Self-acceptance and self-love is a lifelong pursuit. While most people consider self-acceptance to be the same thing as self-esteem, the two are very different. While self-esteem is a determination of how we value ourselves, self-acceptance highlights our ability to embrace every aspect of ourselves.
Understanding How to Accept Yourself
As accepting yourself means accepting the good with the bad, this can be an incredibly challenging process. Learning how to accept yourself must start with identifying what parts of yourself you’ve yet to accept.
When identifying how to improve this area of your life, you must start by learning what shaped your acceptance of yourself initially. This acceptance is first determined by how we feel accepted by those closest to us. If you’ve grown up struggling with an inability to accept yourself, it is likely that this began in childhood.
While this mindset is initially difficult to move past, it’s important to realize that your childhood no longer needs to shape the way you live your life today. Additionally, as adults, the actions we take (and don’t take), can shape the way we think about yourselves. We all make mistakes in life. While it may be difficult to accept these mistakes when we make them, we have to learn to take the good with the bad and use them to become stronger versions of ourselves.
Learning How to Accept Yourself
Our whole lives are spent getting to know more about ourselves. Learning how to start accepting yourself must start with you understanding that you don’t need to earn validation—you are already deserving of it simply by existing. Additionally, you must learn to accept your mistakes as you make them and know that every good and bad thing is simply a part of life.
Consider the following self-acceptance exercises:
1. Practice Relaxed Awareness
Relaxed awareness is a form of mindfulness. Instead of giving into constant distraction or actively focusing on certain things, practicing realized awareness encourages us to give into our own existence, becoming aware of how we think and feel in the moment. Complete this exercise by closing your eyes and welcoming whatever emotions or thoughts that come to mind. It’s okay if some of these are negative, letting them flow in as they come is exactly what it means to practice relaxed awareness.
2. Welcome Your Feelings
During this process, and throughout the rest of your life, feelings will come and go. While many people think living a life of positivity means canceling out any negative self-judgments or thoughts, this isn’t accurate. Failing to listen to your inner truth is an act of suppression—while you may think you are choosing positivity over negativity, you are only avoiding your true feelings.
Running from this truth only leads to more pain. This creates more negativity and discomfort that you’ll experience for a longer period of time. Instead of avoiding these things, try to find the good in them and be at peace with how you feel.
3. Let Go of Self-Rating
After spending time being more aware of what you think and feel, you’ll also notice the tendency to rate yourself. Regardless of what we’ve done in life, we often get into the habit of rating ourselves as “bad” or “good”. When positive things happen for you, you may attribute this success to the fact that you’re a good person. If you make a mistake or hurt someone else, you may mentally refer to yourself as a “bad” person.
Wherever you find yourself in this self-rating process, you must realize that this exercise is futile. Self-rating only hinders the acceptance of your actions. As mistakes are part of life, making mistakes doesn’t make you “bad”—it means you’re human. Life is a process of reinvention .
4. Practice Gratitude
As you continue to work on how you accept yourself, you should practice being grateful. These gratitude sessions allow you to reflect on the good things in life and help you see how blessed you are. When things don’t go your way, there are still lessons that can be learned. Our imperfections make us who we are, so be grateful for everything that shapes you into the person you are.
5. Exercise Forgiveness and Compassion
So often we learn that we should practice compassion and forgiveness with other people, but fail to realize how important it is to do for ourselves. A huge part of learning to accept every single thing about who you are is learning how to forgive yourself. Regardless of what pain you may have caused yourself or others, you are still deserving of compassion and forgiveness.
Learn to understand the meaning behind your actions and determine why it is you did what you did. Once you’ve done this, it’s time to accept that you’re human and that you can move past this and become the best version of yourself.
Accept Yourself…and Go From There
As you continue to practice self-acceptance exercises, keep in mind that there’s no wrong or right way to learn how to love yourself. Let this guide inspire you to find new and effective ways to accept every facet of who you are. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you’d like to learn more about living a fulfilling life.