Accepting ourself is easy when things are going well. It becomes more challenging when we make a mistake or things go wrong.
Understanding unconditional self-acceptance
A person with self-acceptance doesn’t feel less than someone else because they failed or have flaws; neither do they feel better than others because they have succeeded or have strengths.
Those with low self-acceptance want to be different, dislike qualities about themselves, and have higher levels of anxiety and depression, and lower feelings of positivity.
We are constantly evaluating ourself. Internally this links to beliefs we equate to what is valuable. Externally there may be standards we compare ourself to, and again use to rate ourself.
Unconditional self-acceptance means we take an objective view of internal and external influences. This isn’t taking an easy way out, letting ourself off, or missing opportunities to grow. It separates these things from our value as a person.
Society perpetuates images suggesting we should have everything under control, look perfect, and generally have life worked out. The influence of the media reinforces perceptions of what good looks like, and stories of people achieving amazing things.
We need to separate ourself from this as a way of measuring our worth and our self-acceptance. We are not the labels we put on ourselves. The clue is in the words, ‘unconditional’ self-acceptance is not conditional or contingent on anything.
“Wanting to be someone else is a waste of the person you are”
Accepting our value
Accepting ourself doesn’t mean there aren’t flaws to address, strengths we want to build, or things we would like to do differently. It is about accepting who and where we are now and growing from that place.
Unconditional self-acceptance is not about becoming anything, it is about non-judgementally acknowledging and accepting who we are, our actions and qualities – good and bad.
We are not the labels we put on ourself. If I fail at something, that does not make me a failure.
Developing greater self-acceptance
Unconditional self-acceptance is different for each of us.
- An employee who struggles to meet the goals set by a demanding boss may accept themself by accepting that sometimes we will fail to deliver, but that they can still be a good person even when we fail.
- Someone going through a relationship breakdown who feels like a failure because of it, might experience self-acceptance as acknowledging that they made some mistakes and that the relationship failed, but that does not make them a failure.
Techniques to work towards unconditional self-acceptance start with noticing thoughts in a non-judgmental way. We are then able to challenge them and reframe them.
Practicing unconditional self-acceptance enables growth from the perspective of recognising our worth and being our authentic self. Growth from a place of care and support, rather than low self-worth and self-judgment, is a much nicer process.
It means we look in the mirror and accept all elements of ourself.
Doing things differently:
Notice your thoughts. If they are critical or negative challenge them – what would you say to a friend who was having these thoughts?
- Separate the thoughts from the facts. Recognise the facts as separate to who you are and decide what action to take.
- Reframe the thoughts to a positive perspective that acknowledges the mistake but separates the mistake from your sense of worth.
This article was written by Marion Hewitt one of our partner coaches who is helping her clients to value and appreciate themselves, develop greater self-kindness and optimise their natural strengths, for better outcomes
You can get in touch via her profile page, visiting her website https://proteasolutions.co.uk/ .
April 21, 2023