How to accept yourself: Here are the best practical tips to feel good about yourself wherever you are and whatever you do.
Being self-confident can be experienced in different ways: as an emotion or a state of being. Learning to be confident about yourself in any situation while remaining calm and collected is possible.
Learn how to accept yourself by focusing on the present, practicing self-awareness, accepting the past, learning to say yes, and accepting the worst-case scenario without wishing it or resigning to it. Mindfulness meditation is a great tool for self-acceptance with scientifically proven benefits.
In this article, we will discover different practices of how to accept yourself and learn the importance of accepting ourselves just the way we are.
Table of Contents
- 1 How to accept yourself: Introduction
- 2 Practice how to accept yourself
- 3 Self-acceptance really works!
- 4 Learning how to accept yourself also brings risks
- 5 Understanding self-acceptance
- 6 How to accept yourself: Conclusion
How to accept yourself: Introduction
Self-acceptance is essential for our emotional and mental well-being. Indeed, learning to love ourselves and what makes us unique is fundamental.
But accepting yourself does not happen overnight! To do this, you have to practice.
- First, you must learn to accept yourself physically as you are.
- Secondly, it is essential to accept oneself despite one’s character flaws.
Practice how to accept yourself
Five main points need to be worked on fairly regularly:
Focus on the present reality
Instead of ruminating on injustice or prejudice, staying in the present situation is recommended.
It is also important not to drown in oneself, not to exaggerate, not to dramatize, and to overcome one’s fears in a particular situation.
Indeed, behind the denial of one’s limits and failures, one finds “fear”: fear of mediocrity (in one’s own eyes) and of the label of mediocrity (in the eyes of others).
The purpose of self-acceptance is to allow us to return to the reality of the situation, to continue to act, and also to exchange.
Protective phrases such as “take care of yourself” or “accept and act” can be used to help.
We often don’t realize how reluctant we are to accept ourselves. In fact, our clenching or hiding reflexes may seem normal, and we end up not paying the slightest attention to them.
The first step, which can be painful, is to become aware of it. It is, therefore, essential to be mindful of every time we:
- get annoyed by a setback,
- justify ourselves in reaction to a remark, or
- get angry because of a failure.
It is important to be aware of what is happening within us and realize that we usually say “no” to ourselves.
Accept the past
In the process of self-acceptance, it is essential to avoid dwelling on the past and lamenting one’s suffering, regrets or resentments.
Some signs that we have not accepted our past:
- if our past imposes itself on us through the events of the present, or
- if emotions from our past come back to haunt us like ghosts.
When we talk about making “peace with our past,” it does not mean that we have succeeded in forgetting it.
Namely, our brain does not forget anything and keeps everything in memory.
Therefore, it is best to “cleanse” painful memories of their emotional charge, working on them as we work on our fears.
It is interesting to observe this past, to sit with it, and note its impact on us until the overflow of unpleasant emotions is extinguished and the memories are no longer emotionally charged.
For example, suppose you were abused by a parent as a child. In that case, it is necessary to be able to “replay the movie” without shaking or crying, or being overcome with anger.
The more painful your past is, the higher the likelihood that you will benefit from the help of a specialist who can help you work through this.
It is interesting to note that many self-esteem problems are caused by severe events such as incest or physical or sexual abuse.
In these cases, psychotherapy is definitely recommended.
The key to freeing oneself from the past is forgiveness, essentially based on accepting what has happened.
In other words: we give up judging or hating and replace it with acceptance so we can start living again.
Learn to accept the worst-case scenario, which is neither wishing it nor resigning to it
One must try to work on accepting the idea of the worst-case scenario.
This means pulling all the stops, not holding back, and genuinely facing one’s fears, which are perhaps based on a total failure or a complete rejection.
In severe anxiety disorders, contemplation exercises can help consider the “worst that can happen to us”:
- What am I afraid of?
- What is the risk?
- What is the worst that could happen?
It’s the same with the fear of rejection and social degradation: don’t be afraid of these virtualities.
Meditation is an excellent tool for practicing such exercises. This technique has the advantage of helping with emotional regulation and stepping back from toxic thoughts.
The meditation technique called “mindfulness” is a popular research topic in psychotherapy. It is one of the best tools for making self-acceptance a mental automatism.
- Nystul & Garde, The Self-Concepts of Regular Transcendental Meditators, Dropout Meditators, and Nonmeditators, The Journal of Psychology, 1979
Don’t hesitate to say yes
To learn how to accept yourself, you can practice simply saying “yes” in your head. You should also recognize that things don’t always work out how you want them to and accept that.
You have to say to yourself:
“Yes, that’s how it is even though it bothers me.”
The best thing to do is accept this is how it is. There should be no attempt, at least not right away, to avoid, deny, minimize or justify.
Self-acceptance really works!
Many studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of these self-acceptance techniques.
For example, it has been shown that repression causes stress when faced with intrusive thoughts related to failure.
In contrast, acceptance will facilitate better emotional comfort.
Generally, the number of intrusive thoughts is not reduced by the acceptance technique, but their emotional impact is.
Therefore, the advice would be to immediately recognize the failure or the feeling of failure (instead of trying to minimize it, deny it, or think of something else).
As such, you can avoid it triggering negative ruminations about oneself, life, injustice, bad luck, etc.
In a study on these ways of “digesting” difficulties, researchers instructed volunteers to think about a failure:
- Either in an “experiential” way: by just paying attention to what is happening inside them when it occurs.
- Or in an evaluative way: by reflecting on this failure’s causes, meanings, and consequences.
The purpose of this study was to observe the impact of these instructions.
The results showed that evaluative rumination produced far more distress and emotional suffering than experiential rumination.
This research also showed that the difference was even more pronounced in volunteers who described themselves as “ruminators,” i.e., people who often and easily rehash life difficulties.
These acceptance exercises will be most valuable and effective for these people.
It is also essential to know that self-acceptance is used in treating chronic physical pain.
Namely, it is known that rebellion against physical suffering can worsen it.
In fact, all pains can benefit from it because acceptance is a tool adapted not to suppress suffering but to limit its extension to the whole person.
- Marcks & Woods, A comparison of thought suppression to an acceptance-based technique in the management of personal intrusive thoughts: a controlled evaluation, Behaviour Research and Therapy, 2005
- Watkins, Adaptive and maladaptive ruminative self-focus during emotional processing, Behaviour Research and Therapy, 2004
- McCracken, et al., Acceptance-based treatment for persons with complex, long standing chronic pain: a preliminary analysis of treatment outcome in comparison to a waiting phase, Behaviour Research and Therapy, 2005
Learning how to accept yourself also brings risks
If self-acceptance seems very difficult to you, it is likely because many fears are linked to it in our minds. Here are some examples:
The fear of becoming a dull, tasteless, colorless person
This fear often comes from people with unstable self-esteem.
They consider their anger and excesses as proof of their personality, even if it means that those around them suffer a little or a lot.
In reality, these are two different problems: the serenity obtained by self-acceptance does not come at the expense of one’s personality.
In effect, it just rids the person of some of their pathological emotions.
Fear that it will make everyone the same
This implies a fear of a predetermined universe where everyone, thanks to self-acceptance, would be peaceful and serene.
The apprehension of becoming self-indulgent, soft, and resigned
This fear is not about accepting yourself for who you are but about accepting yourself as a mediocre individual.
The reality is that we are all mediocre at times in our lives. However, behaving poorly at times does not make us mediocre individuals.
On the contrary, knowing how to recognize and become aware of our mediocre moments without being satisfied with them is already a sign of being less mediocre.
Not everyone can act according to their ideals and wishes.
Indeed, even the most remarkable human beings that people admire have also experienced doubts, made mistakes, and sometimes done injustices and bad things.
However, despite their defects, we continue to admire them and hold them in high esteem.
The theory of our fears
All our fears seem more theoretical than anything else. They extrapolate our flaws and project our current psychological state into an unlikely future.
Most of these fears are “theoretical” and unfounded in practice.
Moreover, they depend on the implicit beliefs that our family or society has instilled in us.
Being hard on yourself allows you to progress:
- “If you are going to do badly, you might as well not do it at all.”
- “You must always aim for perfection.”
These beliefs and values in themselves are not necessarily bad. They are only toxic if we apply them without hindsight or flexibility.
It should be emphasized that acceptance does not mean giving up values that are important to us.
Instead, self-acceptance allows for not becoming a slave or victim to these values.
Psychotherapies do not change the personality but only help us to deal differently with the personality traits and excessive internal demands that cause us problems.
Self-acceptance is not done “instead of”: not instead of living, acting, feeling emotions, jumping for joy, grumbling, rejoicing…
It comes on top of all that. The motto is not “accept or act” but “accept then act.”
Self-acceptance does not mean giving up on efforts to change that we feel are necessary. On the contrary, it helps us to conduct them calmly and kindly.
As these efforts of personal evolution will last all our lives, we understand the necessity of self-acceptance to live and change in a peaceful inner climate.
This is the only way to continue to enjoy working on yourself over time!
How to accept yourself: Conclusion
Self-acceptance is one of the keys to self-confidence and personal growth.
Accepting oneself allows one to become aware of one’s value and exploit one’s full potential.
When we feel good about ourselves, we improve our daily lives considerably.
However, finding peace with yourself can be difficult and can require real work and effort.
It is possible to accept oneself by practicing several points, such as learning to accept the past or saying “yes.”
Self-acceptance is a lifelong process that will help you love yourself and live better with others.