7 Steps toward Greater Self-Acceptance
From magazines to TV to billboards on the highway, it seems like everywhere you look, there are messages telling you who to be and how you’re not yet there. From an early age, your family likely influenced you with their own ideas about what success means. You might have learned to hold off on seeing yourself as valuable, or deserving of happiness, until you met someone else’s standard of worth.
By the time you reach adulthood, it can be all too easy to spend so much time judging yourself that you no longer feel comfortable with, or even recognize, who you really are. It’s often the case that jumping over some hurdle of self-improvement doesn’t bring happiness into your life, only more hurdles.
When you learn to accept yourself, you’re acknowledging the light and the dark within you; you’re accepting who you are right now. The beauty of self-acceptance is that you no longer have to wait to feel a sense of peace.
So how can you learn to truly, deeply accept yourself?
1. Befriend yourself
When you spend all your time listing the ways in which you’d like to change, you can forget to do something very important—be your own friend. If you’re struggling with self-acceptance, you’re likely not directing inward the same respect and interest that you extend to your closest friends.
2. Connect with yourself
Instead of spying on yourself through the scope of who you could/should be, who you have been, and what others might think of you, open the door to let yourself experience the world as you truly are. Getting in touch with your core beliefs, wants, needs, and emotions can be a wonderful surprise. You’ll come to see that you’re deserving of happiness just the way you are.
3. Believe that you are more than the sum of your mistakes
If your sense of self-worth is conditional upon whether you succeed or fail, you can lend a lot of gravity to the mistakes you’ve made along the way. Events or relationships in the past can loom so large that you feel like you can’t get past them. The truth is, you’re a lot more than what you’ve done “wrong”—you are just as much composed of strength and goodness.
4. Forgive yourself
Try to be your own shoulder to lean on. Sift through your self-blame and what you don’t want to accept about yourself. Afterward, in the same way you’d help a struggling friend move forward, make a list of reasons why you should let yourself off the hook. If you treat yourself compassionately, you can see that all along you’ve been doing your best with what you’ve been given.
5. Stop using the approval of others as the measure of your self-worth
Maybe you feel obliged to demonstrate your value to others, and in doing so, become very critical of yourself. If you abandon measures of happiness and success created by other people, you might just find that your true idea of happiness is much different than what you’ve been chasing.
6. Trust yourself
If you’re headed in the opposite direction of self-acceptance, it’s likely that your own voice in your head has been quieted by the din of all the ways in which you feel you’re falling short. Get to know yourself by listening to your own voice again.
7. Think positive
Count the ways in which you feel fortunate. You might come to see that the real you feels good about how things are in your life. If you commit to thinking positively about yourself and your situation, it’s easier to accept your weaknesses and flaws as elements of a pretty great whole—you.
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