Self-acceptance: two words that sound so simple yet can feel incredibly hard to come by!
We accept certain things, like the unfolding of the seasons, unconditionally. So why do we find it so difficult to give ourselves permission to admire the way our own journey is unfolding? We don’t try and pry spring bulbs open before they are ready, or yell at a tree to bear fruit already – things take their own time and we let them. Spring is coming, as it always comes, and we accept this.
Yet self-acceptance is not an automatic or default state. It’s not even an innate trait. But luckily, it is one we can nurture. We now know that lack of self-acceptance is related to lower levels of well-being, and perhaps even mental illness (Vasile, 2013) Essentially, the more self-acceptance we have, the more happiness we’ll allow ourselves to accept, receive and enjoy.
It’s important to acknowledge that acceptance is not resignation. Self-acceptance is meeting yourself where you are now.
It is looking in the mirror and truly accepting the unique, wonderful work-in-progress person staring back at you.
It is allowing yourself to be exactly how you are right now, however messy or on the floor that is, without trying to fix it.
It’s the acceptance of the right now, right here reality.
It is witnessing your current thoughts, feelings and pain – and being with them. And the impact of doing this is profound.
Here are three practical tips that can help with cultivating self-acceptance:
- Make a list of your strengths and past achievements when you are feeling good about yourself so you can re-read them when you’re not feeling so good about yourself.
- Consider who you surround yourself with – ensure your close circle of friends are those who accept you fully for who you are. The more acceptance around you, the easier it is to find within you.
- When the ‘inner critic’ jumps in with unhelpful beliefs, take note and work out what you are blaming yourself for. What language are you using in response to this inner critic? Simply becoming more aware of this will shift your inner responses over time to be more positive and accepting. It helps to imagine you are speaking to someone you love, would you be as harsh to them as you’re being to yourself?
There are many other ways to help with self-acceptance. Learning how to listen inwardly to our own hearts, bodies and minds can have a transformative effect. We teach this through our Listening Spaces.
Becoming more mindful in the present moment also allows us to meet ourselves where we are right now. Scientific studies have shown that when we cultivate—intentionally or unintentionally—emotions of appreciation, love, and compassion our heart rhythms become more more coherent or consistent. It is much easier to find a place of self-acceptance from this coherent heart space.
Below is a free audio practice that will show you how to intentionally shift your heart rhythms to a coherent pattern so that you can increase inner peace and meet yourself where you are, right now.