The Importance of Self-Acceptance, Self-Love, and Self-Compassion
We often set standards for ourselves that are too high because society expects us to be perfect. We forget that everybody has flaws, even the people we perceive to be perfect. But who decides what is perfect? Who sets the standards we feel we need to live up to?
Self-acceptance, self-love, and self-compassion are essential for our overall health and happiness. These attributes affect not only our mental and emotional health but also our physical health in very real and concrete ways. While it may sound “out there” or “woo-woo”, when we don’t accept ourselves fully, we are ever so subtly cutting ourselves off from the life force energy that gives and sustains life. It happens on a very subtle level, but over time this disconnection from the full potential of life force connection can manifest with concrete health issues.
Think of it another way. When there are parts of ourselves that we don’t accept, we are literally warring with ourselves internally. And when both parties in that war are actually parts of you, guess who loses, regardless of the outcome?
We all have flaws – that’s what makes us human. Everybody makes mistakes – that is the only way we can learn and grow. Accepting our flaws and forgiving ourselves for mistakes, or put another way, reconciling all those conflicting parts in us is crucial to our health and happiness, and to generally achieving our greatest potential as humans.
Health Issues Arise When We Don’t Accept Ourselves
Since judging ourselves harshly actually constricts and generally lowers the qi in our body, it can play a role in virtually all manner of physical, mental, and emotional health problems. Here are just a few examples:
- Lower self-acceptance causes a higher rate of oxidative stress which can set many health problems in motion, like cardiovascular disease.
- Denying who you are can result in low self-esteem. When pushing yourself to be someone else you’ll feel like you’re living a lie and a life that’s not your own. If you ignore your inner voice telling you to just be who you are, unhappiness will become overwhelming. When we lack happiness and joy in our lives, we are missing out on a big source of nourishment.
- You may develop a victim mentality from believing what others say about you or tell you how you should act. In the end, you’ll serve someone else’s agenda and not your own.
- Not accepting yourself will result in not trusting yourself, which will impact self-confidence. Self-pity and self-hate are natural next steps. These inhibit growth and improvement.
- All of the above can set anxiety and depression in motion.
- These issues can often result in overeating or eating unhealthy comfort food, which can cause serious health problems, including obesity.
- Lack of self-acceptance often leads to inactivity. When we judge ourselves we often lack the ability to motivate to do things that we know are good for us, like exercise, getting good sleep and eating nutritious foods.
Why Do We Lack Self-Acceptance?
Lack of self-acceptance is rampant in our modern society. Feeling like we need to be a certain way, or look a certain way to gain acceptance is everywhere. I think on some level, we all have work to do on this front. We develop self-acceptance, self-love, and self-compassion issues if we are not accepted and loved unconditionally as a child by people near to us, like parents, grandparents, siblings, and teachers. If we grow up with someone trying to change us, it makes us think there is something wrong with us and we need to be someone else. This isn’t to say that these people are to blame. We need to of course remember that they were doing the best they could.
What Happens When We Accept Ourselves?
When we decide to accept and love ourselves, all kinds of good things start to happen. Here is a list of positive results:
- Understanding who we are and knowing what we want.
- Knowing our strengths and weaknesses.
- Being comfortable in our own skin.
- Being able to face the challenges in our life and succeed with what we pursue.
- Being at ease with other people and being able to talk in public or in front of a group.
- No more shyness or fear.
- Valuing ourselves, which will make others respect us.
- Being less judgmental towards others, accepting and even having compassion for others.
- Stronger healthier body
- Deeper and more loving relationships
- Clearer, quieter, and happier mind
Self-acceptance is the first step towards self-improvement – emotional, mental, and physical.
How Can We Start to Accept, Love, and Have Compassion for Ourselves?
Addressing our self-acceptance issues may not be easy at first, but the result will be rewarding. First set your intention to focus on accepting yourself more fully. Recognize and forgive yourself for any shortcomings in this area in the past. Always approach this subject through a lense of compassion and gentleness. Start to notice how you treat yourself. Imagine that there is a young child inside you that just wants to be heard and taken care of, and to be loved and acceptance.
Here are some ideas on what you can do to move towards self-acceptance, self-love, and self-compassion:
- Take the time to discover who you are, what you value, and what you like or don’t like. Find time with no distractions to just sit quietly and tune into yourself and what your heart desires.
- Understand and accept that you will have what you perceive as both positive and negative qualities, and that this is okay and part of being human. And remember that everyone else does too.
- Acknowledge the things that you don’t like about yourself and take positive steps towards improvement.
- Analyze why you want to be someone else and envision how your life could be if you embraced your imperfections.
- Stop comparing yourself to others – everybody has insecurities and flaws. You have strengths that other “perfect” people wish they had.
- Continuously remind yourself of your unique abilities and talents.
- Accept compliments people give you as the truth.
- Give yourself permission to be, to fail, to think, and to do.
Take the First Step
Embrace yourself, no matter who you are, which flaws you have, or mistakes you’ve made in the past. Today can be the day you can change your life forever and live a life that feels happy and fulfilling.
If you’re not quite sure how to take that first step towards accepting yourself, you are welcome to get in contact with me. I provide a safe place in my practice where we can openly talk about these issues, and work on connecting to a higher sense of self-love and compassion and achieve the things you want in life.