Self-Acceptance sounds very appealing, doesn’t it? Self-Acceptance is the ability to accept yourself as you are; this includes awareness of your strengths and weaknesses, your situations, and your thoughts and feelings. It frees you from concerns with how others perceive you. Who wouldn’t want more of that?
Due to this Pandemic I have found myself, like many of you, binge watching new shows. I recently starting watching something called “Alone” on National Geographic. For those who aren’t familiar, they drop 10 people off in the middle of nowhere and whoever lasts the longest without “tapping out” wins a bunch of money. They are each completely alone with nature and only have a limited number of tools and supplies at their disposure. What I have found to be interesting (besides learning what all a human can actually eat) is that many of them give up due to mental and not physical limitations. One of the participants who has demonstrated the ability to make it quite a long time, stated that you must really like yourself in order to be alone this long and be OK.
That statement immediately brought me back to an Acceptance and Integration Training® (AAIT™) Principle:
Self-Acceptance is a means and measure of Well-being.
Those who seem to be more successful in this crazy show are able to not only utilize very impressive survival skills but are mentally able to handle being completely alone. Now I am not suggesting we all go try to hide in the woods to see how self-accepting we are. But I will say being in this current situation with the Pandemic has certainly isolated many of us in ways we never expected. It has forced us to spend more time alone with our thoughts and feelings. This is definitely an opportunity for us to spend time really asking ourselves a few questions:
How comfortable am I with myself?
How aware am I of my own strengths and weaknesses?
How accepting am I of my current life situation?
How much time do I spend concerned with how others view me?
According to Carl Jung: “We cannot change anything unless we accept it.” I believe it is essential in order to do any healing work. If this is true, then we cannot change ourselves in any fashion unless we accept ourselves or our situations as they are. This concept is heavily utilized in the 12-step model for recovery. The first step addresses the idea of denial and acceptance. One cannot move forward without accepting themselves as having a problem they cannot resolve on their own.
There is also something called the self-discrepancy gap. This is the gap between who we think we are and who we want to be. There is an unhealthy belief that we cannot accept ourselves until we are who we want to be. However, we can accept ourselves as we are and still seek growth. The acceptance dissipates some of the pain/criticism/shame found in the gap.
Self-acceptance allows for growth, it does not inhibit growth.
I believe self-acceptance is foundational to transformation. Self- acceptance requires action on our part, conscious effort put forth to grow more aware of what shapes us, our responses, and our choices. That is another reason why self-acceptance is a means and measure of an individual’s well-being. It is heavily tied to Self-esteem (how much we value ourselves) and to Self-efficacy (how capable we see ourselves).
So how can we begin to practice self-acceptance? Something you can do starting today is become more aware of your emotions. How are you feeling right now reading this blog? Accept however you are feeling. It is that simple. Recognition of how you are feeling allows you to make choices on how to handle those feelings and emotions. I also utilize and teach my clients AAIT techniques that help build Self-Acceptance. If you are interested in learning more about AAIT please reach out and I would be glad to share more.