The Power of Self-Acceptance
Do you know what sucks? Thinking that you’re never good enough. It’s treacherous, can be debilitating, and…
You gotta stop it–you really do. And trust me, I know. It’s been a struggle for me. A real life, knock down drag out fight to the death battle…with MYSELF! The journey with self-acceptance continues, of course, but I am in a better place than I was for my first 29 (okay, 39 or 40) years. And so what better topic as a focus for my first blog?
You’ve done it. We all have. Because at some point in our lives, we’ve compared ourselves to our friends or coworkers, belittled ourselves when viewing the lives of those on social media, and/or stared at ourselves in the mirror pointing out all our flaws. Often, we base our self-worth on how we measure up against others and whether we fit the ideal image society has created for us. As women, we often get criticized or will criticize ourselves when we don’t live up to the “standards” society expects from us.
Women are told they have to be numerous things: Smart, pretty, compassionate, attentive to others, and more. A recent Pew Research Center report, “Strong men, Caring women – How Americans describe what society values (and doesn’t) in each gender” asked 4000+ American what words they would use to articulate the values they believe women should possess. The top words were beautiful, kind, compassionate, and honest. The words for men? Honest, kind, provider, strong, and powerful. Words such as strong or powerful were viewed more negatively when applied to women. So, the fact that we hold ourselves to these standards is not simply an imagined profile – society is dictating it.
When we are constantly told we don’t have one or more of those qualities, it affects our mood, work and social life, and self-image. Feeling like you don’t live up to society’s image can make you feel anxious, stressed, sometimes worthless, and depressed. Placing an emphasis on self-acceptance and positivity can help you overcome self-image and confidence issues. Easier said than done, right? Not if you focus on one small step at a time.
What is Self-Acceptance?
Simply put, self acceptance is embracing who you are, the way you are.When you accept yourself, you accept the way you look, how you are or what you’ve become, and any other attributes of yourself, whether positive or negative. And, let’s not confuse acceptance with having to turn your life upside down and do something new. You can embrace your current life while also seeking fulfillment.
And, let’s be clear, accepting yourself is not to say that if you habitually wake up late for work, for example, that you should accept that and continue doing so (we wouldn’t advocate for that!). Rather, if you have a quirky way of dressing, like to dye your hair different colors, or even if you laugh like a seagull, those are qualities about yourself that you could (and should!) accept. Having self-acceptance provides you with numerous benefits and can positively impact your work and social life.
There are three rewarding benefits that result when you focus on self acceptance. The big three are:
One of the biggest benefits that result from self-acceptance is happiness. When you accept yourself, you’re telling yourself that you are just fine with the way you are. Loving yourself flaws and all allows one to attain true happiness. It is important to note that happiness cannot be bought (that Starbucks latte will only temporarily make you happy). Happiness truly comes from within and can be achieved through acceptance. Being okay with any life decisions you’ve made, not stressing over the three pounds you gained, or simply being okay with the state you’re in are all situations connected to self-acceptance and attribute to optimistic thinking. Having an optimistic outlook on your life increases your feelings of happiness.
And, happiness doesn’t just “hit” you overnight. It takes commitment from day to day, minute to minute and through small steps that build on each other over time. So, how can you get started?
Try this – The next time you look in the mirror, try noticing something you appreciate about yourself and when you notice something you don’t like, don’t give it a voice, put it aside and look at a positive or give yourself a pep talk. For example, “people always comment on my eye color. Look at them, they are pretty! They look great and I look great.”
When we embrace who we are, we become empowered. Self-acceptance leads to more confident thinking and thus, we no longer have the urge to compare or belittle ourselves in the presence of others. Accepting your present occupational role, for example, can give you the confidence you need to excel at your role, which may later lead to a promotion. Accepting how we are and what we do in the present allows us to feel at ease in our lives and motivates us to move from good to great.
Still wondering how to accelerate feelings of empowerment? Ask yourself these questions and search for the answers. You just might unlock something surprising!|
-What are you hesitant to embrace?
-What is preventing you from doing so?
-How would accepting it change your life?
Last but not least, accepting ourselves makes us feel free. When we can fully embrace who we are, we value ourselves, have a clearer mindset, and feel at peace. We have self-awareness and can freely accept others. Self-acceptance gives us the ability to eliminate society’s stressors from our thoughts and focus solely on our own happiness and goals. When you have self acceptance, you can be a more confident, empowered, and wise version of yourself. Take a deep breath, and love yourself. You are free to do so.
Again, this won’t happen overnight. You need to catch yourself when you are feeling overwhelmed by pressure and take that deep breath. Try to remember that we are who we present to the world, not who the world thinks we should be!