Kindness Challenge|Week 3: Self-Acceptance


Week #3 wraps up the “self” portion of the Kindness Challenge with self-acceptance.

Unfortunately, I’ve fallen behind (we’re actually in Week #5.) Luckily, Niki structures this as a “work at your own pace” challenge. She knows that life gets busy and we have to devote more time to other things. I hope to get caught up later this week.

Self-acceptance is 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. Or, the assault of advertisements for products to help us become “new and improved” with the underlying message that we’re not good enough.

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 perfectionism, something that is completely unattainable. People who aspire to perfection 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, listening, getting along with others, etc.)

Hard skills are improved upon with training. Soft skills require honest self-examination to pinpoint areas that need work. Once these are identified we must study and practice change. Sometimes, therapy is required.

It’s no wonder that self-acceptance is so hard! However, the ability to show true kindness to ourselves and others is dependent upon this first step.

 Self CompassionAs the second option of this week’s exercises, Niki suggests listing a few positive character traits and then discussing things you do that don’t fit those traits:

  • Patience
  • Empathy

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. When something negative happens I believe it must be my fault. I didn’t think it through enough. 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 go.

Regrettably, I forget to exercise this same care with myself. 

I’ve gotten much better in recent years because I left a toxic relationship that reinforced negativity and feelings of incompetence. The road to recovery is ongoing. I returned to school and earned my degree while working full-time. I’ve also made some hard choices that required a lot of courage and changes that depend upon faith in me.

Today, I treat myself with more kindness and respect than ever before. Thankfully, this enables me to treat others in the same way!

Week 3|Self-acceptance


Kindness Challenge | Week 1: Cultivating Self-Love

2017 Kindness Wk 1

Love, like charity, begins at home.

It’s impossible to love others if we don’t love ourselves first. This is the prompt for Week 1 of the Kindness Challenge: to cultivate self-love.

It took a long time for me to learn this important lesson. I always believed that a good person puts the needs of others first. To do otherwise was selfish. 

So, I focused on doing for others and often neglected myself. Who doesn’t love a martyr, right?

That’s not to say that we should shirk our obligations and always put ourselves first; that really would be selfish! But, we have a responsibility to take care of our own needs, as well. 

However, I didn’t understand this and wasn’t able to strike a healthy balance. Occasionally I’d become resentful of the people I sacrificed for when they didn’t seem “grateful enough.”

Eventually, I learned about codependence. This is a relationship where both parties are over dependent on each other. A codependent individual needs to be needed in order to feel okay about themselves. 

Realizing that I was engaging in this type of behavior I began the hard work to change. 

Wants vs Needs

An important first step was to learn the difference between wants and needs. We tend to use these words interchangeably when they actually refer to very different things.

Wants are the things we wish for like tickets to a concert or a new couch. They vary from person to person and change over time. These are the “extras” that make us happy but aren’t necessary to live a meaningful life.

Maslow-HierarchyREVThe excitement we feel in attaining them is somewhat short-lived. As time goes by that initial thrill wanes and they’re replaced with a yearning for the next desire.

The American psychologist Abraham Maslow devised the Hierarchy of Needs. This five level pyramid begins at the bottom with the most basic needs and moves upward toward the final level that he calls self-actualization. It is here that honesty, independence, awareness, objectivity, creativity, and originality reside. 

Maslow’s theory is that only a minority of people are able to self-actualize because it requires these more uncommon qualities.

Needs are those things we must have to live healthy, functional lives. Food, water, and shelter are the obvious physical or objective ones. They remain constant over time. Subjective needs refer to those necessary for good mental health: self-esteem, approval, and a sense of security. 

The ability to differentiate between the two is important in how we prioritize and make choices in everyday life. We’re also better equipped to recognize this ability, or a lack thereof, in other people.  


 Self-love is the act of valuing your own happiness and well-being. When we see ourselves as worthy of kindness and compassion, we more easily view others in the same way. 

Love Yourself REVAs an important component of self-esteem, it enables us to have confidence and a positive self-image.

Without it, we feel the need to constantly “measure up” to self-imposed and societal standards. If that doesn’t happen then we feel like failures, unworthy of respect for ourselves and others. 

This challenge is based on the work of Brené Brown, a research professor at the University of Houston. She tells us that self-love is our birthright, that we aren’t required to earn it, but we must believe in it. 

That can be a tall task in today’s world. The race to be smarter, younger-looking, healthier, richer, thinner, etc. is overwhelming. We’re barraged with products and services that can “improve” and make us more successful. 

I followed Niki’s instructions to watch for moments when I didn’t feel good about myself. There were several times throughout the past week and all for different reasons.

GrowthREVHowever, I came up with a positive, simple mantra to remind myself that we should always exercise kindness towards ourselves and others. 

“Growth is ongoing…”

Changing negative behaviors requires diligence and strength, but we must first be aware of the behavior.

Once we identify these unfavorable attitudes towards ourselves we must remember that only through growth can we change.

We always have the opportunity for self-improvement; growth is ongoing as long as we want it to be!

Cultivating self-love requires attention and practice. This will be my focus and hopefully, the moments of negativity will dissipate. The goal is to replace it with a spirit of kindness and caring, not only for myself but others as well!

Week 1 | Self-Love