Last updated on May 14th, 2020
Have you ever found yourself in a situation when something is disturbing your life, you need to seek advice to unburden your heart and you get to hear those cliche words instead ‘accept yourself and everything would fall into the place’? Isn’t it painful? Is self-acceptance as much easy as philosophers ask it to practice every time whenever you need life advice?
Meaning Of Self-Acceptance
In simple words, self-acceptance means to accept your life, reality, all of your attributes (both positive and negative), your skills and the everything about you the way it is. It teaches you to accept yourself the way you are.
According to Wikipedia, self-acceptance in psychology means one’s happiness with oneself, self-awareness of strengths and weaknesses and self-understanding of accepting them the way they are. It is also considered a necessary practice for good mental health and well-being.
In Hindi, self-acceptance meaning is आत्म स्वीकृति which also explains that how you should develop self-acceptance and accept yourself happily and unconditionally.
But it is a little different from self-esteem. Self-acceptance is being honest yourself, analyzing your strengths and weaknesses and accepting them without any grudges. It is developing an attitude and courage to see your imperfections without berating yourself. While self-esteem is the confidence you gain by self-acceptance. In short, self-esteem is more like an achievement and self-acceptance also involves the process of gaining self-confidence and accepting your reality the way it is.
Why Is It So Hard To Practice Self-Acceptance?
The words like ‘accept yourself’, ‘accept your reality’ and ‘let go of what you can not control’ sounds easy but the process of following them is much more difficult. Practising self-acceptance is difficult because your pain serves as a reminder of the struggle you have gone through to become what you are today. The pieces of your broken heart don’t let you find happiness in the present particularly when you are still on a fight.
I understand this because I have also witnessed heartbreaks, rejection, losses and a prolonged disease in the past recent years that suffered me like a hell. While I often remind others to stay calm and find peace and contentment within, I know it doesn’t soothe an aching heart to receive ‘finding happiness within and accepting your reality‘ advice in challenging circumstances.
Importance & Benefits Of Self-Acceptance
Self-acceptance is the key to happiness and success. You can realize its importance once you have it and know its benefits.
- Self-love and acceptance teach you how to accept yourself the way you are. It makes you courageous. When you start to accept your imperfections, you develop a different attitude towards yourself. Your perception to see the world changes and everything changes with it. Self-confidence leads you to success and happiness.
- Accepting yourself can improve your self-esteem. The confidence you gain by improving self-acceptance also improves your self-esteem.
- You will be surprised to know how self-acceptance can improve your relationship with others. It’s quite simple actually. When you are happy, you make others happy. You become more focused to build relationships.
- Self-acceptance and mental health go together. Therefore, all the gurus around the world to practice to gain self-acceptance for your good mental health and well-being.
- It promotes the sense of freedom, positive mindset, self-help, self-actualization, forgiveness, self-esteem and self-worth.
- Value yourself: How I recognized my self-worth
- 40 positive things to say to yourself every day
- How to eliminate negative thoughts when it seems impossible
- Losing your peace of mind? Figure out why you are not happy
How To Practice Self-Acceptance
Undoubtedly, the acceptance is necessary for happiness and bringing harmony in life. Although it’s a bitter truth, you have to learn life will impose itself upon you each time and you have to deal with its ordeals with patience. If you ever think to yourself, “I can’t tolerate this anymore,” you probably need to change the ways to deal with struggles so you can embrace your reality more easily and let go of what is outside your control.
In this article, I have compiled a list of 11 tips and ways to practice self-acceptance which I still find useful during my tough times. Practice one or more of them to change your outlook towards a situation, learn how to accept yourself unconditionally, accept your reality and find peace even at difficult times.
1. Accept Your Reality, Not The Wrong Things
This is very important. Because most people often confuse the acceptance of the current situation with the acceptance of everything bad happening to them. They just don’t fight for themselves for the sake of destiny. Because destiny is something for them which they can not change and have to accept at any cost.
If you are one of them, you have to learn when to resist and when to accept. Please note that you are not destined to accept toxic relationships, abuse, bullying, and other heinous acts. You must not accept domestic violence considering it as your reality. Address your situation “you have this war to fight against the violence” and accept this reality, not the “domestic violence”.
Also, the acceptance of your weaknesses hinders your progress. If you have certain weaknesses like low confidence or fear for something, you need to accept the fact instead, you have those weaknesses. Once you are aware of them, you can work towards turning them into your strengths.
Acceptance doesn’t mean to fall victim to a bad situation at all, rather it is the act of courage to fight for yourself, realize your weaknesses and remove them. You are a warrior and have certain wars to fight and it’s your reality. You have to stand up against the bad things happening to you, not the bad reality. Embrace the reality you are stuck in and find ways to get rid of it.
2. Begin By Developing A Positive Attitude
I am narrating two stories here to explain how a positive mind increases your power of acceptance.
Story 1: Only one month was left for Aditi’s marriage. She had planned big things for her marriage and scheduled the things accordingly. Here came a twist, just a month before her marriage, she met with an accident and was prescribed 15-days bed rest due to her injuries. But her marriage took place on a fixed date because of a supportive family and fiance. Owing to a leg injury, she could not dance and had to cancel her other wedding plans too. On the wedding day, this was the only thing running on her mind:
“How unlucky I am, nothing ever happens as per my plans!”
Story 2: In the same accident, her office colleague, Anu, who had joined the office recently, was also injured more severely than Aditi. Anu hailed from a poor family so all the savings of her father were spent on her operation. She was also prescribed bed rest but for six months. She also had nobody to take regular care of her, because she has only a father in the family who used to be ill.
But, during her bed rest, she thanked God and said,
“How lucky I am, God, Thanks for this new life! You saved me, I will start a new life now. I would apply for a new job if I couldn’t resume the old one!”
You have understood by now how a negative attitude stops you from accepting your reality. There is a famous quote, “Change your attitude, not aptitude that determines your altitude”. Therefore, develop a positive attitude, because a positive mind easily gets ready to find positive even out of a difficult situation.
3. Consider ‘Self-Acceptance’ As A Self-Development Tool
Accepting yourself is often considered a sign of weakness. Some people think self-acceptance is bad because it stops your growth. But going deeper into this, you would find, accepting any reality or situation is a matter of courage. Even if it’s a loss of your loved one, a rejection or a state of depression, the earlier you accept your situation, the sooner you can find the ways to reach a solution. You can use it as a tool of self-improvement and personal growth.
For example- if you have lost a loved one, accept your feelings. Don’t be cruel to yourself by burying down the volcano of those intense grief emotions inside your heart. Reach out to a friend, health professional or a psychologist, if needed. Engage yourself in fulfilling what expectations they had from you like their dreams to see you as a more responsible or a successful person.
Similarly, if you are unhappy with your shape, channelize your negative energy towards exercising rather than feeling miserable all the time. If you are being rude to yourself for the way how you look, accept your uniqueness. Always remember, you are the only one of your kind there.
4. Remember You Can Always Change Your Destiny
They say “You Become What You Believe”. If you can believe, changing destiny is at your hands, then you can change it as well.
Look, no amount of resistance or anger can change your present situation. Your denial will only hurt you and turn you into a bitter person. What makes a difference is to take steps to change your current reality and keep a fighting spirit within you even through all the pain.
When you take responsibility to write your destiny by yourself, you will see there are a lot of opportunities waiting for you. The feeling of being the owner of your destiny fills you with new confidence which helps you accept your reality eventually.
5. Listen To Your Desires, Experiences
In this step, you have to know your inner experiences, as well as, your desires. Analyze carefully, what is troubling you the most, which unfulfilled dreams or bad experiences are holding you back to accept things and enjoy your current reality.
Once you figure out they are painful, you can then at least find ways to cope with them and comfort yourself as effectively as possible.
If you are unhappy with some aspect of yourself, you would benefit from finding the solution or planning for a goal to fulfil those desires.
When you set a goal, you start putting your efforts to accomplish them. Once those efforts give you the desired results, you accept and nurture your current self.
6. Find Your Motivation In A Negative Situation
It’s a real challenge to stay in the course when life is throwing a punch at you. It’s true, without turning your focus onto your goal, your dreams will only be dreams. For their execution, you somehow have to find the motivation which keeps you encouraged even in a bad situation.
In the digital world, motivation is everywhere around you, but I read somewhere real motivation comes from within. And it’s true. A motivating video can make you feel good for the time being, but you are likely to turn negative over and again. So, find your motivation. Set a principle, a mantra, an emotion or an experience that can make you work even in pain and kill the procrastination.
That motivation mantra will boost your self-confidence, and keep your mind occupied with the hope for a better future. This hope becomes the biggest motivating factor to dilute the bitterness buried deep down somewhere in your heart owing to your current situation. This hope helps you accept your reality.
The one mantra that I found the most useful is if you are demotivated and dissatisfied with your situation, work with double force without worrying much about the results. Because, your situation is bound to change if you work honestly, forgetting everything else.
7. Accept Your Fears To Accept Your Reality
One of the biggest challenges we face to accept our situation is our fear of failures. Fear of failures comes from a lack of patience. So, to overcome fear, we have to develop the patience to wait for the right time. Because it is the patience that determines how we look at the situation.
If you don’t have patience, your mind is not composed and a disturbed mind sees only negative out of every situation. It is very much prone to resistance and creating turbulence.
To develop patience, you have to remind yourself every day that things take time to show results after their execution. If you are working on a goal, you have to take risks, make mistakes and fail multiple times. A big goal always demands a lot of persistence, hard work, and strong will power.
Therefore, accept your failures and accept your reality. Accept that there are hundreds of paths, out of them, there is only one right path that will lead you to your destiny. Now, to find that right path, you must have to travel those hundred paths leaving all your fear behind.
Since finding the right path is worth your patience, don’t let this delay make you restless, impatient and fearful. Develop the patience to wait for the right time, let go of your fears and get peace of mind.
8. Don’t Let Them Judge Your Situation
Even if you have made mistakes or even blunders, never let anyone judge your situation and make you live with the guilt. Because they are only humans, and humans are to make mistakes, and this is called human nature. Leave this act of judgment up to the Universe because the Universe has its ways to return the things to you.
This thought sets you free. You don’t unnecessarily compare yourself to other people. You accept that everybody’s life is different. Even if the Universe takes something from you, it forgives too. Unlike humans, it gives other opportunities as well to change your destiny.
When you realize this, you are likely to accept your reality with a light heart. Remember, you are not in any race with anyone. If you are making efforts, you will get rewards as well but at the right time, neither sooner, nor later.
Don’t allow the remarks of people to develop hatred for yourself. Avoid self-criticism by appreciating yourself every morning. You have worked hard to come this far, which is the most important thing worth celebrating yourself.
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9. Believe It’s Going To Hurt Less
When you are distressed, you don’t believe in the right things that may happen to you in your future. You perceive the world with your glasses of fear, sadness, and negativity. But here you forget a universal truth, “Change is the law of nature.”
Nothing is permanent. The situation, however worse it may look at this moment is going to change one day. It is not going to hurt you the same way as it is hurting today. Things may take time but they will change for sure. You are going to find peace, healing and everything you deserve. Just have faith.
Remember, the situation which is seeming negative today may dramatically take a positive turn tomorrow. Maybe a person to whom you had to say goodbye today, is destined to be with you after few years, or maybe you collect the courage to let go of that person and find someone better in time to come.
If you fill your mind with this faith, it would help you find immense peace in the current reality and accept the things the way they are.
10. Understand The Principle Of Karma
Try to understand the law of Karma which sets us free from any kind of worry and fear. “Karm Karo, Fal ki Chinta mat Karo” —it is mentioned in Bhagavad Gita and still we forget to follow this golden principle.
This principle teaches us how we can control only our Karma, not its result. Taking steps is the most important thing and that’s the only thing which in our hands. So, whatever you do, do it with utmost elegance. Leave the rest up to nature which is very efficient in doing its duty and giving you the result of your Karma.
No matter what has happened in your past, if you start adding efforts today, if you begin working for your goals today, they are going to give fruits tomorrow. That’s the definite law of the universe. And all the universal laws are eternal and true as there is no doubt that the Sun rises in the east and sets in the west.
Following this principle of Karma soothes your anxiety and helps you accept your reality. And you can work for your future more efficiently with a conflict-free mind.
11. Take Self-Acceptance Test
Now, in this last step, you should take this test. It’s self-acceptance questionnaire. It tells you how much you have become ready to accept yourself. Ask yourself these questions. Answers you already know if you have read this article carefully.
- Can I accept myself whether I win or lose?
- Do I need to prove myself to celebrate my original self?
- Are the failures going to make me lose my self-worth?
- Do my mistakes stop me feeling good about myself?
- Am I letting them judge me because of my current situations?
- Do I seek approval to love myself?
- Am I happy with the way I look?
- Are my regrets ruining my present?
- Do my imperfections stop me love the way I look?
5 powerful Self-Acceptance Quotes
These are my favourite quotes on self-acceptance that help me to accept the reality of my life.
- “I have always been better at caring for and looking after others than I have been at caring for myself. But in these later years, I have made progress. – Carl Rogers
- “When you create yourself to make it you’re going to have to either let that creation go and take a chance on being loved or hated for who you are…or you’re gonna have to kill who you are and fall into your grave grasping onto a character that you never were.” – Jim Carrey
- “Self-Acceptance is my refusal to be in an adversarial relationship with myself.” – Nathaniel Branden
- “The thing that is hard, and amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself.” – Anna Quindlen
- When we are anxious and fretting, we are less inclined to be loving or accepting of ourselves. Our inner critic or inner perfectionist demands that we get over it. Immediately. We stand in judgement of ourselves. Yet that is very moment when we need self-acceptance the most. – Anonymous
11 Positive Affirmations For Self-Acceptance
- I’m not an evil soul when I refuse to forgive someone, this is just temporarily my way to release painful emotions.
- It’s okay to cry, it doesn’t show I am a weak person.
- I am not an astrologer who can see the future, so I won’t hate myself for making mistakes.
- Success is good but it doesn’t define my self-worth. I accept myself even if I fail.
- I can fail sometimes, my failure doesn’t make me a bad person.
- I don’t need to make excuses to accept my mistakes. I can learn from them and grow.
- It’s okay to not know everything, it’s okay to act like a fool sometimes. I am not superhuman.
- Anxiety can have gifts too. I don’t need to mask my feelings caused by anxiety.
- I may be dependent upon someone for practical things, but I don’t have to depend on others for emotional support.
- It’s okay to feel low when I am sad. I don’t have to get anxious for having anxiety episodes.
- I can blame myself for my carelessness, mistakes and silliness but without berating myself.
Books on Self-Acceptance
- What To Say When You Talk To Yourself- by Helmstetter
Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha– by Tara Brach
Accepting yourself and your reality is indeed a daunting task in which many fail every day. But, your regrets and anger would not help you. You have to keep making efforts to find peace in your current reality.
Think about what you did to handle an unpleasant situation you went through last time. Write your thoughts on paper, listen to your experiences and learn when to resist and when to accept.
Acceptance is not something you can learn in the blink of an eye. It is a long-time effort that makes you stronger and a better person. In between, you realize how far you have come and things don’t hurt much now as they used to be. You find yourself mature enough to face any kind of situation.
I hope you found this list of ways useful to accept your reality the way it is. Do you have any different, unique, or new way that helped you accept your situation and find peace? Do share it in the comment below.
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