Self-acceptance can be difficult, especially when we compare ourselves to others. But knowing your strengths and being happy with your flaws has real benefits. Arlo Laibowitz answers the question 'what is self-acceptance?' and shares 12 tips to help develop your self-love. 

 

Self-acceptance, self-love and improvement. It sounds like a great idea to strengthen our skills and habits. But, in fact, it can have a negative impact on us if we're constantly asking ourselves what we should do or should be all the time.


Often, our inner critic makes a judgement that we're not good enough, and we don’t accept ourselves as we are at that moment. That can be a problem, because one of the most significant factors to be happy and to feel satisfied with life is self-acceptance.
 

OK, what is self-acceptance exactly?

Self-acceptance is:

  • The awareness of your strengths and weaknesses
  • The realistic appraisal of your talents, capabilities, and worth
  • The feeling of satisfaction with your self, despite flaws and regardless of past choices
     

Benefits of self-acceptance include:

  • Mood regulation
  • A decrease in depressive symptoms, the desire to be approved by others, fear of failure, and self-critique
  • An increase in positive emotions, sense of freedom, self-worth, autonomy, and self-esteem




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Watch and learn: learn self-love and accepting yourself

 

How to practise self-acceptance?

Check out the video above and read below for 12 clear steps to being able to truly accept ourselves:
 

1. Become self-aware and set an intention

Recognize your thoughts, feelings and pain, welcome them, and separate yourself from them. Then set the intention that you're willing to accept yourself in all aspects.
 

2. Celebrate your strengths

And accept your weaknesses. Thinking about your strengths, ask yourself a few key questions: what are the traits that always earn you compliments? What areas of work do you excel at? What are your unique talents? Making a list of your strengths and past achievements and re-reading them when you are having an off moment is a great way to practise self-acceptance.

 

“Making a list of your strengths and past achievements and re-reading them when you are having an off moment is a great way to practise self-acceptance.”


Also, add to the list whenever possible. Instead of focuses on failures or mistakes (which is normal), replace that negative thought with a positive one about when you achieved something. 

 

3. Consider the people around you

In recognizing positive and negative reinforcement, and practicing your sense of shared humanity, for instance, through loving-kindness meditation.
 

4. Create a support system

Surround yourself with people that accept you and believe in you – and avoid those that don't. Indeed, quality relationships are key to happiness and acceptance of self. In a landmark 75-year, multigenerational study, Robert Waldinger measured happiness levels in people from Boston’s poorest neighborhoods. The most joyful were those with high-quality social connections.

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Friend focus: surround yourself with people that accept you for you

 

5. Forgive yourself

This can be a tough one to conquer, but learning to move on from past regrets and accepting that you were the best possible you at that moment is a key step to self-acceptance. Indeed, even if we’ve become pretty good about being able to forgive others, self-forgiveness seems to be much more difficult. 


So, in order to forgive ourselves, we first need to admit to ourselves that we made a mistake. Take ownership and acknowledge your error — then, try to retain what you learned from the event but release everything else (here's how to stop ruminating over things you cannot change). Try to appreciate those missteps for what they actually are: a stepping stone on your life path. Also, remind yourself that mistakes and failures are part of being human. In fact, it’s how we learn and grow.
 

6. Realize that acceptance is not resignation

Acceptance is letting go of the past and things we cannot control. You can then focus on what you can control, and empower yourself further.
 


7. Quiet your inner critic

And stop rating yourself against others. Theodore Roosevelt once said, “comparison is the thief of joy,” and today this rings truer than ever. One way is to try to avoid scrolling endlessly through social media channels and comparing your life to that of others. Remember, people only tend to present and project the positive images of their lives – you never really know how people are feeling behind the scenes. 

 

8. Grieve the loss of unrealised dreams

Perhaps you've found yourself in a job you don't enjoy, an area you never wanted to live in, or single when you’ve always dreamed of being settled with a partner. Whatever it is, we often wonder what dreams are worth holding onto and whether, in fact, it's time to just let go.

 

“One of the most significant factors to be happy, and overall feel satisfied with your life, is self-acceptance.”


And when it is time to let go, it's not always easy. For some of these plans, giving them up can lead to freedom. But for other unrealized dreams, there can be deep grief involved. Whatever your situation, realize that letting go of unrealized dreams doesn't stop you dreaming of new situations and aspirations for your future! Reconcile who you are with the ideal image of your youth or younger self and grab hold of what's coming next.  
 

RELATED: The 8 types of grief explained

 

9. Perform charitable acts

Give to others through volunteering and recognize how you can help and make a difference in others’ lives. The benefits of kindness are scientifically proven and both mental and physical. 
 

10. Speak to your highest self

The inner voice that has compassion, empathy, and love, to others, and to yourself.

how-to-practise-self-acceptance-self-love-yourself.jpg
Follow our 12 steps and learn how to practice self-acceptance

 

11. Be kind to yourself

Cultivate self-compassion, in not judging yourself, or over-identifying with self-defeating thoughts or behaviour. Take care of your mind and body.
 

12. Keep believing in yourself

Use positive self-talk and practice PERT: Positive Emotion Refocusing Technique when times are tough. The path to self-acceptance can be rough and bumpy. There will be times that current external circumstances, past experiences, and our programming make it hard or impossible to accept ourselves. 


If this happens, there's no shame in seeking help – from a loved one or a professional – when things get too hard. In the end, the greatest gift you can give yourself is self-acceptance. In the words of psychologist Tara Brach: “Imperfection is not our personal problem – it is a natural part of existing. The boundary to what we can accept is the boundary to our freedom.”


By learning how to practice self-acceptance and self-love, we can learn to live with our imperfections and be truly free and happy. 
Main image: mimagephotography/shutterstock

 

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Self-Care | Acceptance | Letting go | Compassion Resilience Meditation

 

 

Written by Arlo Laibowitz

arlo.jpgArlo is a filmmaker, artist, lecturer, and intermittent practitioner of metta meditation and morning yoga. When not dreaming about impossible projects and making them happen in the most impractical ways possible, he journals, listens to jazz, or cuddles with his better half.

 


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Tine

Posted

This article about self-acceptance reminded me of the difference between shame and guilt.

While guilt is concrete shame questions our worth as a person in general, so with self- acceptance, I still see my mistakes. Nevertheless, instead of falling into a trance of not being good enough and feeling bad about every part of myself and therefore becoming defensive, I can focus on the one thing that went wrong while staying grounded in the knowledge of my basic goodness. 

With self-acceptance, I can more genuinely apologize as my existence is not fundamentally threatened when I admit a mistake. I am wholeheartedly sorry knowing that I am a good person who fucked up and I need to make up for this specific incident.

Since I manage to accept myself, I have also taken responsibility for my actions more gracefully. Usually, people sooner or later appreciate that I am taking responsibility, validating their hurt rather than getting defensive. 

Like many things in the area or growth, mindfulness and personal development, this "becoming soft to the hurt we caused" is a real core strength and looks somehow counterintuitive at first.

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Lizzie

Posted

I really enjoyed reading this article, and I think self-acceptance is something worth reminding ourselves about frequently. Some of the steps are definitely still something I struggle with at times; comparing myself to others and being critical of myself. I try to think "what would I say/do/think if this was a friend of mine" - and 10 out of 10 times I would definitely not be mean or judgmental! 😅 So I try to practice self-acceptance that way - talk to and treat myself as I would a friend. 

Self acceptance can be hard if you've gotten used to beating yourself down, but I think these 12 steps really breaks it down and makes it easy to see how everyone can try and change their mindsets. 

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Calvin77

Posted

When I comes to self-acceptance I used to do (and occasionally still do!) a bit of comparison with others, contemporaries I know who maybe have achieved certain things I was searching for at one point. But then I always go back and think about the great life experiences I’ve had in the past 20 years and feel happy for what I’ve done and achieved, things perhaps other people haven’t experienced at they were so career-focused.

Now I just accept myself for who I am and love it. Since I stopped pressuring myself to achieve, I’ve felt much more relaxed. It’s great to have some ambitions, but also – I’ve come to realise – it’s totally fine to not have any also.

Tip 2 is really useful. Whenever I was feeling rubbish about what I’d achieved, I’d always focus on past successes to give my self-acceptance a little boost. And this is something anyone can do during their whole lifetime. Tip 8 about letting go of past dreams is really powerful also. Thanks, Arlo!

 

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