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How is Self Acceptance Achieved?

Updated on September 1, 2017
JY3502 profile image

I became a news reporter for the Marine Corps in the early 70s. I'm now retired and write on a wide variety of subjects in my spare time.

What is self acceptance?

Does it mean knowing your behavior, attitude and life style can be improved, then do nothing to change or improve it Self acceptance is a difficult challenge no matter how much self improvement or therapy we’ve undertaken. Improvement requires understanding and knowledge our own character and habits. Therefore, it doesn't help to compare ourselves to what others may achieve.

This remains one area where many still feel challenged. Accepting our weaknesses, but doing nothing, isn't the right kind of self acceptance. It doesn't contribute to real progress or improvement.

Although closely related, it isn't the same as self-esteem. Whereas self-esteem refers specifically to how valuable, we see ourselves, it has far greater ramifications. When we accept our self, we embrace all facets of ourselves, and not just the positive. We can recognize our weaknesses, and limitations, but it doesn't keep us from fully accepting ourselves.

When we put ourselves last, we become resentful and look to others to make us feel better. When they're unable, we blame ourselves for the failure.

To begin accepting yourself, consider the following questions:

  • What do I need to do to begin accepting myself?

  • Have I adopted judgments of others, and is there any truth to them?

  • Is there any gain in criticizing myself?

  • What do I want others to do for me, I'm not willing to do for myself?

  • Can I unconditionally accept myself as I am, although there are things I'd like to change?

Comparing Ourselves to Others

The greatest obstacle to self acceptance is usually unhealthy self judgments. The mind easily generates such judgments because of previous programming. New, wholesome thought processes must take their place, then it's easier to move forward with self confidence.

We form attitudes about ourselves, some good, some bad. We tend to view the bad as defects. It's important how we react because they affect every part of our life.

We have physical, mental, and characteristics different from others. Even our attitudes differ. Studies show the majority aren't satisfied with their appearance, most likely because we compare ourselves to others.

According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, the word "attitude" means "an internal position or feeling with regard to something else." In essence, your attitude is your inward disposition concerning other things, such as people and circumstances.

Most of us can easily identify bad attitudes in ourselves, such as rebellion, defiance, impatience, apathy, rudeness etc. These are bad attitudes we can live without. Attitude adjustments must take place internally. When we measure ourselves by standards of others we can expect problems with our own character.

If we hold bad attitudes about ourselves we eventually reject ourselves. During childhood, many made fun of these differences. No doubt, this caused varying degrees of self rejection.

Signs We are Rejecting Ourselves

How can we know if we are rejecting ourselves? There are some outward signs to look for:

  • Paying Excessive Attention to Our Clothes. Are we attempting to hide physical features we don't like about ourselves?

  • Fearing What Others May Think. This can cause excessive shyness. Complaining about our physical features, and abilities are definite signs of self rejection.

  • Feeling Unaccepted. Self rejection can often be traced to a distorted self-image. If a person has trouble accepting them self, they tend to criticize others.

  • Perfectionism and feelings of inferiority. This is common, but can result in fear of failure, procrastination, or unpredictable anger.

What Do You Base Your Identity On?

Is it your job, relationships, or what others think about you? We can't truly care for others, unless we care about ourselves first. So, we must first forgive our self. The term self acceptance isn't easily explained. But, suffice it to say, accepting yourself as you are is the first step. It helps you see your good, as well as not so good points. This will help remove feelings of guilt, and lack of self esteem.

Do you tend to be more accepting mistakes of others than your own? If so, you're being too hard on yourself. They aren’t better than you! Everyone makes mistakes, even them.

Ways to Better Yourself:

  • Focus On Your Positive Qualities. Although self improvement is a good thing, it’s also important to focus on your positive qualities, rather than your negative ones. Maintaining a positive focus will help you accept yourself. It will also make it easier to attain your goals by utilizing your positive talents.

  • Prevent Negative Thinking Patterns. It’s okay to occasionally have some negative thoughts. It's natural. However, we must learn to ignore negative thoughts and replace them with positive ones. Replace them with affirmations, which are positive thoughts verifying your positive qualities.

  • Accept Your Imperfections. Being human is to have imperfections. Instead of dwelling on ones you can’t change, accept them. This is where improving the rest of your life starts.

  • Positive Self Talk. Positive self talk helps change how you see yourself. It's alright to compliment yourself on good things about yourself, such as your looks, positive qualities, and things you do right. Make it a habit.

  • Disregard What Others Think. It's impossible to please everyone. If you try, you’ll notice not only will they still be unhappy, but the effort will leave you exhausted and still feeling miserable yourself. Make your own decisions concerning your priorities.

  • Avoid Worry. Worrying won't help your situation. Rather than wasting your time in fear, do what you can to make things better. If there’s nothing you can do at the time, focus on moving forward in other ways.
  • Do Your Best. If failing in that, don't be angry with yourself. Even if you didn't give it your all. Find a way to forgive yourself. And next time remember to give it your best effort.

In changing the way you think about yourself, you’ll change the way you see the world. And by being a positive thinker things can only get better.

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