Accepting who you are is the ability to know yourself well enough and acknowledging your good and bad sides. Specifically, it means valuing yourself the way you are and having the courage to tell yourself what can be done to become a better person.
There are many different techniques that can help you to acknowledge your strengths and weaknesses and many other ways to learn how to accept them. Maybe you even heard that well-known saying, if you do not accept yourself first, do not expect others to accept you.
On the other hand, I must note that this process is not easy at all. Therefore, it takes a lot of hard work and practice.
I had a very hard time accepting myself for many years and I would never let myself discuss it even with myself. After a lot of work, now I know most of my bad and good sides and most importantly, I accept myself. Yes, sometimes I can be a bad person, I can complain a lot at times or just not listen and forget things. However, I can also be a very caring person, always try to help if my friends have issues and I am always honest with everyone no matter what.
When I compare myself to the old self, the times when I felt ashamed of myself, now I accept them. It does not mean you should not try to get better though. Just knowing is not enough and I believe one should strive to improve himself.
How to practice self-acceptance
1. Acknowledge reality as it is
Facing reality is in a correlation with self-acceptance. If you are trying to accept yourself, you might also need to accept reality as it is. It does help a lot. It is not an easy practice and there are so many circumstances that affect the ways we see things. As a result, sometimes it is hard to know if something is the way you see it.
However, acknowledging reality and the current situation in your life can help you not only now but it is a great talent to have for the future. Once you reach this goal it will be much easier to direct your life to the new and better.
Also, accepting reality does not mean you are obliged to like it however there many things that you cannot change. If you were born in a country with a bad political situation or economy, there is no point to whine about it and blame everything on it. Instead, you can simply consider other countries where you can live, for instance. It might be hard but it is not impossible. The sooner you accept it the sooner you can start improving your life.
You can try out these simple things, to acknowledge reality as it is
- Start journaling, write down your worries and situation you have to face, write about the reasons and what you can do about it.
- Work on mindfulness as it plays a huge role in understanding reality.
- Practice gratitude as reality can be a little hard to face sometimes and gratitude will help you to stay positive.
- Learn how to focus on the things that you control, not vice versa.
2. Learn to be honest
Yes, being 100% honest is not always possible. We often call it white lies and we do not do it on purpose.
For instance, your friend asked your opinion regarding some dress that they like so much. You are not going to say that it looks terrible, right? You might not say it is amazing but you will not say it is the worst dress you have ever seen.
At some point, you do tell a lie on purpose. However, sometimes, it is because you do not want to hurt someone. And that is the key point I am trying to make.
Learn to be honest in a way so you do not hurt someone. Do not say things that might have bad consequences in the future. Being a nice friend does not always mean you need to please everyone.
To illustrate, imagine your friend met some girl who is not a very good person, who is negatively affecting him and you see that he is blinded by love and passion. He is not realistic enough to understand that this specific girl has too many bad traits and might hurt your friend. In that case, you cannot just stand there and let your friend make a mistake. Yes, maybe he found in her something special and maybe she is not as bad as you think, however it is a good idea if you tell your friend what you honestly think even if it might hurt him.
Do you get the point?
There are different ways, to be honest:
- Take your time before responding and consider how bad your dishonesty might affect the situation.
- Make sure you are not trying to impress someone too much as it may lead to dishonesty.
- Understand that you do not have to please everyone.
3. Admit your mistakes
When it comes to accepting yourself one of the most unpleasant things is our regrets and failures. It is very hard to learn how to accept the negative things about yourself especially those that you have done in the past and there is no more possibility to fix everything. No need to!
Making mistakes is fine. I bet you and I will make so many mistakes in the future. It does not mean we should be scared to do anything at all, right? Accept the fact that you made some mistakes and that you are not always right. Face the fact that you can do stupid things sometimes. Yes, it is awkward and terrible and we all wish we could have done better.
It is vital not to be too judgmental and accept your mistakes.
Maybe instead you should analyze them and discuss with yourself what you could have done better and what you can do from now on to avoid these mistakes. Just receive these life lessons and keep going.
There are many ways you can practice admitting your mistakes:
- Start journaling about your mistakes that you are ashamed of and read it over as if you read about your friend who is very important for you. Imagine that they failed and need your support. What would you tell yourself (“your friend”)?
- If you think your past mistakes hurt someone in the past and it is killing you, why not just be brave and apologize to the person you hurt? Yes, I know it is very hard and I have done it before. It feels bad at first but this life burden will be gone forever once you make it.
4. Fight the fear
Fear is one of the biggest problems when it comes to self-acceptance. It can take place when you are afraid of change or when you are scared of what others think about you.
If you want to accept yourself, you definitely should work on that. Being always in fear can slow down your progress and stop you from doing something greater. Do not fear yourself or expressing yourself. First of all, do things the way you prefer and if that makes you happy you really should not care whether someone is judging you for this.
To ease the process of fighting the fear, you can:
- Write down the list of the fears that you have, be honest with yourself and write every single thing that you think scares you.
- Write down the reason why you think you have these fears, what causes them and in what situation they occur.
- Finally, you can start brainstorming the solutions. Ask yourself how you can fight these fears, what can you do to deal with them, how to react and so on.
This will help you to be aware of your fears and it will be much easier to deal with them once they take place.
One of the things that I feared a lot used to be job interviews. I always thought that I am not good enough, what if they ask me questions that I might not be able to respond to, what if it will be too obvious that I am scared and I will give myself away. I used to have so many negative thoughts during job interviews.
Now when I stopped fearing it, I just do not care anymore. I say what I know, I show what I have. Being scared is not going to help me to get better and only makes me show myself in a bad way.
There are many other examples I can come up with.
For instance, I used to feel scared when I dressed the way I liked as in my country being dressed differently or having different hair colors, for instance, was not accepted by society. Blue hair or piercing would cause a lot of judgment from other people. Now when I am much older and I learned how to accept myself, I would never be scared to dye my hair any color I want. Yes, it might sound weird for you if you are from a more developed country but for me dealing with this fear, is a life-changing experience.
5. Notice your strong sides
Most of us tend to see a lot of disadvantages when we look in the mirror and when we are honest with ourselves. That happens a lot in most cases when you are used to criticizing yourself all the time. The moment you start seeing your strong sides it is getting easier to notice not only bad sides but good sides as well.
Do not be shy, do not assume that thinking you are strong at something is narcissistic or selfish. Stop waiting until someone tells you about your strong sides, stop waiting for others to compliment you all the time. Why not just compliment yourself, huh? And I do not mean to say that you should compliment yourself blindly.
Yes, it is much easier to see the bad sides but you need to understand that we all have good sides as well.
These methods will help you to support your positive attitude toward yourself:
- Write a SWOT analysis.
- Journal about your strengths, why you appreciate them and what you can do to improve them. Go through the list daily and remind yourself about it.
- Ask your friends and family members. If you find it hard to do self-analysis, no one can see you better than people who surround you daily.
Another great way to support your good qualities is by using them to help others. If you have some good traits or abilities that can change someone’s life, why not use them for others. You do not have to volunteer somewhere or join some groups if that does nott make you feel comfortable. There are many other people you can always help. Your family members, your friends or even your colleagues.
If you have some great skills at work, for instance, why not help someone get better and improve their skills. Helping someone is not only a good deed but it also will be helpful to understand that you are not as bad as you thought.
6. Break negative thinking pattern
Negative thinking is like a snowball that gets bigger and bigger as we age. Therefore, if you do not work on yourself, it gets even harder to deal with it. It can be very tricky to deal with negative thinking however once you start learning how it works it gets much easier.
A lot of negative thoughts come from childhood and we believe them to be our own.
The cause could be our parents who did a small mistake and told us negative things about us when we were young. Or we were not lucky and had a negative teacher who made us feel like a failure. What if we had to grow up with children with negative thinking who were not aware of it and they accidentally affected us with it. Maybe we met someone upset at the store or public transport and we were told things we did not deserve.
The core of negative thinking lays in childhood and many thoughts we have about ourselves are just a reflection of other’s thinking. Then as we age, it gets worse. We meet even worse people like our boss or colleagues, wrong friends or neighbors.
But once you realize that you are the only master of your thoughts you can take the power back and deal with negative thinking,
On the other hand, you should not be alert every time you think something negative. Once again, we are all human and we all have some bad thoughts from time to time. The key point is not to get used to it and not let these thoughts become patterns. For this reason, it is good if you learn how to direct your thoughts.
Let’s say when I start to have negative thinking about something I do various things to avoid it. If it is something big, let say something global, I tend to spend more effort to solve that negativity.
If I start doubting myself regarding the project I am doing that is supposed to bring me some income in the future and I start thinking that I am failure and nothing is working, I just share my thoughts with the person who does the same and can help me to understand what I am doing wrong or that it is fine to fail as this type of project is not easy.
I might also spend time writing something to let myself release these negative thoughts. Or sometimes I simply stop working on something that frustrates me, I let my mind rest and when I feel better I get back to the problem and deal with it very easily.
So give yourself some space and once it becomes a habit you will slowly learn how to break a negative thinking pattern.
These methods might help you to deal with negative thinking patterns:
- Instead of thinking, start writing. If you feel your thoughts are negative write them down as soon as possible.
- Use affirmations.
- Discuss it with friends or family members. Do not let the thoughts stay inside your head and let them out.
7. Learn to observe negativity
As I have mentioned previously, dealing with negative thinking patterns is important. However, it can be very difficult if you are unable to observe the negative moments. That is the reason I named this type of thinking a pattern.
A pattern of thinking means that our mind is developed the way that you start having a thought as an automated response to a specific situation. Because your mind does not analyze the whole situation and you automatically alert specific thinking depending on the situation.
Here is a simple example. I have heard so many people saying that when it is windy or rainy outside they feel bad, sad or negative. Many say things like it is rainy so I am not in a mood, it is windy I do not want to do anything and just lay in bed.
I used to have such thinking as well and yes at some point it can be explained.
You can not go out and have fun with your friends, it is cold and you do not feel comfortable doing anything that requires going out so if you like outdoor activities too much you might feel a little down that you are unable to go out. But it does not mean it is the end of the world, right? There are thousands of other things you can get frustrated about and why make weather one them.
For instance, you can do many activities indoors, like watching movies or reading. You can invite your friends over and spend time with them. You can call your best friend and chit-chat with them all day and have fun. Also, you can play some online games or maybe cook something for your family. You can even go outside, order a taxi and go to some bar or restaurant, for example.
Why should the weather upset your day so much?
For me blaming everything on the weather is one of the patterns and that is not the only example.
It can also be a negative reaction when someone gives you advice and you take it as an offense for instance, or your friend joking about your appearance and you might get aggressive or defensive.
Most of the time, when we get used to thinking in one way or another, our thinking becomes a pattern. However, when you learn to become mindful and catch yourself in these moments it will be much easier to stop this pattern.
One of the ways to be able to observe yourself is mindfulness. Mindfulness is the ability to notice the voice of that inner critic.
It did help me personally and it is not easy at all. I still have to work on that however after a few weeks of meditation I already started to learn to observe the moments when I am starting to think negatively so I can aid the issue on time.
For instance, I have an issue of overthinking and I overthink a lot of things.
When my boyfriend used to tease me with jokes if I was a little upset about something I could easily get mad at him. He was very nice and patient with me that I was getting upset for no reason. Even though I used to think that I had everything under control I realized I did not. I still had issues in my thinking from past relationships so my negativity pattern started showing off.
Then, I started observing myself when I thought he offended me and tried to look at myself from a different perspective. With time I realized I was getting upset for a very stupid reason as he was just joking and I was being too sensitive. Now I hardly get upset and I hardly have any negative thinking patterns from past relationships.
You can do several things to learn to observe your negative thinking
- Practice mindfulness.
- Write down the situation explaining how and why you get upset. Analyze the information and try to find those that look similar. If they are very similar it could be a pattern and you can start working on it.
- Practice self-awareness.
8. Stop comparing yourself to others
The self-acceptance process will be more difficult if you never learn how to stop comparing yourself to others.
You will never feel good enough about yourself, never smart enough, never wealthy enough and never beautiful enough.
By putting others on a pedestal you will always feel subordinate. Trying to compare yourself is senseless and the sooner you realize that the better. On the other hand, I do not mean to say that not comparing yourself to others is completely possible.
Step number one to get started with is the fact that no matter what, you will never be better than someone and not everyone will be better than you. What I mean is that there will always be someone a little better than you and you will always be a little bit better than someone else.
Yes, you might ask, what do you mean better? I do not like to use this comparison sometimes, as someone might say, hey, we are all equal, we are all the same.
So I do not argue at all; you have your ideas.
What I mean to say that, let’s say there is financial comparison. Someone will always have more money than you and someone less.
Then, for example, let’s take worldwide beauty standards, someone will always be better looking than you from your perspective or someone else’s perspectives. Not going to argue here what beautiful definition is. For some, it is blonde, someone with blue eyes, someone slim or someone bigger. That is not the main point here and I hope you understand what I mean.
Instead of comparing your life to someone else’s why not just live your own life, have your own goals and have your achievements. If someone achieved more in your life in your perspective, why not consider other factors? Maybe they worked harder? Why do you think you cannot do it as well? Maybe they just had more luck?
Maybe the field they became successful in is not your interest at all? If someone is successful in mathematics and you hate math why compare yourself to them?
If they became famous because they have a talent for singing but you have no talent, why do you compare yourself to them?
There are thousands of reasons to avoid comparison to others and just live your own life.
The best thing you can do in this case is to have a role model, instead of comparing yourself to them why not admire them and use them as an example, as someone who could inspire you to do better and become better.
In the end, there is no worse or better. Moreover, if someone is famous and has thousands of followers does not always mean they are a good person. Think about it, you do not need to be famous to be a good person.
You can use these ways to stop comparing yourself to others:
- Journal about your success.
- Practice gratitude.
- Compare yourself to your past self.
9. See a therapist
This is the final advice I would always give to anyone. As you know that I am no expert or psychologist who can help you to accept yourself.
It also does not mean you are not good enough to manage everything yourself. Therefore, if you see that accepting yourself is too hard for you, it tortures you and affects your daily life, you should never feel ashamed.
Moreover, you do not have to listen to me or listen to others who give away advice on the internet.
The only reason I feel comfortable sharing all of these is that it worked for me. I found my own ways that helped me and ways that I still use to develop myself as a person.
It does not mean that it will be suitable for you.
However, I also do hope that there will be something helpful. You will find something here that you implement in your life and it actually works.
If you feel like everything is going wrong in your life and you have sleepless nights because you have a hard time accepting yourself, see a therapist.
For example, find an online therapist if that works for you. Find someone locally or ask around advice.
I have also seen many people who hide that they are seeing a therapist because they do not want to feel ashamed.
Why are not we afraid to say we went to the dentist? Why are not we ashamed that we cannot take good care of teeth and have poor hygiene?
Think about it.
Self-acceptance is having the ability and awareness of your good and bad traits and at the same time, valuing yourself no matter what. There are many techniques that can help you to get to know yourself better and lead you to self-acceptance. To accept who you are you need to acknowledge reality as it is, for instance, learn how to be honest, admit your mistakes and fight the fears. You should notice your strengths and weaknesses, fight negative thinking patterns, raise your awareness and stop comparing yourself to other people. Finally, if nothing works, you should not be scared or ashamed and visit a therapist who can provide you with professional help.
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