Why is Self-Acceptance So Vital to Our Happiness?

Without self-acceptance, we are plagued with low self-esteem, guilt, anxiety, internal judgment, criticism and even possible depression. What is it about self-acceptance that makes such a difference? Let’s delve in and see.

Self-acceptance interrupts the negative

When we embrace self-acceptance, we stop judging ourselves. Our self-criticisms and negative talk stop. A daily regime of negative talk, judgment, criticism, etc. gets internalized to the point that we believe all of it and think we aren’t capable of more. Instead of seeing moments of weakness, we believe we are weak. Instead of recognizing some habits that aren’t helpful, we believe we are deeply flawed. This is a widespread problem, so no one questions it. Instead, we spend hundreds of dollars on self-help books to “fix” ourselves.

But, fixing ourselves never feels like enough. There is always another way to be fixed. We never feel we are enough. We feel broken, wrong, not worthy, there is always another “bad” part of us to overcome. What if, instead, we accept every part of us? Even the messy bits.

Self-acceptance is our natural state

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We are born self-accepting. Babies know what they need and want, and don’t care what someone else thinks of it. I think most everyone loses that along the way. Why? Innate desire to survive. We are born needing to belong. We are hard wired to crave the love, affection, and acceptance of our tribe. If our tribe asks us to change who we are in order to be accepted, we will do it to survive. This may come from family, friends, teachers, or anyone of influence to us. This is a distortion of true belonging though. Belonging, what we crave, is being accepted for who we are. If we have to change, we are fitting in, and that is a poor substitute for belonging.

illustration of drama masks. one smiling, one frowning. self-acceptance

When we warp our true selves to fit in, to be what others want, they aren’t loving us. They are loving a pretend version of us. As mention, this can begin very early. It can begin so early that we aren’t aware we are presenting a false version of ourselves. Some part of us sees it though. Part of our psyche recognizes the sham going on. It sees the falsehood and longs for authenticity. We aren’t happy how society tells us to be. The conscious part of us interprets this as needing to be fixed and so the cycle starts.

We don’t have to conform though, because we aren’t living in a time where it is vital to our survival. We can search out our own tribe and find where we belong. Because of this, we can embrace self-acceptance, stop trying to be someone we aren’t, and not just survive, but thrive.

Self-acceptance validates us

Our true selves, our most authentic selves, are not only positive. Self-acceptance recognizes and even welcomes the acknowledgment of the messy bits too. You can acknowledge that something exists without judging it. Everyone has negative aspects. We don’t have to judge them though. Instead, we can take notice, accept it, and perhaps make plans later to adjust it. There is no need to hate that part of ourselves in the meantime.

It is so much easier to fulfill your needs and take care of yourself when you can see that you are as deserving as anyone else. Your needs are valid.

When we accept all of ourselves and stop judging, all kinds of good things happen. You stop doubting how deserving you are. It is so much easier to fulfill your needs and take care of yourself when you can see that you are as deserving as anyone else. Your needs are valid. You can take time to care for yourself. It is ok to set boundaries for how you will allow yourself to be treated. Your needs for love, affection and attention are valid and deserve to be fulfilled.

Acknowledging your true self and accepting that person, enables us to identify what we want in life. We can nail down our true purpose. When you find self-acceptance, you can hone in on what is important to us as opposed to what others have conditioned us to see as important. They may be the same things, but they shouldn’t be by default.

Self-acceptance gives us ourselves

You want to be able to move forward with goals based on what you, and not others, need and believe. Imagine creating a life in alignment with your truth. You will start feeling more confident in your decisions rather than like you don’t measure up. There will be trust that you are moving in the right direction. You may even find talents and gifts that were buried under who you were “supposed” to be. Being yourself, they can shine.

Acceptance gives you permission to practice kindness with the person you’ve historically been the least kind to: you. If you give it a real try, you’ll see how the criticisms get lighter. Self-doubt shakes off. Shame dissipates. Hating yourself becomes a rare phenomenon. Slowly, your beliefs about yourself shift from less-than to enough, from powerless to empowered.

Self-acceptance is my refusal to be in an adversarial relationship with myself - Nathaniel Branden

With knowing and accepting yourself, this leads to being able to develop more authentic relationships with others. They will know you better, and you, learning how to find even the mess parts of yourself valuable, are able to find more compassion and acceptance for others.

Self-acceptance is powerful and the very foundation of our happiness. I hope I’ve laid out some convincing reasons why. Please comment with any questions or comments you make have. This is a very important conversation to have and to continue.

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