Stepping into Self-Acceptance:
Self-acceptance can be a bit cliché and can be talked about without really having a full appreciation of how deep it runs, and the impact it has on each of us. Yet it is massively important for developing an overall positive sense of wellbeing. To explain it in simple terms self-acceptance is exactly what its name suggests: it is being in a state of complete acceptance of oneself.
True self-acceptance is having the capacity and willingness to embracing who you are, without any qualifications, conditions, or exceptions (Seltzer, 2008). To go a little deeper self-acceptance can be further described as “an individual’s acceptance of all of his/her attributes, positive or negative.” It includes body acceptance, emotional acceptance, self-protection from negative criticism, and believing in one’s capacities. Without ongoing self-acceptance, your overall sense of wellbeing can begin to suffer.
Self-acceptance can be described as an individual’s satisfaction or happiness with themselves and is thought to be necessary for good mental health. Self-awareness and self-understanding and a realistic, albeit subjective, awareness of one’s strengths and weaknesses influence our level of self-acceptance also (Shepard,1979).
To begin working on yourself, the first step is not just self-acceptance, but unconditional self-acceptance. So this is about accepting ourselves in good times and in more difficult times. Learning to be supportive and nurturing of ourselves, and not beating ourselves up when things don’t go as we wished. It’s relatively easy to accept ourselves when we just did something great—won an award, fell in love, or started a fantastic new job—but accepting ourselves at our lowest and when our faults and flaws are in plain view is the real mark of unconditional self-acceptance. But remember when you practice unconditional self-acceptance, you can begin to love yourself, embrace your authentic self, and work on improving your less-than-desirable traits and qualities.
So an important aspect of promoting your self-acceptance is to be proactive about nurturing your own practice of self-acceptance. Thinking about the different things you can do on a daily basis to promote your acceptance of yourself, to promote total acceptance of who you are today which will include owning all your strengths, weakness, blips, and your ups and downs. Remember no-one is perfect, we are all works-in-progress.
Some simple steps to support you in stepping into a practice of daily self-acceptance could include the following 5 simple steps:
- Create a positive self-acceptance mantra for yourself. Say it daily in the morning or evening or both.
- Each week identify a few things you can do for yourself. Ask yourself what you need, give yourself a treat, go for a relaxing walk, take a long calming bath, watch your favourite movie, do those things that resonate with you and nurture your soul.
- Identify one aspect of yourself you would like to address or improve, think about what you would like to be different or better (make sure you are being realistic) and think about what you can do to achieve this. Get support with this if it helps.
- Reflect on your day every day. Ask yourself what did I learn about myself today? What did I do well, what was a struggle and what can I take from those experiences?
- Always be forgiving of yourself, don’t beat yourself up. Tell yourself “you are doing your best, you are learning as you go, Life is a work in progress, when you know better you will do better”.
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