Many people are searching for acceptance outside of themselves when they haven’t yet learned to accept themselves. Self-acceptance means being okay with WHO you are and WHERE you are. It means being kind to yourself even when you make mistakes, fail, or do really stupid things. Self-acceptance is a close relative to self-esteem. It is difficult to have one without the other, and, if you have one, you will tend to have the other.
There are many reasons why people have low self-acceptance, but most fall into one or more the following areas:
- A perceived desire to be perfect
- A focus on imperfections rather than on blessings
- The desire for approval and to be liked
- A strong desire to please others
- An extraordinary concern for other people’s opinions and views about you
- Feeling inadequate due to some perceived lack of ability or skill
- Emotional immaturity
To accept yourself fully is to recognize that not everyone you meet will like you and that you will never be perfect. You may be excellent at something, but never perfect. No matter how good you get, you are not finished making mistakes or doing foolish things. Falling is natural; not getting up is the problem. A happy and contented life is not about what happens and why, but rather about how you deal with setbacks.
The key to gaining self-acceptance is to recognize that you are engaged in a process of continual learning. Former U.S. Senate Minority Leader Everett Dirksen once said, “I am a man of principle, and my first principle is a willingness to change my mind.” If your self-talk has not been one of fully accepting yourself, you have the option of changing the conversation. It is your most important responsibility.
Tip: To lead a truly happy life, you must focus on self-acceptance. No matter what your perceived shortcomings or setbacks, it is possible to change your internal dialogue and learn to accept (and be happy with) yourself.
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