Mark Twain once said, “The worst loneliness is to not be comfortable with yourself.”
He couldn’t be more right. If you finally accept yourself and your vulnerabilities, your life will be much more liberating.
Self-acceptance means accepting your whole self without any kind of judgment. This includes your weaknesses and your quirky, difficult parts, the ones that you probably try to deny or suppress.
We frequently put ourselves down, feel critical of our body, or fear that other people will “find it out?” our reactions may be so automatic that we don’t even question them.
If instead you slow down a little bit and become aware of what’s happening in your mind, you can begin to ask important questions like these to yourself:
Is this a healthy/right way to relate to myself?
Will it lead to happiness or keep me in a cycle of distress?
Is this what I truly want?
Self-Acceptance Can Be Difficult ......
Here are few of those reasons why self-acceptance can be hard AND the antidotes you can practice to accept yourself more and more.
1. You think you’re at fault. You may blame yourself for something that happened in your life, especially events that may have happend in your early years. For example, you may believe you’re the cause of conflict in your parents’ relationship or even their divorce.
Remedial: Give the responsibility back.
2. You think you’re not worthy. You began to feel inadequate as a child and carried that belief into your adult life.
Remedial: Instead of focusing on your failings, start to believe in and accentuate your positives. Take time to learn to love you.
3. Have positive roles models. If one of your parents or primary caregivers didn’t accept themselves, you may be inadvertently modelling their behaviour instead of accepting yourself.
Remedial: Find positive roles models now, people who love, accept and care for them with confidence. Follow their lead.
4. Self-acceptance is not conditional. You believe you need to achieve something before you can fully accept yourself. You’re waiting to complete your education, earn a specific amount of money, or get a promotion at your job or it can be anything else on which you think your self acceptance is dependent.
Remedial: Take the conditions off and accept your whole self right now.
5. Do not try to live up to societal norms. There's so much pressure to live up to societal norms in families, at school, and in the marketing you see all around you. You may not accept who you are because you think you should be someone else all the time.
Remedial: Break them! Make new ones! Make your own!
6. Your social circle is not supportive. It’s difficult to feel good about yourself if your partner, friends, or employer are constantly putting you down. I know this one well. This actually eroded away your self-confidence. Sometimes, we unconsciously engage in relationships that reinforce our false beliefs about our self. Don’t blame yourself for this, it’s not intentional. But once you realize it, you can begin to make new choices.
Remedial: Surround yourself with people, who love, appreciate, and support you, one person at a time.
7. Childhood trauma. The experience of shock or developmental trauma can trigger shame or the mistaken belief that you were somehow responsible.
Remedial: Know this is a common reaction in trauma, but it doesn’t make it true. Find a trauma therapist/psychologist who can help you heal the trauma and transform these incorrect beliefs.
8. You feel there’s something wrong with you, even though you can’t put your finger on it.
Remedial: Learn yourself now in soothing, loving, and empowering ways. Be compassionate towards yourself.
9. Your inner critic constantly finds fault.
Remedial: Notice when the voice of your inner critic is speaking, and gently but consistently challenges her with a positive message. Be kind and compassionate towards yourself.
10. You feel you have unacceptable qualities, urgings, or dark secrets. You’re not alone, everyone does. So much healing can come when you embrace your shadow instead of setting it aside.
Remedial: Know that no one is perfect. We all are humane; gradually learn to have more humour and spaciousness when these difficult sides pop up.
Do any of these resonate for you?
In addition to the remedial above, I love to use this phrase from the tapping approach to expand my sense of self-acceptance:
Even though I _______________ (fill in the blank), I completely love and accept myself.
Here are some examples from my life:
Even though I’m a sensitive person, I completely love and accept myself.
Even though I have trouble sticking to my healthy diet, I completely love and accept myself.
Even though I’m sometimes overcritical, I completely love and accept myself.
Why not give it a try?
The ability to change your believe or reframe your negative self-talk depends upon noticing/acknowledging. Then apply this self-accepting phrase or another phrase, depending on the situation, right on the spot.
Cost You Pay When You Don't Accept Yourself?
Feeling bad about yourself comes at a great cost: Your happiness, your vitality, and your ability to achieve your mission in life, for a start.
Positive Repetition Is the Key
You can’t go from pushing away parts of yourself to accepting your whole self overnight.
It's not easy, but positive repetition will work over time. It will actually change your brain. Sometimes the harm and hurt is so deep it takes years, but you can still feel better as you incorporate more self-acceptance into your life. When these critical voices come up, you have to know with certainty that they are lies. Don't hesitate to seek the help of a therapist/professional if you feel you can't make these changes alone.
If you start on the path of self-acceptance now, I feel confident you’ll feel very different in a few years to come. And, you’ll also start feeling the benefit from day one. If you practice, through the power of repetition, you will change. You will grow in self-love, self-acceptance, and your ability to care for yourself.
Did any of the reasons above resonate for you? What's your secret to self-acceptance? I would love to hear.