Now that the New Year is in full swing, you may be one of the millions of people who have started a resolution to eat better, exercise more and/or lose weight. Why? Often it’s not necessarily because we want to improve our health but more about not accepting of who we are and how we look.
This definition of self-acceptance I found states, “an individual’s satisfaction or happiness with oneself and is thought to be necessary for good mental health. Self-acceptance involves self-understanding, a realistic, albeit subjective, awareness of one’s strengths and weaknesses.”
My understanding of self-acceptance means loving and accepting yourself, flaws and all. How many times have you, or someone you know gone on a diet, set really good intentions, meal prepped, and set a workout routine. You do really well for a few weeks, but then find yourself going to the gym less often, eating more foods that were not part of the “diet”, and begin telling yourself things like, “I just can never stick to a plan”, or “here I go again, eating like a pig. No wonder I never lose any weight!”.
Those words and thoughts can be so incredibly damaging to our mindset and to our soul! To really get to a place of self-acceptance we must learn to stop judging ourselves so harshly. Letting go of guilt and learning to forgive ourselves for our transgressions is the path to self-compassion and self-acceptance. Being self-accepting allows for an understanding of who we are, even in the areas that we still need to work on. So stop blaming yourself!! You can take full responsibility for your actions and still love who you are.
A few practices to consider as you begin to learn more self-acceptance.
1. Be quietly aware.
When you can spend a few quiet minutes during the day to become aware of any thoughts, feelings, and actions that are coming up, you begin to understand and develop a sense of self-awareness. Having an honest sense of self begins the journey to self-acceptance. Don’t worry about what comes up. If you notice negative thoughts, feelings or actions just allow them all to be present. Welcome and accept everything you are noticing. They are all ok.
2. Daily positive affirmations.
This seems so simple, yet can be one of the most difficult things for people to do. I know there were times in my life I’d try to say things like, “you are beautiful’ and I just couldn’t believe it. When you are at a place of self-loathing or have been in such a depressed emotional state, it takes time…and a lot of practice! Repeating this practice over and over until you really believe it is often necessary. I love the mantra, “Fake it, till you make it”! Even if you don’t always believe what you are saying, say those affirmations anyway. Being in a positive emotional state creates a different emotional connection in your brain and over time you begin to start to believe what you are telling yourself. Now, I truly believe it’s important to start out having these affirmations in a place where you see them every day. So whether you write them in a journal that you look at every night, or post them on sticky notes on your bathroom mirror (my personal favorite) make sure they are something you can visualize until you begin to internalize.
3. Send healing energy to yourself.
By this I mean, place your hand(s) on part of our body we don’t accept. Again, repeat the phrase, I love you, I accept you as you are and you are beautiful. For instance, if you really cannot stand the look of your belly. Stand in front of a mirror, place your hands on your stomach and repeat the mantra above. When you place your hands on an area and say loving words, you are sending very different energy to that place in your body and positive energy and thoughts bring positive feelings, thus self-acceptance.
4. Stop comparing yourself to others.
When we get into the comparison trap, we move away from self-acceptance and into self-hatred. Often when we are comparing ourselves “I’m not good enough”, “they do xyz better than me”, “I’ll never be able to _____ like they do”, “she’s more beautiful than me” and on and on. Allow yourself a pass. You are not perfect, no one is. If you are not where you want to be with your health, your career, your relationships; just give yourself the grace to be on the journey of discovery. We are always learning and can choose to grow from that knowledge.
5. Practice gratitude.
It is known that you cannot be grateful and angry at the same time. Just try to! So next time you feel like you are beating yourself up, and catch yourself saying those nasty messages to yourself, turn it around and be grateful for the path you are on and how much it is teaching you. Be grateful that you have a body that moves and has amazing capabilities, even if it’s not everything you want at this time. Be grateful for the relationships you have in your life and for the ones you are still working on. Starting a gratitude journal is a great way to begin to consciously practice gratitude and move towards greater self-acceptance.
Once you learn self-acceptance, you will be allowed to understand more of who you are. You will find greater happiness, and stop judging yourself with harsh compliment. With those practices, I really want you to be a better person, not only for yourself but for people around you!