Helping you get through tough times

4 steps towards self-acceptance

When people struggle with a lack of self-confidence, self-esteem, or self-worth, it can make just about everything in life harder.

A coffee cup that says 'note to self, I'm hot' on itIt’s not uncommon for people to compare themselves to others or feel disappointed in themselves. Such beliefs can develop for many different reasons, including bullying or trauma. But there’s not always an obvious reason why we feel this way.

Below are a few tips put together by one young writer to help us all learn to be OK with ourselves.

1. Befriend yourself

Try to be objective and look at yourself as you would a best friend. If you’re capable of empathy, care, compassion, love even, for them, then why not do the same for yourself?

By fighting against our negative thoughts and feelings we give them greater strength and control. If we can manage to allow the thought or emotion to just ‘be’ it can be easier to let go of it.

2. Acknowledge your feelings

Take a look at what you’re thinking or feeling, and acknowledge it. For example, “I feel bitter, angry, sad, or happy and excited”. Try looking at the emotion as it is, regardless of whether it’s positive or negative.

This can take a little getting used to and it’s perfectly normal to:

  • experience a jumble of things at once
  • not know exactly how you are thinking or feeling 
  • still have your ‘censorship’ head on, your in-built belief that things ‘should’ or ‘shouldn’t’ be said, thought or felt.

Acknowledgement takes courage and is an ongoing process. Sometimes it’s easy, and sometimes it’s not. Both are OK.

3. Accept your feelings

Whatever you’ve acknowledged, whether it’s positive or negative, try to accept it. This can be hard to deal with for a couple of reasons:

  • resistance – it’s not easy to accept certain things about ourselves, especially if they’re unpleasant
  • habit – it’s easy to push emotions or unwanted thoughts to the back of your mind, until they surface and get the run of you, but just noticing this behaviour and accepting it will help too.

4. Give up the struggle

We often think everything in life must be fought for, or struggled with, otherwise it’s not worth it. Letting go of the internal fight isn’t giving up though, it’s just one way of helping to mind our mental health.

We can try to look at our thoughts, feelings, short-comings and flaws without judgement. They’re just feelings, they’re not us and they’re not permanent. Knowing this can help make it all a bit less exhausting. 

The original piece was on My Mind Matters and was drawn from an article by someone identified as ‘Gareth’. In his article, Gareth referred to a book called, Learning to Love Yourself, by Dr Gay Hendricks. Some elements of this book are summarised and presented in this article.

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