One problem I have had with society is that loving yourself is equated with this ridiculous notion that you are arrogant, conceited, full of yourself, etc. Just look under self-love in a thesaurus and the first thing that comes up is conceit and narcissism!
Though, I do understand things are finally moving in a positive direction and this distorted view is finally being eliminated, I still think that there are a lot of people out there, that are almost too afraid to love themselves out of fear of judgement. The reality is however, that these people who will judge us, are only envious for they cannot love themselves, so feel it is best for them if no one else can bask in their own self-love. We are taught from a young age to focus on the things that are wrong over what is right. Pair this with the media’s constant influence for us to compare ourselves to their ideals of perfection and you have recipe for disaster filled with ingredients of self-hatred, insecurities and unhappiness.
I have spoken countless times about loving yourself and loving your body but never about accepting yourself- the most important ingredient for self-love. Learning to accept both the good and the bad, the strengths and flaws and everything in between that all make up the person whom you are is undoubtedly one of the most important tools for true happiness. The relationship we have with ourselves is the solid foundation required to create healthy relationships with everyone else; How can we accept others, if we can not accept ourselves?
Here are six things to consider and practice in order to achieve true acceptance of ones self…
Accept what is.
OK. I know this is a very obvious statement but it is the primary step needed to make everything else possible in order to accept yourself. Once you begin to cultivate the practice of acceptance and that there are so many things around you, that are not in your power to be changed. You are making a choice to arrive at a place of greater empowerment, no longer waiting for something outside you to change.
The fundamental point of true happiness is simply accepting what is and letting go of what you cannot control. It is taking an honest look at how things are, releasing interpretation and judgement.
You can live forever waiting for an apology, or you can accept that it probably won’t happen. You can wish you had made different choices, or you can accept that you’re in the situation you’re in. In both mindsets, you have relinquished the power to someone/ something else and decided that you can not let go until this third party has sorted it out for you. See the problem here? Instead you must shift this into acceptance and take control of your thoughts and feelings. You must acknowledge the problem with this mindset and chose to accept that the other person has not apologized or that you made your own choices and now you must deal with the situation you are now in. No one knows if that will change in the future, but for now, this is how things are. When you decide to accept, you enter the world of authentic living. You see things as they are. You consider your options and choose wisely. You’re no longer willing to stay stuck and instead feel relief.What used to bother you is dealt with immediately.
Accept your imperfections
The key to self acceptance is being ok with everything that you are and not just nitpicking. The truth is that the world works in harmonious balance. Like yin and yang, there must be bad to appreciate the good.
Ironically, the things which you dislike about yourself, others may love. After all, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and we all have different perceptions of the world. For instance, one of my friends hates her freckles as viewing them as blemishes, whilst I was sad when mine faded, as I aged, finding them to be comparable to the stars in the night sky. Our flaws don’t make us ugly. If this statement is difficult to believe, then I would suggest reading the story of the cracked pot. Hopefully this will allow your mind to open and give you the tools to accept yourself completely, knowing you possess a combination of qualities. Instead of bringing attention to your weaknesses, view them as gifts to transform into the wholeness of your being. We are not attracted to others because of their virtues; their wholeness of character is what resonates with us most.
Take a picture of your face and remember that in 10 years time you will be amazed at how gorgeous you were. Be amazed now.
Everyone makes mistakes. It’s not just you, so stop thinking you’re the exception and learn to forgive yourself. You can’t change the past, only learn and move on.
When we can truly understand the fact that we can’t undo the past- the past is done, those things happened- we open ourselves up to more acceptance. This increased acceptance can then lead to the emotional healing we are all looking for. It’s good to always remind yourself that you made those decisions at that time because it was what you thought was best. The decisions we make are solely based on how we are feeling in that present moment and the perception we have. Maybe we didn’t have as much objectivity, or acted out of ‘survival’ mode. Perhaps, there were certain emotions such as stress or frustration that was building up prior, which clouded our judgement. Whatever the influences, cut yourself a break. If you learn from it, it was never in vain.
Be Kinder to yourself
As someone that is repeatedly told that I am my own worst enemy (and they’re entirely right), I understand how difficult it is to be kinder to yourself. The irony is that we are kind to others, complimenting our friends and loving our families but when it comes to ourselves, we forget and our views distort. The perception changes and we become much harsher and strict when we look in the mirror vs when we look at others. Why is that? Why do we become so critical of ourselves but if someone else does the same, we act quickly to demolish it? It’s time we look at ourselves, the way we view others.
To be kinder to yourself means not holding yourself to impossibly high standards. Furthermore it means putting an end to comparing yourself to others and to beating yourself up for making a mistake, or for not being good enough at something. Being kind to yourself means being your own cheerleader and celebrating who you are- warts and all.
Start giving yourself recognition of your achievements and succeses by praising yourself and be proud of what you have done. Treat yourself when you can, even if it’s something as simple as a bath or curling up under a blanket with your favourite book. You deserve gifts too. In times of distress, show yourself compassion and imagine that someone you love is feeling hurt. Ask yourself would you make them feel cared for and loved and practice this on yourself for a change. Most of all, always make sure to reminder yourself of all your wonderful qualities. No one is perfect and that’s entirely ok. Perfect is boring and both your flaws and strengths make you the amazing person you are.
Shift your internal story.
What acceptance really comes down to, is the internal story you are telling yourself. These stories can become prisons or a forest of freedom, the choice is entirely your own.
Maybe you don’t realize it, but the story you tell about yourself says more about you than the story. When you tell yourself you’re not good enough, create a scenario where you get rejected or ask yourself what others will think of you, you believe in the negative impacts of said story and then you become fearful, doubtful, inauthentic.
Instead you need to rewrite these stories and change your internal narrative that is holding you back from doing certain things. Instead of saying that something “happened to me”, start saying that it “happened FOR me”. This is an empowering way of viewing each of your experiences, whether good or bad, as beautiful gifts. From here, you can start to see how quickly you can move on from that part of your story with gratitude.
It is important to understand that you have the power to change the way things are by a simple shift in how you view it via the story you are telling yourself. Move from saying things like, “I wish this would change” to “This is what’s happening” and then into “Well, good thing I can shift this.”
Accepting all that you are and the things you cannot change, will undoubtedly cause you to flourish into something greater. You become more spacious, peaceful, open to others, kinder to yourself and you find clarity in your choices moving forward. You take stock of yourself and acknowledge that this is it. This is you. This is your life. You try on gratitude like an old shirt that might fit. Wear it despite the too-long sleeves. You’ll grow into it. Gratitude is a skill and acceptance is placing yourself at high value. It is the true component to developing your authentic self.
You can spend your energy denying, defending, and avoiding, or you can accept. The choice is in your hands.
Have you practiced self acceptance?