Accepting yourself comes with benefits and challenges. Unconditional self acceptance may not be easy or seem possible, but once you experience its benefits, you will want more of it. This inner state of being okay with who you are is essential for mental well-being. This is a far cry from what we tend to think and feel as we look in the mirror and think back over our lives.
Accepting yourself is about being at peace with all aspects of your being. It is a sense you have deep within that your core Self is perfect. You may call this your soul or inner being. It is not the ego self, but the real you underneath the judgments and stories you believe about who and what you are.
Unconditional self acceptance is not about being egotistical or denying truth. It is not an excuse for making poor decisions and bad behavior. Just the opposite. From a position of acceptance you can be honest with yourself and make better personal decisions.
Accepting yourself offers a soft place for assessing aspects of your life without being unduly hard on yourself. It offers no energy for self-loathing and harsh judgments. What is, is. What was, was. You are at peace regardless of perceived flaws and short-comings because your SELF is not those things.
When you accept yourself, you make decisions about change and personal transformation, or not, authentically instead of primarily from ego. As a bonus, desired transformation springing from your inner being can be a breeze compared to trying to achieve something aligned with a false image. It is the difference between being freed of a heavy weight and forcing yourself to be and do.
"Even though I have this problem, I deeply and completely love and accept myself."
Those words are the opening setup statement of the Emotional Freedom Technique. It is an acknowledgement of your true nature as one free of self-judgment. The words act as a reminder, consciously and unconsciously, of a deep untainted relationship with our spirit, whether they feel true to the ego and personality or not.
Extending love, grace and forgiveness to yourself feels good. And another bonus, when you genuinely accept your SELF, warts and all, you are likely to extend those gifts to others.
Even though challenges with unconditional self acceptance are common, some people can't even speak the words.
Why is this?
Your self-concept begins forming at birth and possibly earlier. Along with inherited genetic make up, observations about your world and what you were told shaped your beliefs about your world and yourself. They made you who you are right down to the cellular level. Some of us have even been taught that accepting yourself is egotistical and sinful!
Unfortunately, because of the wiring of the human brain, negative messages carry more weight than positive ones. We tend to discredit the good and focus on the bad. The media capitalizes on this. Advertisers spend billions convincing us we aren't good enough unless you are like this or have that. We compare our bodies with unrealistic retouched images and our material possessions with the rich and famous. We compare our spiritual lives with religious figures and our intelligence with the class genius.
When you 'buy what they are selling', you feel dissatisfied. You judge and reject yourself in whole or in part. At least to some extent you believe, "I'm not (important, smart, good looking, talented, rich) enough" to be worthy of love and acceptance.
For better or worse our make up combined with those messages, create our sense of self-esteem, which is confused with innate value. Fortunately, with education comes power. You can take back control of your mind.
Another challenge with accepting yourself, situations, and even other people is discerning the difference between acceptance and resignation. These two mental states have a totally different energy and attitude even though you may still have to tolerate a condition or situation.
When you resign yourself to something, you give up. You acknowledge defeat. It carries an energy of being the disempowered victim. There is no hope in getting what you want or being how you want to be so you give up and settle. We tell ourselves it's okay, but it really isn't. Oh well, I have to put up with this. Poor me.
Acceptance is an active choice. It takes courage and wisdom. It is empowering and full of positive energy. You may acknowledge that a situation is beyond your control, but you exercise choices in how you handle it and make the best of it. I choose to accept what I cannot change because changing someone else in not my job or at this time the circumstances cannot be changed. I choose to be okay with it and adapt to meet my needs and wants another way.
For example, you might say, "I'm fighting depression (or cancer)". Does that feel like accepting yourself? Does it feel peaceful or stressful? This can get tricky. A statement like this may feel positive at times, perhaps when your body is literally fighting an invading virus. At other times it zaps your energy. Tune in and check how those words feel for you.
On the other hand, some conditions such as arthritis and depression are created by conditions in your mind and body. To fight them means to fight yourself. Try an affirmation like this instead, "I'm thankful for what this illness is teaching me about myself and I'm cooperating with my mind and body to get well."
Instead of saying, "I hate my fat thighs," genuinely say "I appreciate that my legs let me walk and go where I want, even though I've put extra weight on them. What wonderful legs they are."
Notice how different the statements sound and feel. Which statements inspire you to love yourself and take positive steps to change and wellness? Even if your ego doesn't believe it, can you feel the soothing balm of those words in your soul?
How you feel about yourself affects more than your self-esteem. Feelings of low self worth create an undercurrent of stress that makes physical and mental healing difficult. There is a scientific reason for this. Negativity is discouraging and stressful. It can make you feel anxious, angry, sad, or depressed. You can be sure the message makes its way to your cells. The chemical changes created by all these kinds of emotional and mental distress reduce cell repairing DHEA levels and elevate cortisol.
You really gain nothing positive when you are hard on yourself, except perhaps a temporary boost of motivation. Even this is not the lasting nurturing kind of motivation that fosters long-term, meaningful personal transformation and health.
After all, why should your mind and body take care of someone you reject?
On the other hand, freeing yourself from the grips of self-condemnation is a big relief. Forgiveness and release are powerful healers of mind, body and spirit. Even in difficult situations, being okay with what is and who you are lets you relax and creatively seek solutions.
Healthy self-acceptance is accompanied by good self-esteem minus the puffed up ego, confidence, assertiveness, and a commitment to taking care of yourself. Because you accept yourself for who you are, you can extend acceptance to others.
Unconditional self acceptance opens you to your true nature as a loving, compassionate person. It frees up energy for healing and puts you in tune with inner guidance and intuition. It fosters your sense of connection with others and 'all that is'.
When you love and accept yourself unconditionally, you are naturally motivated to seek personal evolution and spiritual wellness, not because there is something wrong with you, but because you are worth it. Your decisions and goals will align with what is in your best interest. And it certainly feels better than beating yourself up with negativity.
Accepting yourself with an illness, disability, or troublesome character flaw may seem counter-intuitive. You may even resist it because you don't want to be like that or have that condition. Being okay with yourself as you are doesn't mean you like everything about yourself or your situation. It means you permit yourself to be an imperfect human being living an imperfect life without feeling the need to condemn yourself for it. Having this attitude creates a sense of inner peace in your mind and body.
I know from experience how important unconditional self acceptance is at these times. For years I struggled with limitations and pain from a ruptured disk. Just getting through the work day was difficult and exhausting. When I resented the lingering effects of this condition, I became more and more depressed and inactive. Once I decided to make peace with my body and the situation, the tension in my mind and body eased. Almost miraculously without making many changes, the discomfort lessened and my quality of life improved. To this day, set-backs and flare ups serve to remind me that I need to listen to my body and accept what is. When I do, all is well in my mind and spirit.
Even if you know you are responsible for creating poor health, poor relationships, or a less than desirable living situation, forgive yourself and let the bad feelings go. Valuing yourself as you are is not always easy, but you are worth it. When you acknowledge what you like about yourself and what you would like to improve without judgment, you will be able to make peace with what is and love yourself enough to create a healthier happier state of being.
Accepting Yourself page updated 04/2020