Ways to Start Accepting Yourself
The truth is, all of us have something to offer this massive, unique, diverse world. However, it can be hard to realize your full potential if you are unable to accept yourself for who you are. It is important to note, self-acceptance is about accepting all facets of yourself, even the less desirable aspects. Self-acceptance is not about changing yourself to a more ideal version. It is about loving and embracing who you are right now and every moment there after. Often, we are our own harshest critic, making it difficult to readjust the ways we perceive ourselves. Below, we will discuss some ways to start accepting yourself, as well as how therapy may help you along the journey. Self-acceptance may not be easy, but it is crucial in order to live the most empowering, happy, free, fulfilling life possible.
Get in Touch With Who You Are
First and foremost, acknowledge your reality. Even if your reality is disappointing at the moment, it is important to stop ignoring your reality in hopes that it will eventually get better. Acknowledging reality will help you accept the things you cannot change and work with the things you have control over. To fully accept your reality, you must acknowledge the role you played in getting where you are, good and bad. Then, you can analyze what actions you have taken that have either fostered success or failure and adapt accordingly.
Unconditional Self Love
A huge part of learning to accept yourself is coming to terms with your mistakes, struggles, and biases. While it is also important to take the time to learn and appreciate your strengths, it is often your mistakes and weaknesses that truly hold you back from accepting yourself. The guilt and shame you hold onto from making mistakes hinders your ability to practice self-love. It is important to give yourself the same compassion and understanding as you would someone else.
If you wish to move forward, you must learn to forgive yourself for the mistakes you have made in the past. Instead of looking at your mistakes as failures, try to shift your perspective and view them as learning experiences. Tell yourself, “I did the best I could with the information I had,” or, “the decision / action seems wrong now in hindsight, but at the time it felt like the best decision”. Accepting your mistakes does not mean you no longer think they are wrong. Rather, it means you are willing to face your mistakes, make meaningful action to prevent them from happening again, and let the regret or shame go.
Next, you must work to let go of your biases. Don’t get caught up in what you expected your life to be or the reality you think you’re supposed to be living. Perhaps you feel disappointed in where you are because your biases tell you that you are not successful enough. Again, focus instead on accepting your current reality and the steps you can take to get where you want to go. We all have biases, but ignoring them won’t make them disappear. Instead, you must learn to recognize and understand your biases, then make a conscious effort to let them go. Our biases are often ingrained in us due to societal expectations, but remember your job is not to live up to anyone else’s expectations of you.
Accept that struggling will always be a part of life. We all have areas of weakness or times where we struggle. This is what makes us human! Learning to accept yourself does not mean you will no longer struggle. It means you will love yourself despite your struggles. Do not shy away from challenges in fear. Learn to confront them head on. You may make mistakes or fail. Remember to look at these trials as learning experiences and opportunities for growth.
To accept yourself, it is important to be completely honest about who you are and the reality you are living in. Radical honesty takes practice, but will help you immensely as you continue to work on self-acceptance throughout your entire life. Not only will radical honesty help you with your relationship to yourself, it will also foster love, connection, and understanding in your other relationships.
Self Acceptance vs. Self-Improvement
As we mentioned before, self-acceptance is not the same as self-improvement. Self-improvement is a deeply embedded American trait, sometimes to a detriment. There is constant societal messaging that we can always make ourselves better. While in theory this is a wonderful thought, in actuality it impedes self-acceptance and creates a perpetual cycle of dissatisfaction. You must be able to accept yourself as you are before you can make any meaningful changes. It seems the messaging is often backwards. Many people believe that after they successfully make all the self-improvement changes they want, they will finally be able to accept themselves. This is a dangerous way to view yourself because you will always be chasing the next best improvement without ever truly accepting who you are. Ultimately, self-acceptance is the foundation that must be strongly built before you can start adding self-improvement projects to your plate.
How Therapy May Help
Self-acceptance is not necessarily an easy journey. It will take time, practice, and dedication. Therapy may provide further guidance and support for those struggling with self-acceptance. Cognitive behavioral therapy can help you define the negative thinking patterns that have made it difficult to practice self-acceptance in the past, and provide you with the tools to develop greater self-compassion. Additionally, the trance-like state achieved through hypnotherapy is believed to help people disconnect from negative emotions, thus allowing for a trained professional to more effectively provide self-acceptance training. Chriselda Santos, licensed psychotherapist and certified life coach, specializes in matters of self-esteem, including self-acceptance. Through providing multiple different therapy techniques, Chriselda is dedicated to finding the best solution for each client. She believes in focusing on your strengths and capabilities to help build inner resilience and self-love. For more information about Chriselda’s different therapy techniques, or to book an appointment, visit her website.