what your current mindset may have you believe. Unlearning this mindset of scoring/rating your whole self, based on single behaviours or traits is the first step on the path to accepting yourself.
Celebrate your successes, learn from your failures, but don’t judge your whole self good or bad.
Let’s put theory into practice.
Try this visualisation exercise!
Imagine your mind is an office. You have your desk, chair and cup of coffee. On your desk is a mountain of paperwork, some relating to you, some relating to say… your partner/child/friend. Each piece of paper represents different elements of yourself; Good, bad, negative traits, behaviours, actions, past events – everything which makes you, you.
As you sort through the paperwork, you create a ‘You’ pile with every element that relates to you, without judgement. If it makes up who you are, it goes into the ‘you’ pile. This pile is then filed in a draw that makes up your ‘Self Acceptance’. Everything about yourself, everything that makes you who you are goes into this draw, without being labelled as good or bad.
Self Acceptance Doesn’t Mean Abandoning Self Improvement
You may be thinking that accepting yourself means giving up on your goals and self improvement or development.
You don’t need to worry, because it doesn’t! We should strive to constantly improve, learn and grow; to better ourselves. To reach a point in our lives of content happiness & relaxation.
Accepting yourself right now doesn’t prevent you from having personal goals for your growth and development. When we embrace self acceptance, we are changing our perspective of ourselves to an unconditional viewpoint.
When we grasp the idea of self acceptance, we are able acknowledge that we’re okay, right now.
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If you’re still struggling with the idea try this exercise.
Applying self acceptance to others.
Try only rating someone else’s behaviour, not the person as a whole.
Your partner leaves the front door unlocked all the time when they come home (guilty!). You think ‘He’s a terrible partner. He doesn’t care!’
Is he really? No, probably not. So let’s assess the behaviour instead ‘Leaving the door unlocked was really careless’.
– – – – – – – – – – –
Your friend forgot your birthday and your initial thought is ‘she’s such a useless, friend’. But think on this?
Maybe she’s helpful in other respects; an example of rating her behaviour instead would be ‘Forgetting my birthday was thoughtless’.
You’re not labelling them as a whole, but instead identifying the behaviours.
I talk about this technique in my article How To Cope With Temper Tantrums; that as parents, we need to separate the behaviour from the child.
It’s the behaviour that we are unhappy with, that we dislike. Not the child. We love the child without judgement, but as parents, we help them on their own journey of development. We try our best to teach them how to change negative behaviours – not to change themselves because of a behaviour.
MOVING FORWARD WITH SELF ACCEPTANCE
There’s so much available and accessible to support you in your search for self love, accepting yourself and finding true happiness in your lives! From podcasts, books and TED talks, I’ve listed some of my favourite ideas below!
How To Be an Imperfectionist
From the author of the best selling ‘Mini Habits: Smaller Habits, Bigger results’ comes a fantastic insight into why imperfection is the best medicine!
Good Vibes, Good Life
I’ve talked frequently about Vex King’s Book ‘How Self Love is the Key to Unlocking Your Greatness’ and with good reason! The reviews are fantastic and I absolutely love it. Vex King has a skill at articulating his message so that it’s relatable to everyone.
The 6 Minute Diary + Free Ebook
This fantastic journal is based on the positive psychology theory & feedback from 500,000 users! I love that its a quick thought provoking exercise each day to reflect, increased positivity and help support your self acceptance journey.
Grateful Heart Gratitude Journal
I’ve had a flick through this one and it is so much more than just gratitude journalling! Inside you’ll find journal prompts and space to write, colouring pages, mindfulness tips, self love quotes and monthly self reflections! I love it and it’s on my list! ( Though my planner list is about 20 planners long right now lol!)
The Calm And Mindful Notebook
Notebook, Priority lists, gratitude & self care! There’s so much in this little notebook to support you in journaling, self care & self acceptance! This 12 week journal is a great accompaniment or support if you’re just starting out or need a refresh!
Mind Cards From LSW London
Something else I’ve talked about before on here & social media are these fantastic mindfulness cards from LSW London! Purse friendly, they help provide mindful moments whenever you need them and cover different areas of self care, depending on what you’re looking for.
What I want you to remember as you go forward and start accepting yourself is that it is a lifelong process. It is not a tick box on your ‘to do list’. Self acceptance, as with self care & self love, will be something you need to continuously work on throughout your life.
However, I know now that you are more prepared than ever to embrace that!
Where are you on your Self Acceptance Journey? Let me know in the comments! And don’t forget to share this post on social media if you enjoyed it!