Self Acceptance

By May Bleeker, 5 June 2009

Self acceptance is a state of being that involves a balancing act.

You balance the knowledge that who you are at this precise moment is 'just right', with the knowledge that you are a work-in-progress.

You balance accepting what you think, feel and do, while still being open to finding more helpful ways to think, feel and behave.

You balance what others tell you about yourself and what the world feeds back to you, with what you know about yourself, in spite of outward signs of success or failure.

Self Acceptance Starts With:

Loving yourself as you are, at this precise moment, without needing to be different.

This attitude of self love embraces and acknowledges everything you are: good, bad, beautiful, ugly, rich, poor, confident, insecure, happy, sad. Whatever you are, embrace it and accept it, because you are.

Accepting that you will make mistakes, that you have flaws, that sometimes you will fall short or do the wrong thing.

What seems right to you now may not seem right to you later, when your perspective has changed. And what is right for you may be oh so very wrong for someone else.

When things go wrong someone or something (pain, unhappiness, discomfort) is sure to let you know you've 'messed up', even if you acted with the best of intentions.

Flower, photo by Tanaka Juuyoh

Self-acceptance means accepting that your actions won't always hit the mark or satisfy everyone, and doing so without blame, recrimination, criticism or denial.

The Japanese have a word for this:

Arugamama - acceptance of reality as it is.

Whatever it is.

If you struggle to accept something you have done, try the following affirmation:

I was the only me I could be at that time, I now choose to care for me.*

Self Acceptance is NOT:

Condoning behavior that hurts yourself or others (allowing it to continue).

Permission to do anything, to anyone, at any time.

A get-out-of-jail-free card.

Our actions are followed by consequences. Even no action, at a crucial moment, can have very important consequences. We carry responsibility for what comes about as a result of our choices and actions.

Every situation has its own needs and requires its own response. Awareness of your self and others, and the ability to know what is required of the situation is key to responding in a helpful way. When the situation arises, you make the best response you can, based on your best judgement and deal with what arises out of that.

If you find yourself in a bad situation, self-acceptance is the first step towards finding a way out of it. Before you can act appropriately, you have to accept what IS no matter how much you don't want whatever it is.

Before you can get out of the hole , you need to acknowledge that you are in one.

Signs of Lack of Self Acceptance

Blame: self blame, blame of others




Criticism: self criticism and criticism of others.

Denial: conscious or unconscious

Avoiding people who might force you to confront your negative behavior.

Avoiding situations that might force you to confront what it is you cannot accept.

The Benefits of Accepting Yourself:

More energy.

Less energy is caught up in denial, defensiveness, and avoidance. Less energy is sapped by self-criticism, blame and anger. More energy is available for living.

Higher self esteem.

A greater degree of everyday happiness.

Better relationships with others.

*ref: from the book Trauma Victim by Lee Hyer.

Return from Self Acceptance to Doorway to Self Esteem
Return from Self Acceptance to Positive Self Esteem

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