Practise self-acceptance by being kind to yourself, asking a friend to remind you of your strengths, and spending quiet time alone.
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Self-acceptance – being kind to yourself and believing you’re fine as you are – was the biggest predictor of how satisfied you are with your life overall in research carried out by our friends at Action for Happiness.
But guess what? In its study of ten “happiness habits”, self-acceptance was actually the least likely of the ten to be demonstrated by the survey’s respondents.
So in short, although accepting yourself as you are, warts and all, is a major key to happiness, most of us are really very poor at it.
In some ways I’m not that surprised. With a few exceptions I don’t know many people who are as kind to themselves as they are to others. In some cases, sometimes me included, they’re actually so beastly to themselves that if they behaved that way with their friends they wouldn’t have many left.
So how do you and I become less self-loathing, more self-loving? Action for Happiness offers three helpful suggestions:
1. Be as kind to yourself as you are to others. See your mistakes as opportunities to learn. Notice things you do well, however small.
2. Ask a trusted friend or colleague to tell you what your strengths are or what they value about you.
3. Spend some quiet time by yourself. Tune in to how you’re feeling inside and try to be at peace with who you are.
Check out the Action for Happiness research findings.
To them I’d add one further thought. If you either have a child or were to have one, I think you’d expect to love them unconditionally. Even to your own necessarily-biased eye they may not be perfect, but you’d love them for who they are. Wouldn’t you?
So now imagine being the parent of your own inner child, and show that same unconditional, uncriticising, unwavering love to yourself.
Loving yourself is a pretty important pre-requisite to being loved by others.