How to Cultivate Self-Acceptance

Through working with adolescents and young adults over the past year and a half, I’ve seen one common theme in all my clients: A need for self-acceptance  Self-acceptance means allowing all parts of yourself to exist, even the parts you aren’t fond of. To accept yourself does not mean that you’re done working to progress yourself, it means you acknowledge and embrace who you are without judgment. You recognize that you have worth regardless of your successes and failures.  Here are a few ways to cultivate more self-acceptance:

  • Manage Your Expectations: It’s part of the human experience to have limitations. These “flaws” are normal, and they keep us human!
  • Next time you feel like you’re not doing something well enough, ask yourself, “Is what I’m trying to achieve realistic?”“Am I sacrificing something that is important to me (health, social time, relaxation time) in order to strive for this expectation?”
  • Be Aware of Your Self-Talk: No one is watching us as closely as we’re watching ourselves, so it’s easy to be our own biggest critic! Next time you notice that you’re having a self-critical thought about yourself, acknowledge that you’re experiencing negative self-talk The more aware you become of these thoughts, the more control you’ll have over them.
  • Your thoughts aren’t always true. Next time you notice a self-defeating thought, ask yourself, do I have evidence to confirm that what I’m thinking is true? Is there information missing?
  • Seek Out Failure: Yup, you read that right. Failure can feel like a bad thing when we view it as an unacceptable experience. However, it’s how we learn! The only way to master a new skill is to learn from mistakes, so allow those failed attempts. For every challenge you work to overcome, your confidence gets that much stronger!
  • Useful affirmations to repeat to yourself when working on allowing imperfection are “I forgive myself” and “I’m doing my best”.
  • Promote Positive Thoughts: Create a list of things you appreciate about yourself. This can be anything from your strengths to your accomplishments to compliments you have received from others. This may be difficult to do at first, but the more you put this activity into practice, the easier it will be!
  • An alternative idea to start with is to create a gratitude list with things you appreciate about your life in general. This is a great way to inspire more positive thoughts about yourself!

Remember: You’re valuable and lovable just as you are!

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