Mark Twain once said, “The worst loneliness is to not be comfortable with yourself.” He couldn’t be more right. If you finally accept yourself and your flaws, your life will be much less burdensome.
So what is the antidote to self judgement? We think it is the art of radical self acceptance. Accepting who you are and building on that. Self-acceptance is the ability to accept yourself as you are instead of how you wish you were, or how you wish others percieved you. It frees you from an overly high concern with what other people think about you.
Why is Self-Acceptance important?
The feelings of shame and unworthiness are the source of many problems we experience with our relationships, careers, and creative endeavours. Self-acceptance is the feeling of satisfaction with yourself despite your weaknesses and regardless of your past behaviours and choices. It’s necessary for good mental health.
When we’re self-accepting, we’re able to embrace all facets of ourselves — not just the positive parts. Self-acceptance could be the key to a happier life, yet it’s the happy habit many people practice the least.
In one of our favourite books, “Happiness Now”, Robert Holden talks about how self-acceptance determines your level of happiness. The more self-acceptance you have, the more happiness you’ll allow yourself to accept, receive and enjoy. In other words, you enjoy as much happiness as you believe you’re worthy of.
For many people we know in our life, self-acceptance is truly a great struggle. They consistently doubt themselves. And with more doubt comes even more negative thoughts about themselves. And more negative thoughts can quickly become your reality.
The bitter is, we will never be free of the feelings of despair, or self-loathing. The good news is, we don’t have to identify with these emotional feelings. You can accept them and still focus on being the best version of yourself.
Let’s now understand the perspective of experts on self-acceptance.
Jeffrey Sumber, Psychotherapist, says that it is vital that we set an intention for ourselves that we are willing to shift paradigms from a world of blame, doubt and shame to a world of allowance, tolerance, acceptance and trust. It’s not possible that self-loathing or poor self-acceptance will lead to a satisfying life.
Fortunately, self-acceptance is something we can nurture. See it as a skill you can practice versus an innate trait you either have or don’t.
Learning self-acceptance teaches you to focus your mind to provide self-pardon, rather than repeating fear-provoking habits self-judgment.
If you are having a tough time accepting yourself, hone your strengths. Pay more attention to things you are good at.
You can even go a step further by writing your abilities down. This puts things in perspective for you. Start with something basic like “I’m a kind person.” If you are having trouble coming up with things you are great at, ask your friends and colleagues to help you. Sometimes, the people close to us are better at noticing our greatest strengths. Don’t force to write everything at a single sitting. Typically, lists evolve with time. Another kind of list is a list to boost your confidence and appreciate how far you’ve come. Make a list of all the hardships you’ve overcome, all the goals you’ve accomplished, all the connections you’ve made, and all the lives you’ve touched for the better. Keep it close by, review it frequently, and add to it often.
Remember, reading about making lists and thinking about making lists is not the same as ACTUALLY sitting down and makings lists.
Why is it important to remove self-loathing out of your system?
Negative emotions generally require more thinking, and the information is processed more thoroughly than positive ones. Typical human behaviour focuses on negative qualities. People who judge themselves harshly process negative emotions more than negative ones. That means they spend more time contemplating the bad stuff and less time on the good stuff. We are much better collectors of our shortcomings than our strengths. This can easily become a cycle that becomes difficult to break.
Getting through life happily requires us to understand the balance of positive and negative emotions and work towards accepting ourselves and still become the best versions of ourselves.
Practising self-acceptance requires that you develop more self-compassion. One of the greatest gifts you can give yourself is self-acceptance.
In the words of psychologist Tara Brach: “Imperfection is not our personal problem – it is a natural part of existing. The boundary to what we can accept is the boundary to our freedom.”