This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure for more info.
Moving toward self-acceptance is an essential ingredient to taking better care of yourself. In life, you choose to grow or to stagnate. It’s entirely up to you. However, if you start accepting yourself more, you’ll set yourself up to experience life more satisfyingly than if you are harsh on yourself and don’t accept yourself.
Accepting yourself unconditionally, including the parts you know you need to improve, is essential to helping you succeed in life, especially finding contentment and happiness. If you’re not accepting of yourself, it’ll be extremely hard to be happy.
Thankfully, you can find and practice self-acceptance even while you’re still struggling with finding yourself and knowing who you are – just because you exist now – the struggle will catapult you into a life that you’re excited to live and enjoy.
To move toward self-acceptance, it’s important to understand that you are a work in progress, your actions do not define you, and that judgment has no place in your relationships with others or yourself. Additionally, learning to see things from a new perspective while accepting things you cannot change is always helpful.
You Are a Work in Progress
Your life, much like a long-running television series, is a work in progress because there will never be a time that you are done until you are dead and buried. Like the TV series, no one is finished growing until they cannot grow anymore. You’re only finished when your life is completed. Until that time, you’re still in progress, changing and growing every day.
- You’re Not Finished — If you are alive, you still have a chance to do something amazing and reach all your goals. Life is flexible, pliable, and buildable if you know what you want, how to get it, and do the things necessary to get what you want.
- You Can Improve – Since you’re a work in progress, you can improve upon any aspect or area of your life anytime you want to. Since perfection doesn’t exist, improvement is never-ending. How exciting is that thought? So, what if you failed math in ninth grade? You can do better now because you know more about how to learn.
- Mistakes Aren’t Fatal – When you accept that you’re learning and will make mistakes due to being a work in progress, you realize that mistakes aren’t fatal. It doesn’t mean you’ll purposely do things wrong, but it does mean that if you make a mistake, you know over time you can recover from it, which makes you much more apt to succeed since you won’t hold back due to fear.
- Change is Okay – When you are a work in progress, the other thing that becomes clearer is that change is okay. Not only is change OK, but it’s also good. So, for example, if you thought you wanted to be a teacher when you were eleven but after you graduate college at twenty-two, you realize teaching isn’t for you, you’ll feel confident enough to make that change without worrying about judgment from others.
Accepting yourself as a work in progress will free you to keep growing, improving, and changing as a person. Expressing your thoughts about your life when you’re eighty-five is quite different from how you express your life today. That’s okay because as you learn and understand more about yourself and the world.
You Are Not Your Actions
Did you know that perfection only exists as a word with a meaning? No one is perfect. Nothing is perfect. Sometimes we don’t live up to our best version of ourselves. If you have a difficult day and don’t get all your work done, you’re not lazy. If you bomb a test, you’re not a failure. If you let your child down, you’re not a bad parent. Being busy doesn’t make you a good or bad person; it just makes you busy. Being busy isn’t a value system.
Early Lessons Learned
Early in life, you begin to learn that your actions define you to other people. Adults may have used negative words or taken actions to change their behavior. This may have made you believe that you had to act a certain way to be accepted. While they didn’t intend this to be the lesson you learned, that’s how your inner child interpreted it. You learned that people judge you by what you do and how you behave.
You Are More Than That
You are so much more than your actions. The problem with that line of thinking is that your self-esteem will take a nosedive if you make a mistake (and you will). But no one is perfect. Everyone has made bad choices and done something wrong. Also, if you change your perspective, and your actions, now who are you?
Actions Define Character
Your actions may demonstrate your character, but only in one moment in time, which may not be a true representation of yourself. The truth is how you treat yourself and others are really who you are, and the good news is that how you present yourself can change as you learn who you want to be and how to be that person.
That’s why your actions don’t define you because you can change how you act even though you’re the same person. Just like your job, relationship, hobbies, haircut, or anything else you do does not define you.
Letting go of what people say you are so that you can find your authentic self is a difficult but worthy goal. But the other result is that when you realize that what you do does not define you, change becomes easier, and so does finding empathy for others since it’s easy to accept now that no one is perfect and that they are a whole person even if they stop doing whatever they’re doing today.
Stop Being Judgmental
When you judge others, you may discover that you also judge yourself harshly. But, unfortunately, being judgmental doesn’t effect change either. Most judgmental people are often disrespectful to others which is usually a defense mechanism designed to be protective but sadly, being judgmental doesn’t protect you. Instead, it harms you and everyone around you.
- Become More Self-Aware – One way to become more self-aware is to reflect on your feelings and thoughts before, during, and after every situation you find yourself in. Plus, take the time to read books and information about human nature.
- Note Your Judgment Triggers – Being more self-aware requires you to be more mindful about your triggers and the actions you take once triggered. If you can identify triggers that bring on your judgment, you can stop it in its tracks.
- Practice Empathy – We all do things that other people believe are weird, annoying, or even wrong. However, if it’s not against the law or their morals, it’s not your concern. Remember a time you were misunderstood based on a choice you made? Then, think about how that feels. Even if you don’t understand fully, try to give others the benefit of the doubt. Remember how you wanted that benefit of the doubt at one time? Most people appreciate your empathy and kindness.
- Reframe Your Thoughts – When you notice the judgmental thought going through your head, stop it and reframe it. For example, if your virtual assistant is turning in less quality work than they used to, consider whether something else is wrong and ask them instead of judging them as lazy or stupid. “I’ve noticed you’ve seemed a little off lately, is everything okay at home or with work?”
- Exercise Acceptance – Even if you cannot understand others’ choices, it’s important to find acceptance for what you cannot change. Remember, even if it is something dangerous or harmful (if it’s not illegal), you can’t change it. It doesn’t mean you have to be around them if you disagree morally, but you can still accept them as they are from a distance.
- Make More Connections – The more people you surround yourself with, the more perspectives you’ll have available to challenge your cognitive dissonance and vice versa. It’s dangerous to surround yourself with an echo chamber or people who look up to you so much that they will agree with you even when you are going against your morals, principles, and values.
- Show Yourself Some Compassion – No one is perfect, and sometimes we all fail to live up to our best idea of ourselves. However, if you are practicing getting it right, accepting what you can or cannot control, staying cognizant of your path, loving yourself, and accepting yourself as you are right now as a work in progress is essential.
Being judgmental of others always winds up falling on your shoulders because the outer judgment is usually much quieter than the inner judgment. So, if you feel judgmental frequently you may not be as self-accepting as you thought. Thankfully, this is something you can control, work on, and change.
Accept What Cannot Be Changed
A harsh reality in life is that you aren’t in control of everything. Learning to accept that you can’t change everything is difficult, especially if you’re an action-taker. But the truth is acceptance of what cannot be changed – even if you hate the outcome – has many benefits, including cultivating a positive attitude, reducing stress, and developing a greater appreciation for what is right and good in your life. To accept what you cannot change, consider the following approaches.
- Determine Your Sphere of Control – What you have control over in reality versus what you don’t have control over is an important determination to make. But, if you’re unclear, you only have control over your actions and nothing else.
- Identify Your Fears – Often, the inability to accept facts is a fear-based reaction. If you can figure out what you’re scared of, if you accept the fact that you cannot change something of which you have no control, find out what you’re afraid of.
- Focus on Problem Solving – If the situation causes a problem for you or someone else – yet you cannot change it – instead, focus on finding solutions that enable you to deal with the facts of it.
- Develop a Plan – Planning the actions you’ll take once you are in acceptance that you can’t change the situation will result in actions that move you forward instead of running you in circles.
- Use Positive Affirmations – As you devote your time to real solutions in your control, practicing stating or writing down positive thoughts will help you keep positive feelings even as you deal with an unchangeable situation that you may not like.
When you accept what cannot be changed, something amazing will happen. Suddenly you can focus on taking action that impacts instead of accomplishing nothing by fighting something you have no control over.
Change Your Perspective
When you face a trial in life that challenges your values, it’s important to try to see the situation from a new perspective. Learning to accept what cannot be changed and moving on with your life often happens after adjusting your perspective. Sometimes, change takes a lot of work, but it’s worth it. To change your perspective, use the following suggestions to get started.
- Understand Yourself and Human Nature – The more you know about yourself and can state and demonstrate your morals, principles, and values clearly, it’s not that hard to change your perspective when needed. The main reason is that as you learn about yourself, you’re also learning about human nature. When you understand human nature, you’ll communicate and interact with other folks and yourself with much more acceptance.
- Know Your Objective(s) – Setting strong short-term and long-term goals with clear action steps toward success will help you keep your head on straight as you navigate the situation and develop a better understanding. For example, if you’re arguing with a loved one, is your goal to be right or to show compassion and make your relationship stronger?
- Expand Your Community – If you genuinely want other perspectives in life, you need to surround yourself with many different folks and not just an echo chamber. Just because you think you disagree with someone doesn’t mean they can’t offer value to you.
- Look At the Impact of Your Actions – One way to place value on your actions is to figure out what the impact is. The more you focus on the impact of your efforts, the better choices you’ll make going forward.
- Seek Winning Solutions – If you can find a solution for a problem that makes everyone feel like a winner, you’re doing an excellent job. Win/Win solutions often incorporate elements that address multiple issues, rather than just one issue.
- Let Go of “all or nothing” Thinking – Most things aren’t just one way. Instead, most matters have nuance, requiring reading between the lines and not just looking at it as either on or off, or black or white.
- Put Yourself In Someone Else’s Shoes – If your disagreement is with a person placing yourself in their shoes means that you try to look at the situation from their perspective based on their beliefs, morals, and values and not yours.
- Get Support – If you really want to challenge your perspective and change it, it helps to have friends, family, and colleagues who have your best interest at heart and who will confront you if needed.
- Ask The Experts – One of the absolute best ways to challenge your perception is to find true experts and ask them for their thoughts. When you ask experts for help and information, it’s important to verify that they are experts due to education, training, and experience, not just because they decided to call themselves one. In addition, they need to base their ideas on common industry or community facts and consensus and not opinions.
Your ability to change your perspective is a vital component of self-acceptance. It’s important that you not just accept others as there are and situations you can’t control, but also accept yourself, including your feelings about all the above. Change is possible. Humanity’s resilience over our long history shows that people can and do change, which can happen quickly once understanding has occurred.
Becoming more self-accepting is a process just as much as anything else you want to accomplish in life. First, you must learn the truth of the situation and figure out the solutions available to you. The good news is that self-acceptance will lead to increased self-worth over time.
Increased self-worth will lead you to take charge of what you can control and let go of what you can’t control. Your heightened self-worth also helps you find the right solutions for problems you face, in a way that makes you feel contented and good about yourself. You are an imperfect being who’s truly in training to learn, grow, and become who you most want to become.
Related Article: What is Self-Acceptance?