Most of us struggle with self-acceptance, at least every once in a while, and in some extreme cases, most of the time. Making peace and accepting yourself for who you are and how you are can improve your life in different ways. In this article, I will explain why it is important to accept yourself, and also point out different ways in which this can be achieved.
Why is accepting yourself unconditionally important?
Self-acceptance is tied directly to our self-esteem, our motivation, and our perception of every area of life.
As Anaïs Nin famously wrote; we do not see the world as it is, but as we are.
If one spends time hating themselves, then it is expected that their life loses a bit of color, energy, and taste.
Practices that make it harder to accept yourself
What are some of the things that you do, that makes it harder to accept yourself, and ultimately harder to love yourself?
Comparing yourself to others
- But John is 6’12” and I’m only 5’0” 🙁
- But Mary is so pretty and looks good in everything that she wears and I don’t 🙁
- I’m not as good at football like John 🙁
- Why can’t I dance as well as Mary? 🙁
If you compare yourself unfavorably to others, especially without the aim to improve yourself, then maybe it makes it a little harder to accept yourself as you are.
Statements like these can only make you feel worse about yourself.
And besides, no one can ever win the comparison-with-others game, not even John or Mary. There will always be millions superior or inferior to you in some aspects.
Dwelling on believed personal deficits
Often, the times we struggle with self-acceptance are when our perceived short-comings are highlighted. And this will happen quite often in the course of your life.
If you were to spend time focusing on these incidences and paint over it will a lot of negative energy and emotion in your mind, then it can impact your self-acceptance quite severely.
Lacking goals in life
If you do not have short-term and long-term goals, you may lack a reason to motivate yourself and feel like your life lacks purpose.
Having goals will give you energy, a reason to wake up every morning. Watching yourself get closer to your goals will definitely make it easier to accept and love yourself.
Carrying too much responsibility, pressure and/or expectations
While having aims can be a good thing, they can have a negative effect if you feel like you have the weight of the world on your shoulders.
This can make you feel like you are destined to fail; like you are not good enough to satisfy everyone in your life. And how can you be at peace and accept yourself if you are going to be a failure and let everyone down?
Self-acceptance vs self-improvement.
It is possible to think that accepting yourself contradicts the very concept of working on yourself and making yourself better.
But this is not true.
Accepting yourself means being consciously aware of yourself; your limits, your deficits and knowing and accepting that they are an important part of the definition of you as a person.
It is only after you acknowledge the weaknesses that you can work on them and improve them.
- I am not as physically strong as I wish to be, so I will start a workout routine.
- I am easy to anger, I need to start work on my temperament.
Notice how different this is from;
- I am not physically strong, this is how the creator wanted me to be, so everyone must take me the way I am or leave me.
- I am easy to anger, everyone needs not to piss me off.
Accepting yourself can set the foundation to build a greater version of you. It does not mean settling on your current state, but being at peace with how you are now.
Self-acceptance and happiness.
Is it possible to be happy without accepting yourself?
Is it even possible to love yourself without appreciating your different strengths and weakness?
These questions would definitely make nice topics for a debate, and there would be a lot of arguments for and against both.
But, one thing for sure, the possibility for you to be truly happy increases with self-acceptance. The more you accept yourself, the more likely you are to be happy.
In other words, one of the foundations of happiness is self-acceptance.
Self-acceptance and loving yourself.
One of the most common ideas about love is that to be able to love another, you must be able to love yourself first. Loving yourself is not optional. It is the solid foundation on which you will build all your other relationships.
It is easier to accept and love yourself when you are doing well; when you accomplish a goal. But what about during the low tides of underachievement? What impact does it have on your important relationships?
One of the more important aspects of self-acceptance is that it needs unconditional love for self. But since you cannot start at the top, you can take small steps on your way there. Take small baby steps towards where you need to be. And celebrate progress with each step.
Even if you fail or make a mistake, you are still you. You still need to love yourself. Accepting yourself unconditionally will make loving yourself so much easier.
Tips you can practice to help make accepting yourself easier.
Please understand that these tips are not quick fixes to help you feel better about yourself immediately after you read them. You have to practice for some time and make them a normal part of you for them to be effective.
Put first things first. You need to allocate the most of your time and other resources to your most important activities and relationships. Make a plan on how you intend to spend your time. Prioritize your activities. Put the most important and urgent activities first. This will leave you with a feeling of satisfaction and achievement. Ultimately, it will raise your self-esteem.
Be grateful. Be thankful for everything and everyone you have in your life. You have heard it a million times and it is still true; yes, millions in the world do not have what you have.
Focus on your strengths. When you think of yourself, the picture that comes into your head needs to consist of your strong points and not your weaknesses. See yourself through a positive filter.
Set clear goals. There are few things that can make you feel better about your life each moment than having a purpose driven life. If every second of your life is spent planning, working and progressing towards some specifically defined goal(s), then accepting and loving yourself will not be a problem.
Do not compare yourself to others. While comparing yourself with others can be a source of motivation to improve, it can also hurt your confidence and self-acceptance if done for the wrong reasons, and in the wrong manner. I personally think it is best to avoid it and focus on your own personal goals.
Learn from your mistakes. Instead of beating yourself up over past failures, use them as lessons taken from life to build a better you. You have to make mistakes to learn, that is part of life. Accept that perfect is an unattainable ideal, and embrace mistakes as chances to create a better version of yourself.
Celebrate your milestones and achievements, even the small ones. Any success you get in your life is a result of you being yourself; working hard, being at the right place at the right time or even just by surrounding yourself with the right people. You should take a moment to consciously acknowledge each achievement and milestone and congratulate yourself for it appropriately.
Have fun. Take a break from working towards your goals, from the hustle and bustle of life, and do something you like. You are like a motor engine, you need some time to cool down to be able to function properly in the long-term.
Accept your life and your situation, and try to better it. Many people tend to complain a lot about life. They feel it is so unfair to them, that they’re carrying a heavier load than everyone else.
It is important to know that the only thing that counts is what you do with what you have. Accept and make the best of your situation.
Your body is your own, accept it, love it, improve it where possible. Our physique is most often the subject of most of our negative feelings about ourselves because it is one of the more rigid parts of us.
You need to accept your body as it is today, then maybe, if you find it necessary, take some steps to better it. These could be:
Invest some time and resources into grooming yourself.
Hit the gym.
Find the best dress code for your body type.
Find the best hairdo for your face, head and hair type.
Do some good for others. One of the best feelings is knowing that you are of some positive value to the universe. Nothing beats helping fellow human beings at generating this feeling.
It is no wonder that most successful people participate heavily in charity.
Accepting your sexuality. You need to know that no one can ever understand your better you understand yourself. Irrespective of the views of those around you or society, you need to be true to yourself. In different parts of the world, people face different obstacles, like legal or religious resistance to expressing their sexuality. If you are faced with these, it is very important to be prudent as you accept and express your sexuality.
Seek professional help. It is always an option to see a professional when you feel that things are getting out of hand. A trained one who has spent their life helping people out of negativity into self-acceptance can help you.
Quotes on accepting yourself
Here are some nice quotes that relate to accepting yourself:
- “There is you and you. This is a relationship. This is the most important relationship.” – Nayyirah Waheed – Salt.
“You have peace when you make it with yourself.“- Mitch Albom, The Five People You Meet in Heaven“.
- “Often, it’s not about becoming a new person, but becoming the person you were meant to be, and already are, but don’t know how to be.” – Heath L. Buckmaster, Box of Hair: A Fairy Tale
- “Friendship with oneself is all-important because without it one cannot be friends with anyone else in the world.” – Eleanor Roosevelt; Former United States First Lady, Diplomat and Human Rights Activist.
- “Because one believes in oneself, one doesn’t try to convince others. If one is content with oneself, one doesn’t need others’ approval. Because one accepts oneself, the whole world accepts him or her.” – Lao Tzu
- “You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” – Anonymous (This quote, is commonly attributed to Buddha, but several scholars and followers have rejected it as a blatant lie.)