Self-acceptance is a huge contributor to our well-being. We are aware that happiness, success, and good relationships have an intimate connection with self-acceptance.
In addition, we know accepting ourselves leads to living a more authentic life, and offers greater chances to fulfill our potential. But what exactly is self-acceptance, and how can you achieve it? Is there a quick way to make peace with who you are?
To begin, we'll look at why we all need self-acceptance in our lives, and how it relates to like ourselves. Next, we'll dig into the science of self-acceptance.
For example, we'll consider how negativity thinking holds us back, and why most of us tend to regularly disregard positivity. From there, you'll be in an excellent position to think about cultivating great self-acceptance yourself.
We'll offer four techniques you can use starting today, and close by looking at how you can use self-hypnosis techniques to build self-acceptance.
Firstly, why is self-acceptance important? In short, when we can't accept ourselves, we tend to live a lie to some degree. We also have lower self-esteem and don't value ourselves enough to let others see who we are.
In contrast, when we feel able to embrace who we are, we feel happier, we live in accordance with our real values, and we let others see our true selves. This opens up the possibility for deep connections.
The benefits of self-acceptance are intuitive, but it's not always easy to start liking yourself. Many of us have had early experiences that taught us we were not good enough in some way.
Consequently, it's common to learn that it's wiser to project a false self than it is to fully embrace who you are. In addition, as we'll shortly explore, the way human brains work just makes it easier to emphasize negative information.
One way to begin exploring your own level of self-acceptance is to ask yourself what you like about yourself – what specific traits and qualities.
If you're not sure, it's likely that there's some work left to do on learning to accept yourself. Sometimes, a large part of this work is about getting to know yourself, so that you can accept yourself.
In other cases, the emphasis is more on rejecting false stories that tell you that you don't deserve to be acceptable.
Having briefly considered the importance of acceptance, you might now be wondering why it can be so hard for us to accept ourselves.
Even people with relatively happy upbringings and charmed lives can still struggle to gain self-acceptance. One factor playing a role here is that different parts of our brains sort negative and positive information.
Specifically, the hemisphere that deals with negative feelings and experiences are more information-focused.
This cognitive, detail-oriented part of your mind actually fixates on all the tiny details associated with negative things you go through. It simply requires more brainpower to process the negative things in our lives, and the result is often that we spend more time fixating on these things.
From there, it's natural for us to assume that the negative carries more weight. The end result is that we easily become convinced that we're more bad than good, and struggle to accept ourselves.
The different ways we process information, then, leads to a negativity bias. This negative thinking is well-studied in psychology, and it refers to our tendency to give more attention to the bad than the good.
The real-world implications of this include feeling the pain associated with criticism much more than we feel the joy associated with pride. If you think back to examples of your own life, you'll be able to see this bias in action under the surface.
When it comes to self-acceptance, then, it's all too easy to generate a list of things you don't like about yourself and really challenging to come up with even a few qualities you genuinely like about yourself.
And this negativity bias has even far-reaching effects. For example, it makes us zero in on trauma at the expense of our happiest memory, and it draws our attention right to our mistakes instead of our successes.
Overcoming this negativity bias takes time and effort. In the next section, we'll look at some of the most powerful techniques for doing so. Before that, let's pause for a moment to think more about the impact of disregarding positivity.
When was the last time you noticed signs of positive energy in your life?
This can manifest in all sorts of ways, from feeling high levels of energy in the morning to experiencing a great sense of passion and enthusiasm about a new project.
If you're not regularly feeling that positive energy about yourself and the things you do in life, you'll be more and more driven towards self-rejection.
This self-rejection then leads to inauthentic ways of expressing yourself, and making decisions that are primarily geared to please other people.
In order to be happy, content, and optimistic about who you are, then, you need to go all the way to the root of the problem and start finding ways to better align with positive energy.
Let's turn now to the proactive task of building self-acceptance. If you're looking to learn how to overcome low self-esteem, the end result will be the same. After all, self-esteem flows from self-acceptance.
If you're going to feel good about yourself, then you need to accept and engage with who you really are. This means accepting your good and bad qualities and letting go of the fantasy that you need to be perfect in order to be loveable.
Such a task is certainly challenging, as we've all internalized standards and pressures from our loved ones, and even internalized further standards from pop culture and the media.
So, even if you understand in theory what you need to do to feel better about yourself, you may nevertheless struggle to put those lessons into practice.
This means it is crucial to have a solid, consistent plan for building self-esteem – one that you can follow every day, and that builds on those daily results to create healthy, unshakeable confidence in who you are.
Here are four clear and effective techniques you can use to start building that plan.
As you likely already know, positive affirmations are statements that you say to yourself in support of a goal. However, it's surprisingly easy to accidentally design affirmations that don't help you build self-esteem.
For example, take the affirmation “I'm going to have a successful, loving relationship.” If you currently have low self-esteem, you won't really be able to take this affirmation on board.
It stands in tension with your current, negative beliefs about yourself. Start smaller, instead, coming up with short positive affirmations that have modest goals.
If you're trying to build self-acceptance, affirmations you might try include “I deserve to feel better about myself”, and “I love myself more each day.” Rather than drawing attention to what they don't have, these affirmations reflect a slow, steady journey to positivity.
Another point worth noting about affirmations is their innate flexibility. Many people don't realize that you can do more with affirmation than simply recite them in the mirror.
Consider writing down your most powerful affirmations and displaying them where they'll constantly influence your subconscious. You might also set periodic reminders for your affirmations to appear on your phone, helping to reset your mindset if you're struggling during the day.
As we noted above, low self-esteem and difficulties with self-acceptance are related to negativity biases in our thinking.
Since your brain marks negative information as more relevant, you have to actively redirect your mind to positive things in order to balance out this bias.
One way to do this, and to solidify your self-esteem, involves finding your strengths and building on them.
If you can show yourself that you have valuable, enjoyable, and useful skills, this can go a long way toward helping you accept and embrace yourself.
For example, if you're good at baking, you might invite others over for a dessert party, or give your favorite creations as gifts.
These types of choices allow you to thrive, and to enjoy the positive feedback you receive from others as well.
However, perhaps you're not there yet – maybe you don't feel you know what your strengths are. If so, challenge yourself to write down ten things you've been good at over your lifetime so far.
You can include your own judgments as well as other people, and no item is too small for the list! When it's complete, ask yourself: what could you do this week to show off and grow one of those strengths?
The third set of techniques that boost self-acceptance all revolve around the idea of self-compassion. In a nutshell, mindful self-compassion is about treating yourself kindly – essentially, offering yourself the same support you would offer a friend.
This is not an easy attitude to adopt if you have low self-esteem, but any of the following exercises and life changes can help:
Practice daily mindfulness exercises during which you close your eyes, breathe deeply, and allow your thoughts to drift past your conscious mind.
When you're used to mindfulness, you can add extra layers to the practice such as body scanning (where you pay attention to each part of your body in turn, noticing what feels good and what needs care and rest).
Decide what you deserve from others, and hold boundaries in line with that decision. If others don't treat you with respect and kindness, reevaluate whether they have a place in your life.
At the same time, try to nurture connections with those who help you feel good about yourself.
Offer yourself forgiveness. Look at the past mistakes and regrets that you're holding on to, and understand that you were doing the best you could at the time. Resolve to learn a lesson from those experiences, and let the resentment go.
Finally, many of us are primed to deflect compliments.
If someone says we've done a great job, we might say it was easy.
If another person says we look beautiful, we may reflexively say “Not really!'.
However, each time we reject these compliments, we reaffirm the negative beliefs we hold about ourselves.
It's almost the opposite of reciting positive affirmations, as we say something negative out loud and it seeps into our self-image.
This means it's important to work on accepting compliments so that all of the positivity lodges itself in our minds and challenges our low self-esteem.
But how can we accept compliments when we feel so uncomfortable? One thing you can try is owning the discomfort.
You might say “I find it hard to accept praise sometimes, but thank you so much!”, or “I'm feeling awkward about being the center of attention, but I really appreciate what you said!”.
In time, you'll hopefully be able to accept such compliments without the disclaimer attached, but in the early days, it can be useful to be congruent.
And while you're working on this, try to take a critical look at where your negative self-image comes from in the first place.
You now have a deeper understanding of how important self-acceptance can be, and a set of tools for boosting your own self-image.
However, even if you practice the above suggestions consistently, some of your negative core beliefs can be very hard to shake. This is especially true of the ones we took on in childhood.
If we're carrying subconscious memories of times we were punished, belittled, or criticized, it can affect our adult lives in spite of our best effects to move on.
If the above sounds familiar, self-hypnosis for confidence might be the perfect solution for you. Our program focuses on helping you develop a positive, determined attitude about everything you do in life – even when it doesn't go right the first time.
This will help to reshape your beliefs about success, helping you to find learning in adversity without feeling bad about yourself. The process works by relaxing you to a level where the hypnotherapist can bypass your conscious defense mechanisms.
Speaking to your subconscious, this will deliver positive suggestions about your self-esteem and self-image.