The Art of Self-Acceptance
Accepting Yourself Changes Everything
As a coach, I feel so honored that people are willing to share their life’s biggest dreams and biggest struggles with me. One of the most difficult struggles that my clients face is their inability to accept themselves for who they right now. Most people have conditional self-acceptance.
If I’m being TOTALLY honest, I struggle with it too.
Conditional self-acceptance sounds like this.
I’LL BE OKAY WHEN…(I lose the weight, find the partner, build the career, conquer this anxiety, etc.)
Full self-acceptance sounds like:
I’M OKAY…(With the way my body, with my being single, with my current situation, etc) This doesn’t mean that everything is perfect or exactly as you want it. It means that in this moment, as you are, you can accept yourself and your situation. Your self-worth is not based on any of those things.
Why It’s Important
It’s important to accept yourself because that one move can mean the difference between a life of peace and ease, or a life of constant searching for others to tell you you’re okay. When you accept yourself, you’re freed up to accomplish more in your life.
Self-acceptance is your foundation. After you accept yourself, you can continue to build from there creating more confidence, tranquility, enthusiasm, drive and happiness coming from a place of a desire to grow as opposed to building your self-esteem.
The good news is that, even if you’re someone who struggles with acceptance, (& trust me you are not alone, I’ve been there too!) there are practices you can begin to start leaning in that direction.
Imagine the world you could create with a mindset of I accept myself vs. I’d be okay if I could change myself to fit the world view of what I should be like.
How to Begin
If you’re reading this, it usually means that you’re interested in this practice. On your journey of acceptance there will be many methods and tips that you’ll and you’ll find your own unique way of getting there.
A Few of My Favorite Strategies.
- Allow for mistakes. First let’s just accept that we’re human. That condition alone means that you’re going to make mistakes. Sometimes you may try too hard to be perfect, and this in itself is a mistake. It’s a mistake pileup on the 405! (A joke for the population reading this from Los Angeles) You’re going to make mistakes big and small in life. They will be some of your greatest lessons. They won’t be pain-free but they will be gifts if you allow them to be.
- Live in the present. You may be having a hard time accepting yourself because of the stories and interpretations you’ve made about your past. Here’s the deal you can’t do anything to change your past EXCEPT to learn from it and then change the story you’re telling yourself about it. You are not your past. The moment you can accept that is the moment your present and future are unlocked.
- Avoid comparing yourself to others. Self-esteem requires comparison to others. If we focus on trying to build our self-esteem vs our self-acceptance, you bet we’ll feel better about ourselves when others are doing poorly. But we’ll feel way worse when they’re not, (which is why social media is a self-esteem killer). Building our self-acceptance allows us to more easily accept others as they are too. Both their strengths and their weaknesses. It’s a win-win. We’re not depending on others to tell us we’re doing okay.
- Clarify your values Your values are the compass to our life experience. When you don’t take the time to clarify them you begin living the values of others. Your family, communities, schools, work, media, advertisers, etc. You can create an incredible amount of dissatisfaction in your life because you’re not in alignment with who YOU want to be on this earth. Which. makes self-acceptance almost impossible.
- Become clear of the standards you’ve created for acceptance. In the absence of full self-acceptance we create conditional self-acceptance with standards that must be met. How you look, your clothes, your home, the car you drive, your job, your friends, how many people like your posts. It’s never ending. With true self-acceptance if all these things were to fall away you know you would still be okay. Oof, my friend that is some deep stuff. Imagine how freeing that would be!
- Observe the gremlins in your head Recognize that you are NOT your thoughts. You are the observer of your thoughts. A mindfulness or meditative practice can be so helpful to help you begin tuning into the subconscious stream of thoughts (our gremlins) running in the background. Let’s be real, many of us have let an abuser into our mind. You may never be able to get them out completely, but you certainly don’t need to invite them in and have them stay for dinner. After all they’re terrible conversationalists.
- Become a Better Friend to Yourself. This may be the most important and helpful of all. Begin talking to yourself as if you were a good friend. Self-compassion is a precursor to self-acceptance. If this is challenging talk kindly to yourself in the third person. Imagine what you would say to a friend in a similar situation, or to a small child. It can be wildly uncomfortable at first, but that’s only because you’ve been in an abusive relationship with yourself for most of your life.
If you’ve struggled with self-acceptance there will be some thought patterns that need to be broken. It won’t happen overnight, but with a willingness and a practice you truly can begin to love and accept yourself exactly as you are, right now.