What is self-acceptance?
We have previously spoken about the importance of compassion and self-compassion in helping ourselves heal. Compassion is the act of being kind, warm and concerned about a person’s, including our own, difficulties. To be self-compassionate we also need to be accepting of ourselves.
There can be confusion about what it means to ‘accept’ a situation. When told to accept something we can feel as though we’re being told to ‘put up’ or ‘get on’ with it. However, acceptance is a far more powerful tool than this and does not mean giving up. Acceptance simply means acknowledging where you currently are; which is important for knowing how to move on from the situation.
When we practice self-acceptance we are working towards accepting ourselves as a whole, with all of our strengths and flaws. To learn this skill try the following strategies:
- Practice self-compassion: be kind to yourself, be mindful of your feelings and permit yourself to have flaws
- Be non-judgmental: we all have judgmental thoughts about ourselves and others, for example, saying to ourselves ‘I’m not as clever as others’ or ‘I’m ugly’. When these thoughts occur we are not accepting how things are. These thoughts are difficult to stop entirely, however, practice building your awareness of these thoughts and noticing them, labeling them as ‘just thoughts’. For example, saying to yourself ‘I am having the thought that I am ugly’. By doing this you are acknowledging the thought and not treating it as a fact
- Be balanced in your thinking: some people have a tendency to think that our mistakes are inherently due to our own flaws and that other people’s mistakes are due to ‘bad luck’. Others attribute fault the other way: other people make mistakes and they are susceptible to ‘bad luck’. Try to acknowledge that all difficulties are created through a mixture of your mistakes (and strengths), other people’s mistakes (and strengths) and circumstances
- Acknowledge both strengths and weaknesses: you may find that you have a tendency to hide your strengths or your weaknesses from yourself and others. Learn to be open about all sides to yourself. Whenever you find yourself describing a strength or weakness, match it with naming the opposite
- Avoid definitive language: using terms such as ‘always’, ‘should’ and ‘never’ does not leave room for the middle ground which is usually the closest to reality. There are very few things that people need to always, should or never do. Replace these words with ‘often’ or ‘sometimes’, for example, instead of ‘I am always such a bad driver’ or ‘I never understand my work’ say ‘I sometimes become inattentive while driving’ or ‘I really struggled to understand what my boss asked me to do today’
Self-acceptance and self-compassion are difficult skills to learn and you may benefit from some support. If you would like to discuss self-acceptance further then call Dr Julie Hannan now on 07530 854530.