Self-Acceptance: How to Accept Yourself for who you are and Be Happy
How to accept yourself is one of the most important things you must learn in life! The fact that perhaps your parents or colleagues did not admit you, as you are since childhood, criticized you or compared you with other people, may be the ‘hidden’ causes that you cannot accept yourself either. However, this is a situation that you should not learn to live in.
To change the important thing is that you say to yourself out loud: “I am going to accept myself as I am, to admit what I think, my appearance, intelligence, opinions and feelings.” The idea is to become your friend, affirms Alejandro Celis, psychologist and professor at the School of Psychology of the University of Chile
“We cannot change anything until we accept it. Criticism does not liberate, it oppresses”. Carl Gustav Jung. (Swiss psychiatrist, founder of Analytical Psychology)
Self-acceptance and its meaning:
Self-acceptance can be defined as the awareness of one’s strengths and weaknesses, the realistic appraisal of one’s talents, competencies, and worth, and, feelings of satisfaction with one’s self despite deficiencies and regardless of past behaviors and choices. Wikipedia
Accepting yourself means recognizing on a personal level that you are the person you are, accepting the reality of your body and your mind.
Almost all aspects of our life are related to our level of self-esteem and therefore, self-acceptance. However, despite its importance, we often have a wrong concept of what this word means.
Accepting you does not necessarily mean that:
You must approve what you accept: Accepting yourself is recognizing and experiencing your reality as it is, without judgment. This does not mean that, for example, if you are a disorganized person you approve of your current form of behavior, once you have accepted your situation it is possible to assess whether your actions are correct or not. Accepting your current disorganization is what allows you to be aware that you are doing well and what you could improve.
Do not mind changing or improving: Accepting yourself does not imply compliance with your actions. Ironically, it is impossible to change or improve something that you do not accept because you are expelling it from your consciousness. It is as if you create a mental barrier to protect yourself from a part of your mind that you do not want to face. As long as you do not accept this part of yourself, it is not possible to change it. If you are overweight but banish the idea that it could be negative for your health, you will never make the decision to lose weight.
Situations that show you are not accepting yourself:
- “No way, that’s how I am and I can’t do anything about it, this is my destiny.” This is resigning.
- “That’s how I am and whoever loves me well and whoever doesn’t, is their problem.” This attitude may reflect rebellion, anger, or pride, but not acceptance.
- “Poor me, I was not lucky enough to be born with the necessary qualities to be successful in life” These words indicate a victim position.
- “I could not have avoided the problem or my behavior, because this is my way of being” That is irresponsibility.
Self-acceptance does not mean accepting who you are without doing anything about it. In fact, it is the other way around.
To change, improve or manage what causes you problems, the first thing you have to do is self-acknowledge and accept it, but without creating a relationship of enmity with yourself.
Accepting myself is to stop fighting with myself and with life, luck, God, destiny, my ancestors, etc., for being who I am.
That is to say, with tranquility and satisfaction, but without making a value judgment:
“My body, my feelings, thoughts, desires, behaviors, habits, etc., are part of me, regardless of whether I like some of them and others not.”
“They are part of me, but they are not me”
“This is my reality”
What it is?
It is the ability to see and recognize things as they are, at this moment. Self-acceptance refers to any aspect related to the human being: his age, his state of health, his physical and psychological characteristics, etc.
If they like your characteristics or not, if your family and friends approve or reject them, they are subjective behaviors and judgments that have nothing to do with reality.
They have to do with their own experiences, with the feelings and thoughts associated with what they have lived and with what they have learned in the social group in which they are.
Self-acceptance requires that you know yourself well enough to be aware of what aspects of your personality you are denying. The best way to increase your self-knowledge is to continually ask yourself about the cause of your thoughts, emotions, and actions. Faced with any sign of internal incongruity, dissatisfaction, or concern, don’t miss the opportunity to learn a valuable lesson about yourself.
Why do we start Rejecting Ourselves?
Parents often tend to:
- Scold children when they act badly, devaluing them, without realizing that they are doing it.
- Compare them to other children, who are apparently better.
- Set difficult goals to achieve.
- Give them little recognition for what they do well, especially if they are activities or behaviors considered as unimportant, get angry with children if they are not like them or how they would have liked to be etc.
Regardless of the way in which parents address them directly or talk about them with other people when any of the aforementioned situations occur, children feel criticized and rejected by their own parents.
This is how the little ones conclude that if their parents reject them, they must reject themselves as well. Later, society establishes levels of perfection in almost all areas of life, as a goal to be admired and accepted in different social groups.
Levels that we do not question and that no one can reach even in a single area, much less in several. They are unattainable because the human being is imperfect by nature. But if we do not accept that imperfection, we spend our lives trying to achieve an unattainable ideal and devaluing ourselves for not achieving it.
Why is it important to accept myself?
Because when we don’t and we compare ourselves, criticize, belittle, insult, and/or are unhappy about what we don’t have, we constantly increase our suffering.
We are born in a world that molds us with the reference of our peers, essentially adopting the attitudes that characterize us, which thanks to the experience obtained through what society has considered as correct, we take many patterns and habits that we make our own self.
Over the years we walk, dress, talk and behave as our parents or teachers and professors have adapted us to get along with others.
Sometimes I wonder, is this our true essence as a human being? Is this what our insides really need?
Accepting ourselves as we are is never easy, especially if we are aware of the things we do not like about ourselves. The truth is that we all strive to achieve ideals that are often unrealistic and only make life bitter, instead of letting us enjoy it.
Do you feel identified with this situation?
If the answer is yes, you must be aware of how important it is to learn to accept yourself as you are, without worrying about meeting the expectations of others rather than looking for your own happiness. The important thing is to know ourselves and recognize the patterns of life.
1. We all have a negative side: Absolutely all people try to hide aspects that they do not like about their body or even their way of being. You shouldn’t feel alone in this or scared. The only thing you have to understand is that there are things about yourself that you can improve and if not, then you can learn to live with them, instead of allowing them to become an obstacle for you.
2. Be your own Boss: You don’t have to please anyone. Have you ever thought about why you want to change? Do you want to be liked by someone you like or with whom you intend to make friends, even when they constantly ask you to change? People who are really worth it will accept you unconditionally. Think carefully about it before becoming someone you are not, to satisfy someone else’s needs.
3. You also have virtues apart from defects: When you focus too long on the things you don’t like about yourself, you miss out on all the wonderful things you have to offer. When was the last time you thought of them? Why not spend your time highlighting them instead of hiding what makes you complex? Doing so will make you feel much better about yourself.
How to accept yourself?
If we take the previous concept and contrast it with the question of who am I? You will understand that as people we can change many things that we do but there will not be enough ‘alternatives’ of how to be so that you only resign yourself to being who you are; That is why accepting yourself is the key, it is the best door to a better future.
Do you think that you do not appreciate yourself? Analyze what you really don’t like, all of you or just one aspect of you?
You will surely end up choosing the second option as an answer. This is when you should put that aspect with the rest of your characteristics and only then can you understand that really “the problem” is not as big as you think.
Denying your emotions, your thoughts or your actions is equivalent to telling yourself that your real personality is not valid and it leads you to create a false image of yourself. Until you accept that facet of yourself that you are banishing from your consciousness you will not be able to change or improve it.
The 3 Levels of Acceptance:
Self-acceptance is divided into 3 levels. For me, these levels go from the most intimate part of your self-esteem to the most external, like the layers of an onion. If you don’t accept yourself at level 1, this will affect your acceptance at levels 2 and 3.
Level 1 – The Essence of Self-Esteem
At the first level, we find the deepest quality of self-esteem. It is the basic belief that you are worthy to exist and that you have the right as a human being to live a dignified and happy life.
Just because you exist, as a human being, you have the right to have desires and try to satisfy them, have emotions and express them, to live, love and learn.
The person who does not accept himself at this level will be in constant inner struggle and will tend to sabotage his own successes, deny his achievements and flee from his positive feelings since deep down he feels that he does not deserve them, that they are due to chance or that they are a mistake. If you don’t accept yourself, you can’t have healthy self-esteem.
Level 2 – Accept your Personality
The second level consists of accepting the manifestation of your personality, accepting your thoughts, your emotions and your behavior, your actions and allowing yourself to experience it without blocks.
Sometimes it is difficult to accept certain traits of our personality or our physique when we dislike them and do not want to focus on them.
Do you behave coldly with other people? Are you shy? Do you care little for the people around you? Are you think you can’t trust other people? Do you take risks without assessing the consequences? Are you feel very insecure in new situations? Are you disorganized? Do you think that your current job does not contribute anything to society?
We tend to unconsciously deny our negative emotions, our unwanted thoughts, and the decisions we regret. Accepting them does not mean that we have to approve of them, but rather that we allow ourselves to recognize and experience them naturally.
Level 3 – Be your own friend
Imagine that you have just seen the new Ferrari that your boss has bought and you are dying of envy inside. Luckily you are aware of your envy and allow yourself to fully experience it.
Level 3 consists of treating you as a good friend would. What would a good friend do to see your envy in front of your boss’s car? Your friend would tell you that it is not bad to feel that way and would ask you why you are envious. Maybe your income does not allow you to live as you would like? Maybe you would like to be a successful and popular person?
Being your own friend implies analyzing and understanding the causes and consequences of your behavior, the origin of your emotions and thoughts, being understanding your mistakes and encouraging yourself to improve your weak points.
It’s not about resigning yourself and settling for who you are. But accept that at this moment you are a certain way and commit to change, knowing that improvements take time.
What can you do to accept yourself?
Regardless of what we have experienced during childhood or adolescence, when we reach adulthood, accepting myself as I become a personal choice.
The first step to achieve this is to recognize what we like and what we do not like about ourselves and consider them as characteristics and learned behaviors that can be changed if we do not like them or if they are affecting us. Therefore, we must stop scolding, criticizing, devaluing, comparing ourselves, etc., and focus well, on what we want and can do about it.
The Second, stop fighting with ourselves for being like that, seeing what we do not like, as behaviors that we present and not as part of our being.
For this, it is important to learn to know ourselves, without being afraid of seeing ourselves. It is becoming aware and recognizing your behavior, habits, thoughts, feelings and personality type, without being afraid to see yourself.
We suggest that you do the following exercise:
- Make a list of all, all of your relationships.
- Use one sheet for each of them.
- One for each of your friends.
- One for each of your family members.
And so on for each of the people with whom you interact at work, in your personal activities, in those related to health, etc.
On each of the sheets write as a title the name of the person with whom you relate and write how you behave with them when you are happy, angry, sad, when you are in a hurry, when they are alone, with other people, etc.
You can do it on different days, but once you finish one sheet, put it aside and don’t take it out again until you finish all of them.
Then, take the sheets again and one by one, ask each person to describe you as widely as possible, both the positive and the negative.
If they find it difficult, make a list with all the characteristics that you can think of, positive and negative, with three columns, to mark a lot, little or nothing and ask them to fill them in according to what they think of you.
To the people that you cannot ask to describe you, you answer, as if they were what they were answering.
Once you have all the sheets, review the results and draw your conclusions.
You will most likely find that:
- You will find descriptions that are opposite to each other. Which means that people’s perception and opinion is subjective. It is based more on what is important to them than on what you do or say.
- You behave differently, with different people. Therefore, the behavior of people cannot be generalized. Saying I am angry is a mistake because not with all people or at all times I get angry.
- If your behaviors vary according to the person, the moment or the occasion, then we are not talking about your essence as a person, but about habits, thoughts, feelings, etc., and that can be substituted by others. Therefore you can accept yourself as a person, without qualifying yourself in your being, in your essence and qualify those characteristics that you learned, that you do not like and that you can eliminate or modify.
Then you need to understand this and simply not auto judge. Therefore be flexible with yourself, love yourself and be your best friend.
Your flaws don’t define you. You have to accept that because of your human condition, imperfection is part of your life since your heart went boom-boom for the first time. Give yourself a caress remembering how special you truly are. Exercise your self-love, accepting your imperfections and strengths.
Now I ask that you take a minute to think about something that you do like about yourself. Think of the last person who praised you for something or made you feel special. That feeling that you now have is what you must maintain day after day.
Remember that the opinion with the most value about you is your own, that is why you must accept yourself, fall in love with yourself.
You might also be interested in What is Self-Discovery: Begin Your Journey of Self Discovery.
Helpful exercises for Self-acceptance:
Write on a piece of paper and please read it daily:
- I love and accept myself.
- I am at peace with myself because I am great and good.
- Feel safe being me.
- I am free to be myself and let others be who they are.
I love you just the way you are because I am sure that you are really special and I understand your inner search. Moreover, I tell you that you are strong and capable of achieving anything you set your mind to; you just need determination, focus and a freshly served rate of reality, especially if you are the dreamy type like me.
Do not forget that you must always be the most important person in your life, without the ego supplanting your true self.
Accepting yourself, in short, does not mean continuing in ignorance, poverty, or fat, it means ACCEPTING that the current situation is like this, that it cannot change overnight, and being grateful that you have many things before start chasing new ones. Now start accepting yourself.
Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change those I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
Can a person who struggles with his reality, who denies his emotions or his circumstances, trust and respect himself?
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