In this article, we examine the role of Self Acceptance as a crucial stepping stone towards healthy Self Esteem. We outline a key strategy towards developing Self Acceptance, without compromising the drive for Self Improvement.
- Defining Self Esteem
- Understanding Self Esteem
Individuals with low Self Esteem have difficulties accepting their true Self. They have been conditioned to find happiness in the future after achieving an Ideal Self, and therefore are constantly under the influence of negative thought patterns & negative emotions. A key shift in perspective is required related to Self Acceptance – accepting the Self as is, while working towards your goals, realizing that your Ideal Self is an illusion. You are what you will ever be, and you are enough. One needs a new perspective towards one’s flaws.
Self Acceptance is not a verbal affirmation. You cannot just say that you accept yourself as is, and voila – you have fixed your Self Esteem.
Self Acceptance, just like Self Esteem, is an incremental process. You build upon it, adding layers of gradually accepting what you cannot change, & changing what does not align with your True Self.
Path towards Self Acceptance
Lets take a look at a strategy for moving towards Self Acceptance. Here are the five key challenges to self Acceptance, and how to address these challenges:
- Defining your Self through your Flaws – People with low Self Esteem tend to define themselves through their flaws. The truths any personality flaw is just an attribute. It does not completely define you. You are more than any or a summation of your personality or behavioural attributes. Redefine your flaws as attributes & decouple them from the Self, since these are always changeable.
- Perception of Deficiencies / Flaws – Your flaws are not applicable universally, without context. People with low self esteem tend to take on their flaws on to the Self, without any context. The truth is that every personality or behavioural flaw has a context to it. Attempt to limit the scope of your flaws with a suitable context.
- Weightage of Deficiencies / flaws – Another tendency highly self critical people have is the overemphasis on the negative aspects of an attribute without looking at any of the positive side affects. Perhaps it is due to conditioning. More than often it is when one’s parents were overcritical about that aspect. Re-evaluate your flaws taking into consideration any positive side effects.
- Evaluate desired change – A key element of effective Self Acceptance is one’s ability to drive behavioural changes so that one can limit the negative effects of the flaws. Evaluate what aspects of an attribute you want to change, and what aspects you’d like to keep. As an example, if you feel you are too lazy, decide to wake up early and go for a run 3 days a week. The other 4 days sleep in, enjoy & accept your laziness without any remorse or self loathing.
- Finally, Change what you don’t want to accept, accept what you cannot change. And continue through this cycle.
This cycle will gradually lead to high levels of Self Acceptance, without compromising your drive for Self Improvement.
Self Awareness Questions
- Choose one flaw / attribute of yourself that you do not like. Try not to pick an unhealthy habit.
- Identify the pros & cons of this attribute.
- Increase specificity, reduce scope. Decide if you still do not like it?