Self-acceptance as a catalyst for flourishing in your life – live your extraordinary life!

Self-acceptance as a catalyst for flourishing in your life – live your extraordinary life!

In psychology self-acceptance is defined as affirmation or acceptance of self in spite of weaknesses or deficiencies. It’s got to do with accepting the good with the bad,  the positive and the negative aspects of yourself, as well as being completely comfortable in your own skin.  This is easier said than done for most people. Self-acceptance can be one of the most challenging and difficult life shifts one can make, but it's also the most rewarding and life-changing!

According to Shepard (1979), self-acceptance refers to an individual's satisfaction or happiness with himself, and is thought to be necessary for good mental health. Self- acceptance involves self-understanding; meaning a realistic, albeit subjective, awareness of one's strengths and weaknesses. It results in an individual feeling that he/she is of "unique worth" in spite of real or perceived imperfection.

In clinical psychology and positive psychology, self-acceptance is considered a prerequisite for change to occur, in other words, we can’t change or improve what we don’t acknowledge and accept of ourselves. This can be achieved by stopping the self-criticizing, and stop trying to solve the ‘so called defects' of one's self.  In other words, it’s tolerating  one's self to be imperfect in some parts.

For example, something horrific or traumatic might have happened to you during your life which makes you think of yourself negatively, something that you blame yourself for. You might not be able to accept certain things about 
your family, or your upbringing. There could be things that you have not accepted about your body;
 Maybe you never finished your education, or you were fired from your job, you might be dyslexic, or you might be really tall or really short, or bald, skinny or big. You might have a crooked smile, or only one leg. This list could go on, but I think you get the idea…

Now I’m not saying that we shouldn’t always strive for self-improvement, I am the biggest advocate of striving towards self-actualization! Self-acceptance is not an excuse to avoid self-growth, but instead it allows us to accept and get over the bumps in the road towards flourishing in our lives.  What I mean is that somewhere in our lives we need to make peace with certain parts of ourselves, and the only way to do that is to acknowledge and accept that they are there.  Sometimes we just need to let go of the self-hate, regret, anger and frustration!

…But how?

The journey to self-acceptance might be terrifying at first, because it forces you to dig deep into the quarries of your heart and mind. But it also awakens your self- awareness that allows you to soar to the zeniths of your soul and psyche.  The result of self-acceptance is a radical paradigm-shift of how you see yourself and life, and how you live your life going forward in relation to yourself and others.  You will become "anti-fragile" (it means that something does not merely 
withstand the shocks of life, but actually improve because of them)

I have identified a few key elements in order to progress to a level of self-acceptance, some of which I have applied in my own life.

·         Self-forgiveness

·         Self-understanding and awareness

·         Regain your power

·         Stop comparing your life to others

·         Allow for flexibility in your thinking and reasoning

·         Let certain things go

·         Find your sense of humour

·         Don’t take yourself so seriously

·         Be inspired

Live well and love yourself! Remember that life is fluid and not static, and in the words of Gandhi  “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”

Marie Joshua  - Wellness Practitioner &  Counsellor


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