We as individuals have a sense of self which even infants and toddlers are aware of. This is why, tiny-tots scream when someone touches their toys, and rejoices when their mother caresses them. Since we experience feelings that surface inside on an individual level, what makes our experiences differ from other level.
This sense of self becomes more strong as we grow up. Hence, some of us get either too attached, and full of ourselves, that we neglect everything around and become self-obsessed. Or we develop self-hate, have conflict with accepting ourselves, and become, wherein we beat ourselves in our head.
Consequently, developing the need to accept ourselves.
The Need for Self-acceptance:
Once when I was little, I grabbed one of my aunt’s magazine, and was reading a column where women aged 20 and above, were discussing their mental health issues.
I was nine at that time, and was in continuous denial that how can someone have a problem in going out, being comfortable around their friends, and walking alone with confidence.
As I was going through that column, I read the cry for help from a 25-year-old woman, who was asking the doctor what she can do to develop self-acceptance, and to be happy with how she is.
The lady wrote a long note, wherein she told the doctor, she hate hearing her voice echoing on the phone, dislikes how she looks from behind. Doesn’t like when people walk behind her, as they can see how unkempt her hair looks.
She went on to write that she cannot look into someone’s eyes or their faces, as she fears people will tell her how ugly she is.
When I read this, I was shocked to see that adults can be so afraid, weak, and helpless. Since back when there was no social media, I rarely saw this vulnerable side of adults, especially at my home. I never saw my parents or uncle or aunts crying or grieving. They were always stoic.
This was something that was beyond my understanding, and I felt weird because for me being strong and stoic was mandatory to survive.
However, slipping into teenage, and adulthood made me realize, no matter how strong we are, we all have our insecurities that go skin deep. Because when you grow, your experiences with people, situations, and with your own ‘self’ also grows.
Hence self-acceptance is necessary because it is the doorway to a mentally healthy, and balanced life, where you don’t beat yourself up for not being like others. Or not living up to the image that you have perfected in your mind.
If you are getting confused then let’s break down self-acceptance in simple words.
To understand Self-acceptance we should begin with “self”
What is “self”? Self is our individual personality, traits, and attributes that make us different from others and also unique.
“The self is an individual person as the object of its own reflective consciousness.~ source Wikipedia”
Self is like a lens from which you view things from your own perspective, based on your personal experiences in life or what you are going through in life.
The self is your identity, a sense of individuality—- who you are deep down.
Our self makes us experience life from what, we have held onto tight like experiences, and feelings that are so deep-rooted in us, that it acts as a sieve for our emotions.
“The worst loneliness is to not be comfortable with yourself.”~ Mark Twain
To be precise self is everything that goes in your mind about yourself, whether positive or negative in nature like things that embarrasses you most about yourself.
In order to be aware of ourselves, we need self-acceptance in life, so let’s learn about it.
What is Self-acceptance:
Self-acceptance is being at peace with who you are deep down without battering or belittling yourself for the past mistakes or decisions that you made. When you truly accept yourself, you are aware of your strengths, weaknesses, talents, and capabilities.
Since you have no qualms in accepting yourself despite the deficiencies, and have no shame in who you are as a person, and how you feel. This sense of satisfaction is a result of accepting yourself, and being aware of your self-worth.
Why Self-acceptance is Important:
Life is a one big experience in itself. Therefore, in order to cherish and live that experience, one needs to annihilate self-doubt, and self-acceptance and self-love are the first steps towards it.
“You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”
― Sharon Salzberg
Acceptance helps in developing humility, and empathy for ourselves and for others. It makes us comfortable in accepting someone who feels differently from us, while understanding— why they might feel that way.
This makes room for mutual respect and cooperation. We don’t hold any rigid opinion, or are adamant that our way is the right way.
Benefits of Self-acceptance:
There are many benefits of practicing self-acceptance. So let’s discuss a few here.
- Self-acceptance opens the doorway to self-awareness:
Practicing self-acceptance opens our eyes to the experience we are having, which is impermanent and momentary.
So we don’t lament on things or feel that everything should go as planned, and work in our favour. Because in this pursuit of perfection, we kill joy, and are bothered by every trivial change that happens in our life.
Therefore, practicing self-acceptance helps us in becoming self-aware, and to view the experience as it actually is, and not how it would be.
2. Self-acceptance makes us confident:
Self-acceptance gives birth to self-love, which makes us empowered and confident. It kills self-doubt which occurs because we don’t have faith in us. Find out what great philosopher J. Krishnamurti has to say in this regard.
“If you begin to understand what you are without trying to change it, then what you are undergoes a transformation.”~ Jiddu Krishnamurti
3. Self-acceptance curbs negative thinking:
Accepting yourself helps in muting the negative voices that murmur in your head. Therefore, we feel good about us, and we no longer keep an ear on self-sabotaging messages, that we subconsciously keep sending to us.
4. Self-acceptance improves our decision making ability:
Self-acceptance makes us self-assured which boosts our confidence, and makes us a problem solver than someone, who keeps blaming their fate or situation.
Sometimes, we loathe about small things, like not having a car, or finding it difficult to accept that we have an addiction problem. Having acceptance helps us in recognizing that problem and taking action on it, because we are in touch with reality.
Marsha Linehan, psychologist, and creator of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy points out, “We can either leave something, change it, accept, it or stay miserable.”
5. Acceptance makes us acknowledge the bad times and be grateful for every experience:
When we have acceptance, we don’t make hue and cry for things that went wrong, or were never under our control.
We make peace with the times, situations and people, by saying with gritted teeth, “Thank you for this experience. It was tough but I survived, and learned lessons, that I could have never learned without having this experience. I am stronger now.”
6. Self-acceptance paves way for peace and contentment in life:
Acceptance helps us to grow, it makes us humble, and emotionally mature as an individual. We are no longer hostile to new changes, and become more open-minded to newer experiences in life.
You no longer stress why your friends aren’t talking to you as they would back in school, or feel bad watching others working their dream job, marry and have kids. While you are still studying or making small success at the business you just started.
Because you understand, that everybody will make progress at a different pace, and stressing or feeling jealous or insecure will only cause you trouble.
Sometimes adversity can kick start the journey to Self-acceptance
When you are drowning in deep waters, you don’t have anything to lose. So you place your bet on yourself, and don’t fear losing your old self to rise like a phoenix.
Since hard times teaches you the best lessons on how to survive, it sharpens you, and you make desperate attempts to reach the shore in order to be alive.
How to practice Self-acceptance:
You cannot force self-acceptance, it isn’t something that will happen by exerting pressure on yourself, or by constantly repeating a mantra, or positive words.
Self-acceptance can only be achieved if you have the patience and time, which you can give, and reserve for your personal growth. Since you need to dive deep into your soul, and heal the wounds.
While understanding that sometimes, wounds leave scars which you cannot wipe off, but you can embrace them like battle scars.
The journey to self-acceptance is long. You might take time to open your mind to things, you were ignoring or were forced to believe by your loved ones as your shortcomings. Or you feel that you were programmed like this, and it’s your true personality that will stick to you forever.
Therefore, you might find it a bit inconvenient, and even absurd to work on self-acceptance, as you are in a denial mode.
So here’s How you can Kick-start the journey to Self-acceptance:
1. Start with self-enquiry:
When I was little maybe seven years old, one day a thought struck my mind, that whatever I think about myself inside my head, is my self-enquiry, and my secret messages that nobody else can hear.
Since I have grown up under the guidance of strict parents, it was always difficult and even impossible to share my thoughts and feelings with them. As a child, it was the most uncomfortable feeling ever to purposely avoid interaction with your caregivers, since they didn’t want to hear anything of that sort.
When I realized I have so much freedom to enquire things on my own. I felt humans beings are like God inside their minds, who can create anything, and destroy anything with their thoughts.
After which self-enquiry became a part of my journey, and I strongly believe self-acceptance can’t be achieved without enquiring your own ‘self.’
Why Self-enquiry is an Importance part of Self-acceptance:
- Self-inquiry helps you to know yourself better,
- It allows you to ask questions that you are afraid of facing,
- Self-inquiry kills prejudice that you have for yourself, and things, or situations that will never occur.
- It makes you comfortable in accepting your personality, your general worth, and your limitations on which you need to work on.
- Sometimes self-inquiry saves you from having bad experiences with people or situations, because you talked yourself out from that situation, and understood why that person, job wasn’t good for you.
So have self-talk with yourself to know, why do you feel bad about yourself, who shovelled these negative feelings in your head— it could be your abusive parents, nosy relatives, the way you perceive the society or even yourself.
As I said above you can either be a God or demon inside your head. So choose what you want to be, and monitor the thoughts and messages that you are sending yourself.
2. Remove all distractions to make room for Self-realisation:
Take charge of your life, don’t wait for self-realization to happen by sitting under a tree, and meditating for hours only to find out— it can calm you down.
Because for getting struck with realisation, you need to work from scratch. And to do that, you need to let go off of ill habits, and addictions, and distractions that you have been enslaved by.
Start your journey alone:
Whenever you start your journey to self-realization, don’t carry your entourage along like your, friends, well-wishers, romantic partner, or people you idolize, and keep asking for validation.
Its your journey, and if you keep complaining your peers about your life, and situations. At some point, they too will be dreaded by your calls, and will tell you to take action asap. Save your time, and don’t fear the change.
Removing all your distractions whether good or bad could make you feel isolated at first. But isolation and loneliness are the best teachers, that teaches you how to stay strong when nobody is with you.
The biggest triumph is celebrating victory over bad times.
So turn off your social media, and leave behind petty things like— who is doing what on social media, or hiding from energy vampires, who keep asking personal questions, that gives anxiety to you.
Silence can be Painful when you are addicted to Chaos:
Initially, you might struggle to accept the sudden peace, that came from eliminating the stressors from life. This quaint period will make you realize, how much time you have in hand to work on yourself, your dreams, and life.
Do appreciate yourself for creating such a peaceful environment for yourself to contemplate, and embrace solitude. Because then you will have many realizations, as your energy is in complete harmony with the environment.
3. Make an action plan:
When we start any project or work for example building your dream house, you start with a full-proof action plan. You find the best, and experienced architect in town, and get your house map done from him.
So in order to start with your journey to self-acceptance, you must make an action plan, which you can do by exposing yourself to situations, and things you fear the most. Or by initiating a self-talk, and by ignoring the negative voices that devour your precious time.
4. Face the Fears:
One cannot challenge his fear if he is comfortable with being comfortable. In order to face your fear, you must bare yourself to the situation unarmed, and unguarded, with nobody on your side to fan your ego.
If you don’t expose yourself to the things you fear, you will keep fearing the unknown. The anxiety that comes from thinking about that problem, or putting yourself into that situation.
If you won’t face the situation, you will never know— how much capable and strong you are. So don’t overthink and take the plunge.
We all have different fears, and one cannot image how much psychological damage it can cause. Because we can’t tell someone that we are unhappy with ourselves. When we ourselves aren’t taking any action to bring self-acceptance in our heart.
So take action, do your karma, and when you will face your fear you’ll definitely be relieved. So push yourself to go out and challenge yourself if you want to outnumber your fears.
“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”
5. Connect with yourself through Journaling:
Writing is a therapeutic activity. This is why our parents, grandfathers, and mothers indulged in daily writing. As a way to keep their emotions locked in their secret little diary, where nobody can disturb or intrude. You can be completely vulnerable, and write what you actually feel without having to edit your emotions.
If you develop the habit of daily journaling, you will not only understand yourself better, but will also connect with yourself, which will make your journey to self-acceptance delightful, and smooth.
As you will be able to keep track of small yet significant changes. By writing you heart out, you will become aware of what really matters, and what parts of you need to be fixed by self-acceptance and care.
Some of the advantages of Journaling are:
- Daily journaling acts as a stress reliever since you are releasing your pent up emotions in a creative way.
- Appreciating yourself, and writing positive notes to yourself elevates your mood, which makes your day go well.
- When you will start journaling you will identify negative thoughts before they get inked on the paper. This will help you to prioritize problems, fears, and concerns.
- Journaling helps you to embrace your personality, and gives you the ability to have fun with it. So write your way to freedom.
6. Self-help, Be your friend and not a Critic:
Soften a bit, and be gentle with yourself. Whenever you turn inwards for help don’t ignore your emotions or try to distract yourself. Be your friend and not a critic.
“Our whole spiritual transformation brings us to the point where we realise that in our own being. We are enough.”
So let go off the judgmental self and be kind to yourself.
7. Live your Life with Discipline:
The journey to self-acceptance doesn’t end here, you have to keep practicing it like a routine. If you want to be contented in your life, then start developing acceptance for yourself. Because we think of ourselves more than we think of our problems.
Build a routine that involves mindful activities, and hobbies that you enjoy immersing in. Wake up early to see the rising sun, exercise, and eat healthily. To feel good on the inside, start taking care of your mind, body, and soul.
Years ago, when I graduated from school, I started waking up late around 9: 15 am. And even though I enjoyed the freedom of not getting up at sharp 5:30 am, and brushing my teeth in complete silence, watching the greenery swamping my garden.
I realised, I kinda missed that, and started having dull thoughts about myself, because my routine was sluggish.
Since most of my time was depleting in lazing around, and catching up with friends on text messages. I felt wasted, thinking, “What progress am I making? I am clearly spoiling myself by discontinuing the good habits, and routine that I developed, which never felt like a burden until today.”
I was hit with this realisation many years ago, and it is as fresh as it was that day. Which always motivates me to stay active, and to live my life with discipline.
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Let thy by spirit be high in love. Namaste