Do you accept yourself as you are?
That can be a difficult question to answer sometimes. I think as you age, you get better at self-acceptance and becoming comfortable in your own skin.
However, if you’re like me, that question often triggers thoughts about things I’d like to change about myself.
We women, in particular, are incredibly hard on ourselves. We can be insecure, full of self-doubt, and even ashamed, particularly about our looks and our weight.
“Self-acceptance is an invitation to stop trying to change yourself into the person you wish to be, long enough to find out who you really are,” Robert Olden wrote in an article, “How Self-Acceptance Can Crack Open Your Life.”
That sentence made me pause and think.
If we want to gain a positive sense of whom we are and find happiness, then we have to stop judging ourselves so harshly. That doesn’t mean we stop trying to be a better person. It just means that we need to accept our shortcomings and faults as well as our good qualities and our accomplishments. It also means letting go of perfection.
Self-acceptance is a bit different than self-esteem. Self-esteem relates to how we value and respect ourselves. Self-acceptance involves the process of recognizing our weaknesses and limitations, and not letting that knowledge interfere with our ability to accept ourselves fully. That means we accept our bodies even though they don’t look like Sharon Stone or Madonna. We accept that we’re getting wrinkles and parts are starting to sag as we get older. We accept that we’re going to make mistakes. These things don’t mean we’re a bad person. Just human.
Self-acceptance also means that our image of ourselves is not based on other people’s opinions of us. We all run into people who insult us or treat us disrespectfully. However, if we accept ourselves, we will not allow their comments or behavior to destroy us or ruin our happiness.
If we accept ourselves, we’ll stop comparing ourselves to other people. Instead we’ll focus on our own journey of self-discovery and personal growth. Are you a better person than you were a year ago? Are you more loving, kind, wise, healthy, strong, or joyful? Don’t compete with anyone else. Focus on your own progress and accept that there will be bumps in the road along the way.
If we can start accepting our imperfections and embrace our unique, authentic selves, instead of spending time, money and energy trying to change ourselves, we’ll all be happier.