Self-love, self-care, self-acceptance. All these terms have been floating about the internet in recent years with new trends such as face masks, bath bombs, and journaling spiking due to this self-love revolution.
But bath bombs and beautification aside, what does it mean to truly love and accept yourself?
In this article, we’ll be taking a closer look at what self-love and self-acceptance are, and 9 ways in which you can start to love and accept yourself for who you are.
It is important to know that when it comes to self-love and acceptance you can start as you are and at any time. It’s okay not to be the perfect partisan of self-love either, because that fact of the matter is, no one ever is!
Self-love and acceptance is a way of life that is constantly in flux and needs readdressing and refining along the way.
What is Self-Love?
Put simply self-love is loving yourself. However, this isn’t in an egotistical or narcissistic way.
Instead when you practice self-love you have high regard for your well-being and your happiness.
You won’t sacrifice your own needs or well-being to please others, know your worth, and trust your own voice. Self-love is having the same compassion towards yourself as you do to other people.
Self-love connects to self-acceptance as to achieve true self-love you need to be able to accept and come to terms with your own shortcomings be this perceived or actual.
You also need to make peace with the bad in your past so you can focus on the good in your future.
What Is Self-acceptance?
Self-acceptance is a stage in the process of self-love that can lead to powerful and profound realizations and empowerment.
Self-acceptance can be broken up into many elements and what self-acceptance looks like varies from person to person.
Firstly, it is being aware of your strengths and weaknesses.
Secondly, it is the ability to appraise and understand your talents, skills, capabilities, and overall worth.
Lastly, self-acceptance is being comfortable in your own skin and being satisfied with yourself despite your flaws or your past.
9 Ways to Practice Self-love and Acceptance
I’ve put together my top list of recommendations for how you can start to practice self-love and acceptance or just up your self-love game!
It’s important to remember, however, that everyone is different so feel free to mix and match the entries on this list and create your own formula for self-love and acceptance!
1. Understand The Three Levels of Self-acceptance
Self-acceptance is a journey that for many takes years or more to achieve. Because of this, self-acceptance can be broken down into three stages making attainment seem much less daunting.
- To be your own ally and advocate: If you can’t be on your own side how can you expect anyone else to. Standing up for yourself and what you believe is right is a primal instinct that we are all entitled to. Sadly in life, some seek to take even our base instincts from us and it can be easy to lose this sense of self.
- Acceptance of your Full Self: Self-love isn’t about loving every atom of yourself. Instead, it’s about loving what you can and accepting and coming to terms with what you can’t. Fully accepting yourself is to accept all parts of yourself from your thoughts to your body, your feelings, and your dreams. It is also learning to forgive yourself and move forward from past events.
- Practicing Self-compassion: Self-acceptance prevents you from denying any part of your reality. This means that you are aware when you make poor choices or fail. However, self-acceptance also means that you can rationalize your experiences without treating yourself harshly or beating yourself up. This is self-compassion.
2. Positive Self-Talk
As with many endeavors making sure that your head is in the right place is the first step to success.
A great positive self-talk system you might want to consider is ‘PERT’ otherwise known as ‘Positive Emotion Refocusing Technique’.
While this might sound complicated, PERT is actually quite simple and follows three steps.
When you first notice a negative emotion or thought pattern firstly:
- Center yourself by taking long, slow breaths with your attention on your stomach
- Move your attention upwards to your heart and start thinking about something special in your life. This can be a loved one, pet, a favorite memory, a song, anything which makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside. Hold this feeling in your chest as you continue to breathe deeply. You can do this for as many breaths as you need to calm yourself.
- When you are calm start to mentally assess whatever made you feel negative. Ask yourself helpful questions such as how you can respond to the situation or handle it better next time. As you’ll be thinking things through when in a calm state you’ll find that solutions are much easier to come by.
The PERT method does take practice, but when harnessed can be a powerful tool for dealing with the negative in life.
It can also help to prevent yourself from beating yourself up or holding on to negative emotions creating a positive headspace that is conducive to self-love and acceptance.
Otherwise known as being kind to yourself self-compassion is an essential thing to learn on the road to self-love and acceptance.
Self-compassion is no different to the compassion you show others, it’s simply directed towards you and not outwards towards someone else.
Sounds simple, but we all know how difficult this can be after a week of comfort eating or making a major faux pas at a social event!
To help break it down we can take a closer look at the three elements of self-compassion:
- Self-kindness over Self-judgment
We are all our worst critic, but if we want to learn to love ourselves more we need to silence that voice inside our heads that tells us we’re not good enough – because we are. Your imperfections are what makes you, you, and that’s something that should be celebrated.
- Understand that You’re Not Alone
When you make a mistake or dislike something about yourself it can often feel as though you are the only person to have ever messed up.
Self-compassion isn’t just about looking inward but looking outward to the world around you. By understanding and truly accepting you are not the only person to have ever failed, you can start to look at yourself more kindly.
- Be Mindful, Not Mindless
Lastly, self-compassion is about being able to rationalize the negative. Life isn’t always going to be sunshine and rainbows and that’s OK.
What is important, however, is being able to rationalize negative emotions and experiences framing them in a way that you can grow from them and not be defined by them.
4. Less is More (Living with Need)
With every year that passes consumerism becomes a greater and greater concern. Companies pump out product after product and see just how much we’re willing to pay for an item simply for a brand or logo.
This constant pressure to keep up ruins our self-esteem. Many of these brands profit by subversively telling you that you’re not good enough or that you need their products to be worthy and withhold status within society.
I’m here to tell you that this isn’t true!
By stepping off the hamster wheel that is fast fashion and consumerism you can free yourself of stress and anxiety you never realized you had.
By removing yourself from the must-buy regime you can start to take stock of what truly matters in life. Thinking before you spend allows you to surround yourself with things that you actually love, and not those products that adverts and magazines have told you to love.
Find something you truly love will raise your self-esteem far greater than any impulse purchase and will help you to find, accept, and love your own unique identity.
5. Confronting your Fears
Everyone has a past that is filled with the good, the bad, and the ugly. Fear is a natural response to traumatic experiences because when we were cavemen it helped us to avoid repeating dangerous scenarios.
For example, if you’ve been bitten by a dog, you may develop a fear of dogs.
While minor fears and anxieties are nothing to worry about, if a fear starts to hold you back it needs to be addressed as limitations will only reduce your self-esteem and sense of worth.
Start working through your fears in small steps. For example, if you feel claustrophobic in a crowd, try working your way up from a small gathering to a larger one. It’s also important to stay with your anxiety.
While at the moment it may feel like the feeling will never go away anxiety always spikes before easing off.
While it may take a few tries to summon the courage to stay in a heightened state of anxiety, once you ride out the peak you’ll feel stronger than ever and able to conquer your next challenge.
6. Let Go of the Past
When facing your fears you might be able to identify something from the past which you’re still carrying with you.
Of course, sadly, some traumas will always stay with us, but we can learn to relax the hold that they have on us.
Freeing yourself from the baggage of the past is liberating. Past traumas can be like a cage which stops you from flourishing into the individual that you have always wanted to be.
When we’re held back by something we aren’t able to reach our full potential and are instead left with minds full of ‘what ifs’ and ‘I wish’. This leads to a lack of fulfillment which makes self-love and acceptance almost impossible.
7. Change What You Can (and Want to Change)
Context is important to this point. I want to stress that you should never change for anyone but yourself.
If someone is pressuring you to change then you should hold firm and distance yourself from that person and their influences.
Changing for someone else is a recipe for unhappiness and loss of self-esteem. Making positive changes for yourself, however, can open the door to truly loving yourself.
Whether it’s quitting smoking, moving to a new town, or changing your job, taking steps to change your life for the better can be a catalyst for starting to love your life and ultimately who you are.
While making a meaningful and lasting change can be difficult, there are 5 key steps which can help you to follow through with your intentions:
- Plan ahead
- Start small
- Take things one step at a time
- Involve a friend or someone to keep you accountable
- Don’t be afraid to seek the help of others
8. Accept What you Can’t Change
While self-love is about championing everything which you love about yourself, self-acceptance is about coming to terms with the things you might wish that you could change if you had a magic wand.
It’s important to realize that everyone in life has factors they cannot control, from the freest of spirits to the structured control freak. Instead, what matters is how we react to the factors outside of our control.
Beating yourself up for things that aren’t your fault or you had no control over, or worrying about things that may or may not happen are surefire ways to start doubting and even loathing yourself. self-acceptance is all about rationalizing the things outside of our control.
For example, working through the negative emotions associated with canceled plans is much more productive for your well-being than playing that ‘if only’ or ‘what if’ game over and over in your mind.
This process can take time and usually gets easier with age but can be a key factor in learning to accept the things about your life or your personal circumstances that you cannot change, leading to a greater level of fulfillment and self-love.
9. Cut yourself Some Slack!
As mentioned we are all far tougher on ourselves than anyone else will ever be.
Part of learning to love and accept yourself is silencing your inner critic and replacing it with an inner guide instead.
Where your inner critic will pick apart every bad element of your day, your inner guide will acknowledge that things may not have gone as planned and offer constructive solutions and seek to glean the positives from the situation.
Of course, this type of though transformation isn’t going to happen overnight, but there are some simple ways you can start to retrain your mind and let your inner guide emerge.
- Stop Comparing Yourself to Others: You are never going to be the best at every little thing and you’re never going to have a life that is the carbon copy of someone you admire. Why? Because you’re you, and you have your own special something to offer to the world. While its great to be inspired by others, avoid direct comparisons as this only empowers your inner critic.
- Create Reasonable Expectations: As I’ve already said we can be harder on ourselves than any taskmaster or drill sergeant. While setting goals that challenge you and push you to go that little bit further can be great for boosting your self-esteem, creating impossible expectations for yourself will only lead to failure. Therefore when setting goals, pause for a moment to consider if they are feasibly achievable.
- Be Grateful: Focus on the positives in your life and try to find a few things to be grateful for each day. Thinking in this way will help you to re-frame your mind to look for the positives in life as opposed to the negatives.
- Put Yourself First: Life is full of external pressures (not to mention the pressures we place upon ourselves!), your boss may demand unrealistic workloads, your Mom might want you to dress more smartly, or your significant other may wish for you to take a great role in their own hobbies or passions. While we all need to be flexible in life, bending too much will lead us to snap. Therefore you need to learn when to take a step back, be assertive, and focus on your own needs. After all, preventing yourself from being burnt out not only benefits your boss or your partner as well as yourself, it’s a powerful act of self-love too.
Remember: It’s A Journey and Not a Destination
As I’ve said several times in this article the road to self-love and self-acceptance is a journey and not a destination. It takes time to accomplish and the path you travel is unique and yours and yours alone.
Be prepared for obstacles and uneven terrain, and always remember that at the top of each of life’s mountains there is a glorious view of fulfillment and future possibilities awaiting you.
The journey to self-love and self-acceptance is possible you might just need to wear down the soles of a few pairs of sneakers along the way!
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