It’s just been the last few years that I understood the concept of self-acceptance. Last week, I touched on the body shaming that I’m exposed to at the markets where I sell my products. Which got me to thinking…if you’re ashamed of your body, isn’t that a huge part of not accepting yourself?
It is indeed part of accepting yourself.
But disliking your own body is just the tip of the iceberg. The subject of self-acceptance (and its’ opposite, self-loathing) causes many an eye-roll especially from those who think the entire concept is ridiculous.
As a holistic life coach, I’ve learned just how amazing life is when you practice self-acceptance.
#1. Self-Acceptance Leads to More Peace
You are a human being and all human beings have faults and pasts and things we’re not proud of and mistakes and heartbreaks and grief – you get the picture. Showing compassion and not judging yourself so harshly allows you to release some of the stress in your life.
Okay – so you did something stupid. How does obsessing over it help? Would you REALLY tell your best friend how stupid she is if she did the same thing? So why do you beat the living snot out of yourself for being human?
If there’s anyone who’s a pro at beating the snot out of themselves, it’s me. My theory was that if I beat myself up first, then you couldn’t hurt me any worse than what I’ve already done.
Accept that you’re less than perfect and not every single day will be stellar – allow yourself this much and you’ll find your stress level greatly reduced which invites more peace.
#2 Self-Acceptance Leads to Less Judgement
Sometimes, we’re so busy judging if what we have right now is good or bad that we don’t stop to enjoy life in this moment. We compare ourselves to the wonderful (albeit false) social media life that we believe everyone has except us. It may be tough, but sometimes simply accepting where you’re at in life helps you see the beauty that is around you at this moment. And when you can see the beauty from moment to moment, you’re far less likely to judge yourself – or anyone else – with a hardened heart.
Harsh and negative judgement about yourself (or others) is like trying to control a two year old having a temper tantrum in the middle of a crowded store. Your every thought is completely driven by emotion and hatred of what’s going on at this moment.
- I shouldn’t have done ________. I’m so stupid!
- That was a lousy decision and now look at my miserable life!
- Of course he won’t call back – can I be any more boring?
- I could just kick myself for saying _________. How could I have lost control like that?
In writing for PsychologyToday.com, Leon F. Seltzer, PhD, says:
To become more self-accepting, we must start by telling ourselves (repeatedly and–hopefully–with ever-increasing conviction) that given all of our negatively biased self-referencing beliefs, we’ve done the best we possibly could. In this light, we need to re-examine residual feelings of guilt, as well as our many self-criticisms and put-downs. We must ask ourselves specifically what it is we don’t accept about ourselves and, as agents of our own healing, bring compassion and understanding to each aspect of self-rejection or denial. By doing so, we can begin to dissolve exaggerated feelings of guilt and shame based on standards that simply didn’t mirror what could realistically be expected of us at the time.
There’s a pattern here that’s sometimes hard to break because you simply aren’t aware of what you’re doing – it’s become a habit. Simply stop what you’re doing and take a deep breath. To help change this habit, see what’s around you in this moment that you can accept with some measure of grace. Remember, nobody has the perfect life – nobody at all!
#3 Self-Acceptance Leads to Finding The Right People for YOU
Not only am I a middle child but I spent a lifetime being a people pleaser. Therefore, I became the person everyone else wanted me to be. I wanted to be liked and I wanted desperately to fit in. My opinions were not accepted so I became critical, exhausted, defensive, fearful – and the worst – feeling like a fraud. I completely lost my real self because I wanted to please everyone on my path. When you live in your own integrity – live the right life for you – the right people always come into your life.
People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime. They fill a need you have, to teach you a lesson or to teach you to grow as a human being. Look around at the people in your life. What does their collective presence tell you? Are you in mostly satisfying relationships? Do you have more than your share of toxic relationships?
At one point in my life, every single relationship in my daily life was in a complete shambles. I had reached the point of total burn out and there was no relief in sight. Over the course of about three months, I looked at who I was – who I REALLY was. And I didn’t know Melissa at all. The face staring back at me in the mirror was in pain because I just wanted to fit in with people that weren’t really right for me. I blew in whatever direction the wind blew because I wanted to be accepted. I never was accepted for the real me because I didn’t accept the real me. When I stepped out of the box people had put me in, those relationships completely fell apart.
My tribe – those beautiful souls who are right for me – consists of less than 10 people. In that group, there’s kindness, honesty, compassion – and the best part of all? When my light was so dim, it was this very small circle of friends who saw my light for me.
I have learned to accept and love my quirks. I’m brave, wise, feisty, sassy, compassionate, opinionated, and warm. I refuse to dim my light to make someone else feel comfortable.
When you accept yourself, you will find the right friends – the right people will show up in your life.
#4 Self-Acceptance Leads to More Energy
When you don’t accept who you really are, you tend to focus on everyone else around you. You spend so much time worrying about what everyone thinks, how to make them happy, how to fit in and how to be accepted that you don’t have time for anything else. And that includes taking care of yourself.
You can’t give someone a drink from an empty cup. When you’re tired, frustrated and maybe even lost your way, your energy is sapped. There’s no joy in life and there’s nothing left over for you. When you accept exactly who you are – warts and all – then you don’t have to hide or spend time denying the real you.
Condemning the parts of yourself that you cannot accept eats away at your self-esteem and in turn, your energy. This isn’t to say that you ignore or make excuses for poor behavior. It simply means you don’t apologize for taking up space on the planet. You are a beautiful soul and there’s no need to hide your light or apologize for being who you are!
#5 Self-Acceptance Leads to Setting Healthy Boundaries
How many times have you said yes to something that you really didn’t want to do? You really want to say no, but somebody’s feelings are hurt, and now you feel bad and unacceptable.
You have a right to personal boundaries and truthfully, it’s your responsibility to teach people how to treat you. Your needs and desires are every bit as important as the next guy. If something doesn’t fit with your life, your time or your ethics, simply – and respectfully – say “No, thank you.” It’s a complete sentence and you don’t owe anyone an explanation. Period.
Setting healthy boundaries allows you to put yourself first and make decisions that are right for you. If there are some who get angry and choose not to be in your life, see point number 3 above.
Where Does Holistic Life Coaching Fit In?
I’ve learned some hard lessons along the way by not accepting the real person I am. Through the wisdom of holistic life coaching, I learned just how valuable a human being I am. My paradigms have changed, and I’ve learned to accept who I am without becoming a punching bag for the self-help industry.
Let’s talk today. Take a moment to fill out a short contact form and let’s get started.