Getting to Self-Love and Acceptance


Loving and accepting others come naturally, yet giving the same attention to yourself is one of the most struggled with area for most people. We can accept little (or big) flaws in those who we love, then why are we so incredible hard and over-critical of ourselves?
The societal norm of being your own worst critic is widely accepted now, and even celebrated in some circumstances, as a way to strive for that illusory perfection. There’s nothing new to say that environment dictates most of our attitudes and behavior, but, in ever increasing pressure to conform and follow societal and self-imposed rules, it robs us from the most important gift you can give yourself – love and acceptance.
I was seating across one of my clients yesterday, talking how far she’s come in the 3 years of therapy with me, though she had a hard time seeing all the incredible progress she was able to make in her life instead concentrating on what still needs to be accomplished. And she had even harder time to see yourself as a beautiful and strong young woman as she truly is.
Feeling worthy of your own love and accept yourself exactly as you are is one of the most important inner processes an individual can work on, but, without it, no other accomplishments and life achievements will ever be true gains worth striving for.
Each person should find their own ways that are helpful and beneficial on this self-discovery and self-acceptance process. Here are 7 tips I can offer that may help you on this journey.

1. Accept yourself as a whole person.
Spend some time to explore who you really are as a person, actually, spend as much time as you need to get to know yourself. This is the most important part of the journey as you can’t really accept yourself if you don’t know who you truly are. Learn about your personality traits, both good and the ones that need to be worked on. Learn what makes your Spirit alive and what robs it of its light. Know where your weak points lie and what adequate coping techniques you can employ to mitigate the overall influence. And, once you got acquainted with yourself, accept that absolutely all parts of you are there to fulfill their purpose and the combination of them makes you unique and extraordinary in a way that no snowflakes are alike, and each of them is beautiful despite of or because of their own little imperfections.

2. Acknowledge your feelings and experience them fully.
Reflect on how you really feel about certain parts of yourself and as a whole person, and acknowledge how particular people or situations make you view yourself. Be honest about the exact emotions that arise, don’t run from them. Immerse your whole being in each wave as it comes and allow it to unfold fully yet remain an observer. Don’t fight it in a fear of being dragged under, be like a surf-rider, let each wave to flow as it needs to but stay upright and present in a moment. Feelings are just visitors and you are the host, you have the ultimate control how long each guest stays. Yet not allowing them to even enter the threshold of your dwelling and make their presence known for a while, runs a danger that they’ll come back with a vengeance, at a time you least expect it and in a way that is much more damaging than letting them in as they come.

3. Switch self-talk to encouragement and acceptance.
We all know of that critical chatter always running like a teleprompter through our mind. It’s often harsh, self-depreciating and over-exaggerating of our faults. We’d never talk to others that way we sometimes address ourselves. We’d be very mindful, respectful and accepting of individual differences and opinions yet we can’t give ourselves the same benefit. So what’s the issue and how can we change it? Negative thoughts are a formed cognitive pattern that stems from nature, nurture and personal attitudes : we are very much influenced by our innate personality traits, the environment we were raised in and how we perceived the world to be plus our current views on life and ourselves. Spending time in the past to examine how your thought process was formed and what personal and familial influences went into making who you are today is the first step on a path of self-acceptance. Changing that mind chatter requires both persistent cognitive restructuring (challenging the validity and switching negative thoughts to more positive ones) and exposure to people and environment that support, and not undermine, your newly-found beliefs.

4. Eliminate negativity from your life.
This sounds like a no-brainer, yet it’s one of the most difficult ones to do as it entails some loss of either things, people or environment, and we, especially living in a modern society, are programmed to accumulate rather than eliminate. Take a closer look at your life, are their belongings that take up too much space or are you spending money on unnecessary things, thus not having enough for what you actually need, for both body and soul? Are their people, no matter how near and dear, who put you down, don’t honor your needs or take advantage of you? Are you constantly in an environment that is toxic and robs your energy and spirit? No matter how scary and disorienting any change can be, letting yourself to remain in these situations is undermining your progress on a road of self-love. Yes, not everything negative can be completely eliminated; sometimes we need to remain in certain places or with certain people for a time being, though the perceived necessity is subjective and often skewed due to fear of the unknown. Letting go of either some benefits, comforts or familiar relationships may be the only way you can move through and become your true self.

5. Focus on wholeness and integrate your inner and outer development.
No matter how much you may work on your inner self, if your body and mind are not taken care of, no true wholeness can be reached. Start with the basics and get adequate sleep, nutrition, exercise, intellectual stimulation and relaxation. Make sure your work / personal life ratio is balanced; leave time for hobbies, new explorations and ample social interactions with family and friends and other people who bring positive influences in your life. Declutter your home and your work environment getting rid of the actual unnecessary things and time / energy robbing activities.

6. Be patient yet be disciplined too.
Not all things are going to work out at a time and exactly the way you want them to, actually, some things will not work out at all. Some endeavors require continuous effort and dedication, and some other ones need to be reviewed for feasibility and a likely outcome factors. Have faith that what needs to happen will indeed materialize in its own perfect timing. In retrospect, much of what never came to be would not be to our best interest to begin with. Know that no mistakes are errors per se but rather lessons and opportunities for growth. Outline and structure your priorities, yet do it in the most beneficial way for yourself keeping in mind the wholeness approach we reviewed in #5, and be disciplined to follow through and keep up with it along the way. Consistency is much more important than the actual time spent on each activity. Dedication to what’s valuable in your life is honoring your own needs and investing in yourself.

7. Spend enough time in solitude.
Being alone is not the same as being lonely; the former is a conscious choice while the latter is an assumed circumstance. Reflection and inner work can only happen if we remove ourselves, even if for short periods of time, from chaos of the modern environment and superficial social interactions and give way to introspection and relevant self-explorations. This last tip is strongly tied to the first one of taking a road trip to discover your true self. Spend time trying new things or the old ones that you thought you loved; maybe you only stuck with them because you perceived them as necessary or were influenced by other people. Dive deep into your inner core and dedicate time to a meditative process of harmonizing and balancing different parts of yourself. Allow silence to aid your heart and soul in quieting the mind and showing you what your true essence really is. Watch yourself to emerge out of the cocoon as a transformed butterfly and into the world of your own creation.

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