Self-acceptance means accepting your whole self without judgment. That includes your weaknesses and your quirky, difficult parts, the ones that you probably try to deny or suppress.
Do you frequently put yourself down, feel critical of your body, or fear that other people will “find you out?” Your reactions may be so automatic that you don’t even question them. You may quickly move into self-recrimination without a second thought.
If instead you slow down a bit and become aware of what’s occurring in your mind, you can begin to ask important questions like these:
- Is this a healthy way to relate to myself?
- Will it lead to happiness or keep me in a cycle of distress?
- Is this what I truly want?
To learn how to quiet your mind, read these 21 tips on mindfulness meditation.
11 Reasons Self-Acceptance Can Be Difficult & Antidotes
There are many reasons why it may be difficult to accept yourself. Just hearing one that resonates for you can can bring instantaneous relief. After all, you are not alone. Here are just a few and antidotes you can practice to eradicate them.
1. You think you’re at fault. You may blame yourself for something that happened in your life, especially events that may have occurred in your early years. For example, you may believe you’re the cause of conflict in your parents’ relationship or even their divorce.
Antidote: Give the responsibility back. It was never yours to own.
2. You think you’re not worthy. You began to feel inadequate as a child and carried that belief into your adult life.
Antidote: Everyone has fundamental goodness beneath the crusty stuff, including you. Instead of focusing on your failings, start to believe in and accentuate your positives. Take time to learn to love yourself, read: Self-Love: Why Should It Matter to You?
3. You didn’t have positive roles models. If one of your parents or primary caregivers didn’t accept themselves, you may be inadvertently modeling their behavior instead of accepting yourself.
Antidote: Find positive roles models now, people who love, accept and care for themselves with confidence. Follow their lead.
4. You’ve made self-acceptance conditional. You believe you need to achieve something before you can fully accept yourself. You’re waiting to complete your education, earn a specific amount of money, or get a promotion at your job.
Antidote: Take the conditions off and accept your whole self right now.
5. You are trying to live up to societal norms. There’s so much pressure to live up to societal norms in families, at school, and in the marketing you see all around you. You may not accept who you are because you think you should be someone else.
Antidote: Break them! Make new ones! Make your own!
6. Your circle is not supportive. It’s difficult to feel good about yourself if your partner, friends, or employer are constantly putting you down. I know this one well. I had a harsh boss for many years, which eroded away my self-confidence.
Sometimes, we unconsciously engage in relationships that reinforce our false beliefs about ourself. Don’t blame yourself for this, it’s not intentional. But once you realize it, you can begin to make new choices.
Antidote: Surround yourself with people who love, appreciate, and support you, one person at a time.
7. You’ve been traumatized. The experience of shock or developmental trauma can trigger shame or the mistaken belief that you were somehow responsible.
Antidote: Know this is a common reaction in trauma, but it doesn’t make it true. Find a trauma therapist who can help you heal the trauma and transform these incorrect beliefs.
8. You feel there’s something wrong with you, even though you can’t put your finger on it. You may have missed out on healthy parenting at a pre-verbal age leaving you in this vague, undetermined state.
Antidote: Learn to parent yourself now in soothing, loving, and empowering ways. I recommend: The Emotionally Absent Mother: A Guide to Self-Healing and Getting the Love You Missed. You can pre-order the new edition by using this affiliate link.
9. Your inner critic constantly finds fault. We tend to assimilate the parenting style of our caregivers. If one or both of your parents were loving, it’s probably easier for you to love yourself. If one of them was critical, you may have taken on her fault-finding style and continue to direct criticism toward yourself.
Antidote: Notice when the voice of your inner critic is speaking, and gently but consistently challenge her with a positive message. Read: Nurturing Self-Talk: A Kinder Voice Inside Your Head.
10. You feel you have unacceptable qualities, urgings, or dark secrets. You’re not alone, everyone does. I used to anger easily, a big embarrassment that I tried to hide for many years. Often times, this is our shadow at work. So much healing can come when you embrace your shadow instead of setting it aside.
Antidote: Know that no one is perfect. Gradually learn to have more humor and spaciousness when these difficult sides pop up. Read more about the shadow in my article: Embrace Your Shadow, Release Your Personal Power.
11. There might not be an obvious reason per se, this could just be your karma. I don’t mean that in a negative or impossible to change sense. This trait might just be what you’ve been given to work on in this life. Even so, the first step is self-acceptance.
Do any of these resonate for you?
In addition to the antidotes above, I love to use this phrase from the tapping approach to expand my sense of self-acceptance:
- Even though I _______________ (fill in the blank), I completely love and accept myself.
Here’s some examples from my life:
- Even though I’m a sensitive person, I completely love and accept myself.
- Even though I have trouble sticking to my healthy diet, I completely love and accept myself.
- Even though I’m sometimes overcritical, I completely love and accept myself.
Why not give it a try?
The ability to change your believes or reframe your negative self-talk depends upon noticing. This week, practice noticing when one of the eleven tendencies above appears. Then apply this self-accepting phrase or another antidote, right on the spot.
What’s the Cost When You Don’t Accept Yourself?
Feeling bad about yourself comes at a great cost: Your happiness, your vitality, and your ability to achieve your mission in life, for a start. Please reflect or journal on this: What is the cost to you when you enter into self-disparagement?
Accepting your whole self – the good, the bad, and the ugly – doesn’t give you license to stagnate or indulge in negativity. It doesn’t mean staying the same from here in out. And, I think you’ll find, it’s much easier to effect positive personal change from a place of self-acceptance rather than dislike of yourself.
Positive Repetition Is the Key
You can’t go from pushing away parts of yourself to accepting your whole self overnight. But it doesn’t have to take eons either.
One of my readers asked me how to erase deeply entrenched messages that say, “You’re no good. You never will be.” It’s not easy, but positive repetition will work over time. It can actually change your brain.
Sometimes the harm and hurt is so deep it takes years, but you can still feel better as you incorporate more self-acceptance into your life. When these critical voices come up, you have to know with certainty that they are lies. Don’t hesitate to seek the help of a therapist if you feel you can’t make these changes alone.
The majority of my emotional healing has taken place in just the last few years. This morning, I went to a Lomi-Lomi healer I hadn’t seen in over a year. He immediately said, “You look happy!” What a contrast to our very first meeting when angst, anxiety, and aggravation were the order of the day.
If you start on the path of self-acceptance now, I feel confident you’ll feel very different in a few years to come. And, you’ll also start feeling the benefit from day one. If you practice, through the power of repetition, you will change. You will grow in self-love, self-acceptance, and your ability to care for yourself.
Did any of the 11 reasons above resonate for you? What’s your secret to self-acceptance? I would love to hear.
Thank you for your presence, I know your time is precious! Don’t forget to sign up for my e-letter and get access to all the free resources in the Always Well Within Library. May you be happy, well, and safe – always. With love, Sandra