The Power of Self-Acceptance
Abraham Maslow believed that the highest level of human evolution is self-actualization, which is defined as ‘achieving ones full potential’ or “successful development and use of personal talents and abilities.”
I believe that the purpose of our lives is to reach this level of achievement so we can share our talents, gifts, passions, and abilities with the world.
But how do you get there?
First, you have to identify what’s standing in your way so you can change it. Fears, limiting beliefs and the one most often discussed, low self-esteem are the primary roadblocks.
Actually, in my experience, self-acceptance is far more powerful that self-esteem, which can often be found lacking for reason’s we’ll discuss below. Before I get into the specifics of the power of true self –acceptance and how you can attain it permanently for yourself, let’s get into why self-esteem is often not enough.
I think the reason more people refer to low self-esteem as the culprit is because people are generally aware of their level of self-esteem while they may not be conscious of their fears and limiting beliefs.
What is self-esteem? It is defined as “self-respect: confidence in your own merit as an individual.” Synonyms include self-worth and self-image. However, I see self-respect and confidence/self-esteem as being different. I think you can respect yourself without having confidence/self-esteem.
Confidence/self-esteem is simply the way you present yourself to others and how your feel about yourself when taking on challenges.
Self-respect as the way you treat yourself and the way you allow yourself to be treated. But that’s just my experience.
Anyway, one of the biggest problems with self-esteem is that is has become very closely linked with physical appearance. Whether it’s because of media, advertising and celebrities, or because of having been teased as children, most of us tend to focus on and be self-conscious of our few physical flaws instead of evaluating ourselves as a whole.
You can build self-esteem or confidence by recognizing your strengths, skills, talents, and gifts. You can also build self-esteem or confidence by taking on challenges and increasing your ability to face and meet challenges, completing tasks, developing resilience and perseverance, increasing your ability to make decisions for yourself that are in your own best interest, and achieving successes.
Life is not really about success though; it’s about learning and growing by trying, and feeling good about your efforts. However, if your physical appearance is still tied in with how you fundamentally feel about yourself, you will probably have a rough road. Bad hair days, break outs, weight fluctuations and so on will always happen and if you let them affect your self-esteem, (cause self-consciousness) you’re still trapped.
Even if you have separated your physical appearance from your core self, self-esteem/confidence or the lack thereof are built during our formative years as the result of the actions and words of others, and what we tell ourselves about those actions or words.
To me, self-esteem is often based on achievements, success, and how much other people admire and respect you because of them. This makes it situation-dependant, meaning it can be built up by other people and events, and solidified by your mind (self-talk), and thus, it can be torn down by them too.
Your self-esteem can be shattered by loss, rejection, and/or perceived failure. Therefore, self-esteem can fluctuate along with the situations in your life; this is the other huge problem with self-esteem.
There are many negative effects of low self-esteem, as I know from experience, and I never learned how to improve my self-esteem once and for all. Luckily, I didn’t have to.
One day, when I was at a very low point in my life, I was, what I have come to believe, divinely delivered a way to achieve self-acceptance. And as I’ve learned, once it is achieved, self-acceptance is unshakable and eliminates the effects of low self-esteem while improving confidence; therefore, making it a more permanent and valuable goal.
To achieve self-acceptance, begin by practicing unconditional love and compassion with yourself. Start understanding yourself: your behavior, your motivations, your reactions, and why you think the painful thoughts and feel the painful feelings you do.
Be gentle and patient with yourself, we are all a work in progress. Commend yourself for taking steps to improve and grow.
Without self-acceptance, self-respect and self-love we generally won’t be motivated to make changes because we don’t believe we are worthy or deserving. And even if we do try, we are likely to sabotage ourselves.
Once we know we are deserving and worthy, we will be more likely to take steps toward self-preservation, self-nurturing, and self-improvement. When you feel better about yourself, it’s easier to do better; to care more about taking care of yourself, and to care more about doing what’s in your best interest and growth.
- Eliminate insecurities, defensiveness, denials, and excuses as you have accepted your “flaws,” “weaknesses,” “limitations” and “shortcomings,” and have no need to defend them if another person points them out. So it eliminates hurt from criticism,
- Eliminate envy, jealousy, feeling inferior, and the egos’ need to compare ourselves to and compete with others and what they have.
- Increase spontaneity, decrease inhibitions, sets the inner child free to play without fear of judgment or loss of outside approval (because it no longer matters).
- Allow you to be totally honest with yourself and others about your needs because you now understand what and who you are, and what you really need, (not what others have told you you need), without self-judgment or concern for the judgment of others
- Eliminates many fears
- Decrease the need to please other people to the detriment of yourself, so it decreases the incidences of overextending yourself, and therefore, decreases stress and increases your ability to say “no”, which increases the amount of time you have to self-nurture and self- preserve.
- Allow you to be compassionate with yourself which leads to compassion for others. This compassion for others will allow you to adopt the skill to not take things personally, which eliminates your capacity to be hurt or offended by them.
- Allow you to have your wants driven by soul needs not ego needs, illusory needs, other peoples’ wants, unmet needs from the past, or the need to correct or repay/avenge a past “wrong”
- Inspire you to develop healthy, productive coping/managing strategies, including stress management, and the desire for self-preservation; eliminates self-destructive behaviors because you value yourself
- Eliminate self-deprecating/negative self-talk and
- Eliminate harsh self-blame for making mistakes. They are accepted as the learning experiences of a growing, imperfect person; a person in progress.
- Eliminate negative reactions to “shadow traits” in others because you’ve accepted them as part of yourself and you no longer fear being reminded of them, therefore, your relationships improve
- Increase the quality of your behaviors because your beliefs will change
- Improve decision-making because they will now be driven by what is your and others best interest; you will look for the win-win.
- Free you to take more risks because you can accept not succeeding
- Improve ones self-image
- Increase your ability to make other people feel better about themselves. When you accept yourself, it means you feel valuable and like yourself just as you are. When you feel this way you area free to/willing to make other people feel the same way by complimenting them, lifting them up, enhancing their self-worth/esteem. You are no longer afraid to build up someone else.
- Lead to acceptance of others and acceptance of life situations.
- Remain and cannot be affected by circumstances, including rejection, loss, failure, or betrayal (unlike self-esteem).
Confidence in one’s abilities is easier to achieve than confidence in oneself. Feeling validated gives one confidence, but you don’t have to wait for someone else to validate you; so, validate yourself, regularly.
If you don’t love and accept yourself as you are, how can you believe that other people do, can or will? What I mean by this is that a lack of self-acceptance may cause mistrust or disbelief that other people love and accept you, causing you to sabotage your relationships with unproductive behavior and thus, become self-fulfilling.
It all starts with returning love to yourself; we can’t give away what we don’t have.
I’m not saying that you don’t need self-esteem/confidence. I am saying you need self-acceptance more.
The road to peace, joy, good relationships, and good health is paved with self-acceptance.
The road to self-acceptance requires identifying then accepting (and embracing) or eliminating those aspects of yourself you don’t like, identifying and putting to use your strengths, skills, talents, and gifts which will all help you develop self-esteem /confidence.
Who can you count on to always do what’s in your best interest?
Can you count on yourself?
You are potentially the only person you can count on 100% of the time Also, you’re potentially the only person on this planet who could get along with you 100% of the time.
Don’t you think that relationship is worth some effort?
Most people will disappoint you and you can’t control that (unless and until you eliminate expectations) but you can control/prevent being disappointed in and by yourself.
People love and accept you with all your ‘flaws’ and you love and accept other people with all their ‘flaws,’ so why should it be hard for you to love and accept yourself?
Get your self-acceptance today!
(Specific self-acceptance exercises to follow.)
May you perceive and receive all your blessings.
With Much Love,
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