If we were having coffee this weekend I’d ask you whether self-acceptance comes easy for you.
Because it’s something many people struggle with. We often feel dissatisfied in our lives; constantly questioning the choices we make, or comparing ourselves to others.
It may be a negative voice from our childhoods reminding us of what we’ve done wrong. Oftentimes it’s the assault of advertisements for products to help us become “new and improved” with the underlying message that we’re not good enough as we are.
Hindsight bias is an especially cruel dictator. It’s easy to see a situation more clearly once we know the actual outcome of one choice over another. Yet we criticize ourselves for not being a bit more psychic.
We’ve been groomed to feel like failures if we can’t achieve perfection, something completely unattainable. People who aspire to be perfect are often hiding some type of shame and attempting to mitigate judgment from others.
But, it’s important to remember that perfectionism isn’t the same thing as striving to be our best selves. The various skills we acquire throughout life are divided into two types:
- Hard skills are easily measurable (reading, math, computer coding, etc.)
- Soft skills are harder to quantify (proper etiquette, active listening, getting along with others, etc.)
Both hard and soft skills are improved with training, but require honest self-examination to pinpoint areas that need work. Once these are identified we must study and practice change. Depending on what soft skills are lacking, the situation may require therapy with a professional.
It’s no wonder that self-acceptance is so hard!
One helpful way to be more accepting of yourself is to list a few positive character traits. Then consider things you do that don’t fit those traits and why:
When it comes to patience I have plenty to offer other people. I’m able to recognize their strengths and weaknesses and quickly remind myself that no one is perfect.
But, sometimes I forget to do this for myself: I didn’t think it through, I should’ve known better, I could’ve prevented this, or I would’ve done better if I had tried harder.
Rather than recognizing that some things are simply out of our control, I berate myself for being human.
Likewise, I’m quick to empathize with others. I listen intently to their problem and try to offer reassurance that things will work out. I remind them of their limitations and the fact that they can’t predict ahead of time how things will turn out.
Regrettably, I forget to exercise this same care with myself.
I’ve gotten much better in recent years after leaving a toxic relationship that reinforced negativity and feelings of incompetence.
Showing kindness to yourself is difficult, especially when you’re on the receiving end of abuse.
The road to recovery is ongoing. I returned to school in 2009 and earned a degree while working full-time. I also made some hard choices that required a lot of courage and big changes that depended upon faith in myself.
It wasn’t easy, but I knew that finding peace would require a major transformation in my life. And I knew it would take time.
Today, I treat myself with more kindness and acceptance than ever before. Thankfully, this enables me to treat others in the same way!