'Self-acceptance is an individual's satisfaction or happiness with oneself' (Shepard). It is fundamental and foundational to mental and emotional wellbeing. It is a continuous journey and involves self-understanding and self-awareness of your strengths and weaknesses.
It means being able to see and assess yourself without going to the extremes of glossing over your lesser qualities and mistakes or only focusing on them and missing the learning. It means being able to look in the mirror and say, I love and accept me and I realise that I am the only person with the power to change me.
Interestingly, it is easier and perhaps essential to accept yourself before you can change.
They say the inner voice is a composite of what others said to us when we were young - mum, dad and other key people we listened to or allowed inside our heads.
If you want to boost your self-acceptance, take these six steps.
Like any process of change, it begins with a decision. Decide you want to accept yourself and move towards it daily by reducing the areas of non-self-acceptance and increasing the areas of self-acceptance.
1. Know and Celebrate your strengths. We all have them. And we all have unique talents and qualities that others don't have.
If you do not know what they are (I am often surprised at how few people do know them) ask others. Write them down. Look at them a few days later. Think of projects or groups you were involved in. What did you do to help others or get the job done? Think of some of the challenges you have overcome, goals you have achieved and people you have helped. Review and fine-tune it regularly.
2. Don't over focus on your faults. We are often more aware of our weaknesses. When we look at them too much it is easy to feel demoralised and awaken feelings of guilt and shame for being too this or that. Interestingly, the parts of your brain responsible for growth and learning shut down when feeling guilt or shame. So, we miss the lesson when too focussed on these factors and even condemn ourselves to repeating the mistakes we so want to avoid.
3. Look at Your Environment and how you are spending your time and with whom. Are you surrounding yourself with people and engaging in activities that reinforce your negative self-talk? Does watching television or browsing the internet reinforce your positive or negative view of yourself? Time is the most important asset we have. Use yours to develop a positive, real and grounded view of you. Spend time with people that encourage you to grow and improve yourself - to be and do better.
4. Forgive Yourself. We all make mistakes - daily. Sometimes it is because we do nothing. Others it is because we make a lesser or the wrong choice. Reflect on what happened, learn the lesson, take responsibility, take corrective action if appropriate and MOVE ON. We cannot change the past. When we know better, we do better.
5. Be Kind to Yourself: Silence the inner-critic. Your inner dialogue and voice should be kind and constructive. If you spoke to others the way you speak to yourself would you have any friends? Think positively. Think about solutions and moving forward.
6. Accept and start from where you are now. Many of our problems regarding self-acceptance come from us not accepting the consequences of past choices, or lamenting non-achievement of past dreams and goals. Be the person you want to be starting now!
Make the best of now for a better tomorrow.