Last week we talked about the 4 steps to self-forgiveness. We discussed that mistakes are simply a part of being human. It is normal to judge yourself when you make a mistake - it’s how we improve, and it prevents us from repeating mistakes in the future. But when we over-identify with our perceived failures, it lowers our self-esteem and even our ability to do better.
The culture we were raised in too often judges us for simply being human. We tend to develop a strong inner critic over time, especially if we grew up being told that we were either "too much" or "not enough". We learned to believe that we could only be accepted or loved if we met certain conditions. We internalize these criticisms, and buy into limiting beliefs that we can't be accepted as we are.
Self-acceptance means embracing our entire being, positive and negative traits and all. It is a sort of a middle place between self-loathing and self-confidence, where we are simply aware of all that is without attaching ourselves to "I am good" or "I am bad"...it's the place where we can simply state "I am who I am, and that is enough".
When you are able to accept yourself, you can face challenges without being discouraged because you realize that negative experiences aren’t representative of your whole life or who you are as a person.
Self-acceptance takes work and practice, but it isn't a journey. It is something to be practiced in the moment. Thinking “when I fix this or that, I will finally accept myself” doesn't work, because it puts conditions on us, again. We are telling ourselves that we are not worthy of self-acceptance until we meet those conditions. Essentially, we are re-victimizing ourselves.
So, how can we practice self-acceptance?
#1 - Mindfulness & Mindful Meditation
Mindfulness is a great way to find self-acceptance, because we are being with what is, right now. This is especially useful regarding body image. We can be mindful of how our body looks and feels right now, without attaching criticism or judgement. Which bring us to our second method of practicing self-acceptance...
#2 - Self-Compassion
When we notice ourselves being critical, we can take the time to question ourselves and choose to be nicer instead! Practicing the physical postures of yoga is a wonderful opportunity to do this, as we often find ourselves testing our limits. We can either beat ourselves up for not being able to achieve a certain pose, or we can recognize the value in trying and accepting where we are at in the process.
#3 - Journaling
Journaling can help us to dive into our limiting beliefs and emotions. We might even find ourselves exploring things that we didn't know were holding us back! You might try jotting down what comes to mind when you think about the parts of yourself that are harder to accept. Why do you think this is? Give it a try and see what you come up with!
Do you feel that self-acceptance is difficult for you? What types of things are hardest for you to accept? Past mistakes? Personality traits? Body-image? Chronic illness? Aging? Let me know in the comments, I would love to discuss!