Self- acceptance is the acceptance of all facets of yourself that combined make who you are; be it the good, bad and the ugly. Flaws, limitations, imperfections even past failures and negative life experiences are part of your individuality just as strengths, beauty, capacities, achievements, successes and talents are. When you know yourself, acknowledge who you genuinely are, you can accept yourself. You also love, respect and believe in yourself more and in your worthiness. Self-acceptance deeply affirms your true essence. By giving yourself permission to embrace and accept the whole you, you can be more present in your life. There is an aspect of being aware and mindful of the here and now. You accept yourself and who you are. It means that the focus is not on whom you could become or should have been, or were in the past, but where you stand now. That is not to say that you do not want to grow and improve, but that you choose not wait for the future nor for the achievement of that ideal perfect image to love yourself. “Accepting oneself does not preclude an attempt to become better.” (Flannery O’Connor ,1961)
You accept yourself without putting such conditions on it. You love and acknowledge what you have achieved and how you have grown thus far, which made you who you are now. With self- acceptance comes more flexibility in the perceptions and standards that you set for yourself. Instead of I must ….I have to…I should… If I will…..then I will be loved, accepted, worthy, satisfied etc…..with self-acceptance you think about it in more flexible and rational terms-It would be nice if…or I would like to…but… however that does not mean that right now I am not worthy, good, adequate etc. The standards are more realistic. Sometimes you just have to accept that you have done the best that you can with the resources and abilities that you have right now and that is also part of acceptance.
Embracing who we are is the corner stone on which we build further. Even though we might need to improve on some aspects of ourselves, or we might need to accept that which we cannot change and is out of our control, these things still make us who we are right now. Nobody is perfect and that realization opens the door to compassion, forgiveness and acceptance. With self -acceptance you are not denying, ignoring or hiding your head in the sand. You are actually saying- I see it, I admit it, I am facing it and for now it is what it is, so what is within my power to do about it?
Acceptance is achieved when we treat ourselves with compassion, kindness, forgiveness instead of with criticisms, self- loathing, self -bullying and self- sabotage. The consequence of self -criticism is focusing on the negative aspects that we are not satisfied with, which overshadow and dismiss the positive aspects of ourselves and of the situation. The aspects which should be embraced, celebrated and strengthened are forgotten, which implies part of yourself, who you are, is lost due to self- criticism and pursuit of perfectionism. A balance can be established with self -acceptance. There is also a decrease in concerns about other’s reactions and fulfilling others’ needs when you are sure about your own needs, wants, who you are and the validation comes from within, thus it is not dependent on external resources. Accepting the successes and strength together with the weaknesses and failures means that the self –esteem and self -love are more constant and stable. The self-esteem will not be crushed by external influential factors nor become very fragile if it is elevated suddenly due to the same factors.
With self-awareness and the acceptance of the self as whole comes strength, authenticity and resilience. Self- acceptance also brings more happiness and contentment to your life because you honor and love who you are now, as well as, you perceive yourself as a worthy, loveable and valuable individual, which promotes more self- nurturing, self-care and better psychological well -being.
Body acceptance is an element of self- acceptance. Accepting yourself at the shape you are at the moment and an improved self- esteem is what Accept and Rock Your Perfectly Imperfect Body all about. Click on the link to learn more about it (www.drsharongalor.com).
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Rodriguez, M. A., Xu W., Wang, X., & Liu, X, (2015). Self- acceptance mediates the relationship between mindfulness and perceived stress. Psychological Reports: Mental & Physical Health, 116, 2, 513-522.
Xu, W., Oei, T.P., Liu, X., Wang, X.,& Ding, C.(2015). The moderating and mediating roles of self-acceptance and tolerance to others in the relationship between mindfulness and subjective well-being. Journal of Health Psychology, 21,7, 1446-56.