Self-acceptance is up there on the list of elusive and most sought after things in life. Right under a cure for cancer and every right sock in the washing basket. We all want to feel content in ourselves, without wishing we were a little more like somebody else. Whilst we will never shake off our doubts for good, we can figure out how to manage them and learn to foster confidence in ourselves.
Unless you are a leading scientist or a House Elf, forget about cancer cures and socks, and concentrate on what you can control. Here are a few tips to help you learn how to fully and unconditionally accept yourself for who you are.
Forgive Past Mistakes
We have a tendency to believe that people are definitively good or bad, pure or evil. Either naturally selfless or malicious. So when we do something to hurt others, we believe there may be something wrong with us. Here’s the truth: everyone in the world, even those we look up to and idolise, has done something most would frown upon.
Growth is making mistakes and learning from them. Mistakes that will have hurt people, and caused them pain and perhaps suffering. Feel remorseful, make amends and put it behind you. You can’t thrive whilst weighed down with the guilt of all the mistakes of your past. Better yet, forgiving yourself will make you more forgiving of others and in the process, strengthen your powers of empathy. Free yourself of unnecessary guilt and watch yourself flourish.
Accept You Will Make Future Mistakes
Nobody’s born perfect, and nobody dies perfect either. You won’t reach 80-years-old as a shining example of a flawless person shaped by decades of life experience. You are a human being, and you will make mistakes. A lot of them. There might be people in your life that make every day look like a walk in the park, but they have tripped themselves up just as much as the rest of us.
The difference between the carefree folk and people who worry about what they will get wrong next is their frame of mind. Accepting you will make mistakes puts you in a prime position to deal with the consequences of those mistakes and to forgive yourself for them. By turning this into a habit, you will worry less about slipping up and be free to concentrate on what you’re doing right.
Close Your Ears to Unconstructive Criticism
Sometimes struggling to accept ourselves has less to do with our own doubts and more to do with others. Constructive criticism is so important to our personal growth, but not everyone has your best interests at heart. For whatever reason, you will encounter people who offer their uncalled for and sometimes just plain rude “advice”.
Toxicity from others causes us to doubt ourselves, our abilities, and perhaps the most damaging, our worth. Disregard the jabs, the harsh remarks and let in only that which allows you to thrive. And for goodness sake don’t read the comments.
Come to Peace with Your Flaws
The mainstream advice for embracing your flaws right now is to “love” them. I’m calling shenanigans on that one. I’m never going to love being socially awkward, it sucks. But I’ve made peace with it. It’s a part of who I am and it’s not going away any time soon, as much as I’d like it to.
Accepting our flaws makes it easier for us to accept the consequences that come with them. Speaking before you think, your nervous eye-twitch in stressful situations or clumsiness causing the death of several china plates. Not loveable, but liveable.
Coming to terms with your flaws takes practice and a lot of putting things in perspective. Remind yourself that your flaws are not only a small part of you but very often have minimal impact on the world. 99.9% of the time they hardly matter. Remind yourself how unimportant your flaws are and you can dedicate more energy to your talents. Before long, you’ll be a Zen master.
Self-acceptance is a journey. One of the longest and most difficult you’ll embark on. Not only will you have to invest time and effort in yourself, but you will have to be particularly aware of your behaviours and whether you’re worrying too much about them or if they need some work. But, do your best to accept yourself and you’ll be happier than a House Elf who got a t-shirt for their birthday.
Rosie Wylor-Owen is the author of the urban fantasy short story The Witch’s Touch and has had her work published in several literary magazines. In addition to running her book blog “The Secret Library”, Rosie writes articles regularly for Unwritten and Project Wednesday, and her debut urban fantasy novel The Essence of Souls.