Many people seek out therapy for various challenges in life. The common thread that presents itself more often than not, is an underlying quest for self-acceptance. Learning how to come to terms with our imperfections, conflicting desires, and challenging emotions, is the journey of self-acceptance.
Acceptance as a general concept is often confused with the condoning and approving of negative or unfavourable experiences, emotions and behaviours. It is also misunderstood as being passive, and giving up. This is far from the truth of what acceptance is.
Jon Kabat Zinn, one of the founders of Mindfulness training explains it here;
"Acceptance doesn't, by any stretch of the imagination, mean passive resignation. Quite the opposite. It takes a huge amount of fortitude and motivation to accept what is- especially when you don't like it-and then work wisely and effectively as best you possibly can with the circumstances you find yourself in and with the resources at your disposal, both inner and outer, to mitigate, heal, redirect, and change what can be changed."
When we struggle with self-acceptance, we create resistance and tension with the present moment. The voice of the inner critic can dominate our inner-world accentuating our limiting thoughts, behaviours and challenging emotions. It can deeply impact the quality of our lives, and damage self-esteem. The first step toward change is awareness, the second step is acceptance.
Self-acceptance is having an awareness of your perceived imperfections and shortcomings, whilst simultaneously knowing you are worthy, and deserving of compassion and kindness exactly as you are. When we meet our experience with acceptance, we discover the loving and wise wholeness of our true nature.
Here are a few suggestions to support the development of self-acceptance:
- Consider the struggles and challenges that you face, as part of a shared human experience. All human beings are suffering with uncertainty, the meaning of life, wanting to feel loved and 'good enough', and parts of their personality or person that they wish were different. It can be very comforting to be reminded that you are not the only one.
- Take small steps to practice being your 'true' self. Notice where you are making choices and living your life from a place of 'should'. By listening to, and acting on your own internal preferences, needs and wants you strengthen your sense of self and your boundary. Although scary to start, it feels good to be who we are. Being authentic in our lives, creates opportunities to receive positive reinforcement for being ourselves, and we attract those that appreciate those qualities, which in turn helps develop self-acceptance.
- Cease the quest for perfection, whilst continuing with your effort. If you are relying on being perfect in some way as proof of your worth, you will never get there. In which case, you will never feel worthy.
- Savour your accomplishments and achievements - often we are too quick to jump to the next thing, which means we are never truly impacted by our efforts, never deeply acknowledge our good work, and we miss out on the positive affirmation.
- Avoid comparison. It is impossible to embody and have all of that which we admire or appreciate in others, and it diminishes the value of the treasured qualities you have as a person. Variety is essential, and your unique self has a necessary and valued place in the tapestry of humanity.
- Practice gratitude for the self. At the end of the day, contemplate your efforts, achievements and joyful moments. The mind, for evolutionary purposes is geared to paying attention to the negative aspects and events of our lives, whist quickly letting go of the positive. If you feel you don't have many positive qualities, successes or experiences, it is likely to be the bias of the mind, and is an opportunity for you to train your attention towards the blessings.
If you would like to learn more about Self Acceptance or make an appointment for individual counselling, please contact Natalia.