Why Self-Acceptance Is So Vital To Your Happiness

Personal Development

Almost all of us are guilty of beating ourselves up.

At one point or the other, even the most self-assured person has felt inadequate; not good enough, having fallen short of the ‘ideal’ image of who they think they ought to be.

Without a doubt, it’s never been easy to be at complete peace with yourself– flaws and all. Yet, the ability to fully accept yourself—talents, weirdness, vulnerabilities,—is a key causeway to the experience of happiness.

It’s a childhood thing

Most adults are naturally inclined to be biased against themselves. Self-acceptance is not something that comes naturally to us, because since childhood we are mostly brought up in an environment of conditional acceptance. Parents are usually happy with you when you are good, performing great, on your best behaviour. They won’t hesitate to tell you how disappointed they are with your antisocial behaviour, your dismal performance, your inability to sit still etc. Until the age of 8 years, kids fully derive their sense of self from their caregivers. So you can see that if you were brought up in an environment that did not affirm your ‘okay-ness’ just as you are, believing and feeling OK as an adult would be quite a challenge.

As children, most of our parents only affirmed our ‘goodness’ when we did something that made them feel good; and our badness was served with the same, if not a larger portion of disaffirmation. Naturally, we grow up only conditionally accepting ourselves. “I am only beautiful if I lose 20 pounds,” “I and others can only be proud of me if I could be more creative,” “I will be happy when I am unique.” This kind of thinking is very much derived from childhood experiences and well-meaning parenting.

Moving toward compassion

Accepting yourself as you starts with practicing compassion and forgiveness toward yourself and others. It is not your fault that you have been so hard on yourself, that you have misjudged yourself constantly. It’s a childhood thing; you did not know any better. In fact, lack of self-acceptance is common to most of humanity. Compassion in this moment is about seeing the larger picture— that you are not the only one struggling to self-accept; a large majority of people are rocking the same boat! But there is a way to finally start practicing self-love.

Saying “Yes” To Yourself

You may have some weaknesses that you do not like much. Instead of loathing yourself, ask yourself whether there is anything you can possibly do to amend those weaknesses. If there is truly something you can do, for example, exercising to get in shape, then by all means, do it. If there is not much you can do about it, you need to come to terms with this fact and start accepting it as part of your goodness.  Cliché as it may sound, you are much more than a career, a home or the clothes you wear. To eliminate the cycle of self-judgement and non-acceptance, partake in this exercise:

Write a list of the things you love about yourself- everything you know you rock at.

Given our steep bias against ourselves, it may feel narcissistic or vain doing this. But, the truth is, once you start focusing on those things you love and appreciate about yourself, the self-judgement will start to gradually dissipate.

What About Self Improvement?

When you accept yourself, you don’t need to improve, right? Wrong.

Often self-improvement comes from a place of inadequacy, lack, self-doubt, “non-okayness.” But there can never be any true self-improvement without self-acceptance.

One reason why many people are unable to successfully replace a bad habit with a good one is that they self-loathe as a result of their weakness (bad habit).  You are at this place saying, “I can only be good enough if I stopped oversleeping.”

Here’s a secret: Try to feel love for your oversleeping self. Difficult as it may be, try to understand your innate goodness, which is present, whether or not you always oversleep. You will be surprised that the act of accepting yourself is the first step toward letting go of the need to sleep too much, or any other habit you may want to replace.

Conclusion

Your happiness is almost always directly proportionate to your ability to accept your deep flaws and your incredible strengths, in the same breath. Look around, some of the happiest, ordinary people are those who have found a way to make peace with their self.

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