When you accept yourself – with all of your flaws and unique talents – the world seems to become a more accommodating place. You’ll find that some of the causes of your stress disappear and you can gain more joy – dare I say thrive? – on a daily basis by learning to accept yourself.
Accepting yourself completely entails courage, wisdom and compassion. If you’re plagued by negative emotions such as anxiety, jealousy, shame, anger, envy, or guilt, these may be signs of low self-esteem. To counter this, you can learn radical self-acceptance and in the process, find ways to not just live…but to thrive!
If you find yourself equating your worth with your achievements, love life or social status, what happens if these are someday diminished? After all, achievements may come and go, social status can change with time and circumstances, and is perhaps best seen as a temporary condition. Life has its ups and downs. Practicing self-acceptance will help prevent your self-worth from hinging on your current situation.
How Giving In to Low Self-Esteem Can Hinder Self-Acceptance
If you have low self-esteem, you can get “stuck” by your refusal to accept your own uniqueness and your capability for transformation. If you are a perfectionist and things don’t go well, you may tell yourself that you’re not good enough. Even if you’re not a perfectionist, being overly hard on yourself becomes a vicious cycle of negative self-fulfilling prophecies.
So what can you do to turn this around?
Suppose you start to appreciate the world around you. Then you can become more aware of your place in the world. You realize that just as others are important to your well-being, your existence supports others, too. Since appreciation is a prerequisite for self-esteem, you’re now well on your way to self-acceptance.
How to Develop and Increase Your Level of Self-Acceptance
To develop self-acceptance, you must believe in your intrinsic worth and uniqueness. There’s no one else in the world quite like you and you’re constantly changing and developing as you move through this world. Your value cannot be measured by how others perceive you.
You’re also aware of the fallibility of human nature. No one is perfect. Even enlightened souls such as Christ and The Buddha had to struggle to achieve their goals. Likewise, you must also work to improve yourself. Let this work, your dedication to it, and the results you achieve in the form of increased strength, higher self-esteem and self-confidence be your joy.
When you make a mistake, refrain from judging yourself. Resist labeling yourself as a failure or a bad person because of past errors. You wouldn’t label your child (or ANY child) a failure or a loser because he or she failed a test. Be compassionate with yourself too, and don’t label yourself in a negative manner.
Accept Your Mistakes, but Don’t Dwell on Them
When you review your mistakes, you may feel remorse and disappointment, but these are healthy reactions. They’ll help you to change your behavior to something you like better.
Remorse and disappointment are different from self-condemnation, which can lead to depression, guilt and shame. The key is to avoid getting stuck in those unhealthy emotions, which may cause you to give up or avoid facing your mistakes in the future. Instead, look toward what you can do to change your actions, and therefore change the outcome next time.
Try one or more of these strategies to increase your self-acceptance:
- Avoid excusing yourself from your mistakes. It’s okay to tell yourself that you’re human and prone to error, but if you use this kind of statement or principle to refuse to face your mistakes, you won’t grow. Instead, work on improving yourself. This will help you accept what you did but put it in the past and move on.
- Use ONLY positive self-talk. Refrain from calling yourself names like “idiot,” “total failure” or “loser.” Get in the habit of complimenting yourself for the progress you make and the things you do correctly instead. Reinforce the qualities about you that you like by telling yourself things like “I can do this,” “I’m good at this,” “Forgiving others is perfectly like me,” or “I can find a solution to this challenge.”
- Be tolerant and compassionate with yourself, just as you are with your friends. Judge your behavior, not yourself.
Following these guidelines will help you gain greater self-acceptance. It may take some practice to master these new ways of thinking about yourself, but the rewards will be worth it. Remembe that we function with the principle that it takes 21 to 28 days to create a new habit, and work to create a habit of self-acceptance. Soon you’ll be enjoying life more and find it more fulfilling than you ever imagined!