Accepting ourselves as we are can be extremely challenging, especially if that wasn’t modeled for us as children. Many people think they have to be worthy of acceptance by graduating with that degree, getting that great job, losing x amount of pounds, or having that fairy tale relationship. What if you were worthy of acceptance and love as the person you are right now, without changing anything? It’s true, and yes it is possible! The hardest part about beginning your self-acceptance journey is realizing that you don’t need to change anything about yourself to be worthy of acceptance. Here are three steps you can start taking today to increase your self-acceptance:
Express compassion, kindness, patience, and understanding towards yourself. When challenging emotions or thoughts arise, name them, feel them, and allow them to be present. Feelings and thoughts are impermanent and will pass. If you struggle with a task at work, or feel like you’ve made a mistake, allow yourself the room to do those things. We need to challenge ourselves and make mistakes in order to grow and become better versions of ourselves (or a better coworker, parent, sibling, partner, etc.). Notice how you talk to yourself throughout the day; would you say those things to your best friend, parent, partner, or a child? If not, think about small ways to start practicing self-compassion and notice how you feel afterwards.
Identify your strengths and what makes you unique….then embrace those. Everyone has their own strengths and struggles in life. Spend time identifying what your strengths are and how those have helped you move through challenging times in your life. Think about what makes you unique; how do you feel about those parts of yourself? If you notice hiding parts of yourself or personality around others, ask yourself why that might be. Maybe there are environments or people you can practice sharing those parts of yourself with, if it feels safe to do so. When we are our most genuine selves, it feels much easier to accept who we are. Remind yourself of all the moments in your life you thought you would never make it through, but you did and you’re still here. You can do hard things!
Practice mindfulness and present moment awareness. Mindfulness has become more well-known in the last five to ten years and information on the benefits are accessible online, on phone applications, social media, and magazines. Practicing mindfulness consistently improves your overall well-being and helps you learn to live in the present moment. Mindfulness doesn’t look the same for everyone, so try different practices until something resonates with you. An easy beginning point is sitting for five to ten minutes focusing on your breath. Anytime your mind wonders (which it will), notice that it wondered and bring your focus back to your breath without judging or being critical of yourself.
After reading through the steps above, choose one or two that you’d like to focus on. Instead of trying to change everything at once, or immediately, and then feeling frustrated with yourself, think of small steps to take moving forward. Maybe you practice self-compassion for one day or one hour out of the week; this is still change and it is enough. Allow yourself the time and space to learn and practice these skills, especially if you find it challenging at first.