5 Ways to Increase Self-Acceptance
Do you like who you are? What is it that you like about yourself?
If you answered these questions easily, fantastic. Go and make a cuppa because you probably don’t need to read any further.
For those of you still here, did you struggle? Did you have that moment of realisation where you just couldn’t think of something tangible? Maybe all those negatives came flooding into your head, but the good stuff? Not so much.
Unfortunately, the human brain is hardwired to notice the negatives, and that’s not such great news when it comes to our self-esteem. Example: You give a presentation to 20 people,1 person yawns and your attention is immediately drawn to them. Not only are you drawn to them, (instead of the 19 people who are not yawning), but you make an evaluation of why they are yawning, and usually it won’t reflect kindly on you, e.g. ‘they must be bored, I bet they can’t wait for me to finish’.
The good news is that there are things we can do to bypass this negative hardwiring, develop a more balanced perspective, and be more accepting of ourselves.
1. Notice how you talk to yourself:
Before we can do anything about it, we need to notice how we talk to ourselves. Often, negative self-talk will be so natural and automatic we don’t even notice it happening however, this can have a direct impact on how we feel about ourselves.
Notice the content of what you say: is it generally negative, self-deprecating? What about the tone? Do you use a kind tone with yourself, or does it have a frustrated, aggressive or condescending quality? How would you feel if someone else kept talking this way to you; pretty bad?
2. Change what you say, (as if you were talking to a friend):
Would you talk this way to a friend? If not, how would you speak to them? What would you say if they were being mean about themselves? Try speaking to yourself as if you were talking to someone you love, and see how it feels.
3. Ask 'opposite' questions:
Often when we think of a positive trait, our mind will jump to a time where we didn’t act in congruence with that quality. Take kindness for example: we will perhaps start ruminating on a time when we could have been kinder? However, if we ask the question ‘Am I always unkind?’, the likelihood is that the answer will be ‘no’. Therefore, that must mean that there are times we are kind, which leads to our next point…
4. Accept imperfection:
Do we expect other people to be perfect? Think of someone you love and admire: are they always completely without fault? We often have much higher expectations of ourselves than we do of others. If you think of a friend that you associate with patience, is there never a time in their life they have been a little impatient? We all have bad days and times we don’t 100% live up to expectations. This doesn’t mean we need to completely disregard the times we do!
5. Change the tone:
Its not just what we say to ourselves that matters, but how we say it! Practice saying to yourself "I'm good enough". Now notice the difference between saying this in a frustrated, sarcastic, or even just a passive tone, and notice how this makes you feel. Now try saying it with kindness and compassion. Does this feel different?
It can feel strange being nice to ourselves at first, especially when we're not used to it. Maybe put a little reminder somewhere you will see it daily, a post-it note on the bedroom mirror, or even set an alarm. Try following these steps a couple of times a day, and notice how it becomes easier with time and practice.