3 tips for self-acceptance

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.

6 thoughts on “3 tips for self-acceptance

  1. Just yesterday, I put up on my wall Action for Happiness’s ‘Ten keys to happier living’! Acceptance (being comfortable with who you are) immediately stood out as being the most problematic for me. It’s far and away my ‘weakest’ point of the ten. Why are so many of us so self-critical?

    The 3 suggestions to combat it make sense to me. I’m working on 1 and 3, but 2, asking a friend to tell you what they value about you, that one is quite scary for me. So, important to try it then.

  2. I think that we all suffer from criticizing ourselves. I didn’t when I was young. I had a plan in mind. I am much older now. I realize that we can only do our best in life. I was dealt a rather bad hand. My mother got sick when I was 9, she died when I was 12. My father had a stroke not long after her death. He was hospitalized, then died. I was told to leave our house by the Government of the day in a week. I asked my friend if I could live at her house. She asked her parents, they said yes. I was a very determined person, then & now. My eldest daughter is 43. I have 3 other children. Became an R.N. worked hard. Adversity is always just around the corner. My dad was left in no man’s land for 4 days & still survived. We just have to get on with life. I wish you well

  3. I recently lost my husband. .3 months today . Every morning I cry..I’m very lonely. Depression and anxiety is my downfall, for most of my life. I have 3 children. 2 married. A beautiful 15 year young daughter. I feel like a terrible mother. She and her father got along do well. I know that it’s going to take time, how much is unpredictable. Sometimes, I don’t think I’ll ever be happy . Until the day I leave this world.

  4. I think that the media, especially advertising, plays a huge and deliberate part in making us feel crap about ourselves; this is especially true in Women’s magazines. An article I read years ago, measured women’s self-esteem before and after reading a woman’s fashion magazine, and it came out measurably less than before reading it. After that, and gawping at a Vogue magazine, and thinking it was little more than soft porn, I stopped regularly looking at or buying women’s magazines.
    In Australia a while back, a woman’s magazine ran a front cover with an ordinary looking woman on it, and the readership loved it and wanted more. However, the advertisers wouldn’t stand for it, and threatened to pull out, so the magazine editor had to comply. No more ‘normal’ looking women were seen again. That illustrated to me that making women feel ‘less than’ is deliberate, and is purely designed to sell more product. If a woman sees an image of woman in a magazine with flawless skin, or hair etc, claiming it’s the result of using some product, then the woman with wrinkly skin, will want some of that. It won’t really make her face less wrinkly, but who cares so long as some product has been sold?
    What’s sad is that advertising, partly driven by gay-owned brands such as Dolce & Gabana, are doing the same for men. Men in ads, are perfectly toned, usually with a six-pack and strong ‘chiseled’ jaw line – with stubble of course – making ordinary guys with ordinary physiques feel inadequate – unless they buy some product. Men’s Health a magazine for men, usually features one of those well-built guys on the front cover, but they admit that their models usually come from the US or Australia, rather than Europe, since the fashion of being well-built has been going longer in those countries.
    So blaming ourselves isn’t the whole point, yes it is up to us to get those negative ideas about ourselves out of our heads, but also avoiding media that deliberately (or not) makes you feel ‘less than’ is a good start to feeling better! And Moodscope and Moodnudges is media that tries to make you feel better, and I enjoy reading the entries most days..

  5. Hello Jon
    I think two things work against our self-acceptance. One is the multitude of voices of past and present telling us what we should be. Depending on how loud and persistent these people were from our past as to how difficult it becomes to accept who we really are. We need to recognise that these are other people’s uncompromising standards and to stop following them unthinkingly, to challenge them by saying ” Whose voice is this?” and “How does this serve me?”

    The other problem we face in being self-accepting I believe is ambition. Again something that our culture imposes upon us. We cannot be happy unless we are improving all the while and becoming more successful. When we don’t reach our dream it is so very likely that the person we blame for this is ourselves. This fuels disappointment and ratchets up our lack of self-acceptance. Our ambitions need to be radically rethought through the lens of what really matters in life. As well as friends and family it also includes being at peace with ‘me’ accepting myself unconditionally.

    Your third point of spending quiet time by yourself has been so good for me. It hasn’t been easy to do because doing nothing is hard work but it has paid off so much.

    Thank you for your blog.


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