One of the most difficult things we can learn in life is to accept ourselves as we are. The process starts from a very early age. As children, we accept ourselves in the degree we are accepted by our parents. The way our parents or carers deal with our behaviour – i.e. the extent to which they accept us or point out what’s wrong with us – and the positivity or negativity of our environment will shape the way we feel about ourselves later on.

If we have been brought up in a non-supportive environment and we struggle to live with our flaws or imperfections, then we need to find ways to “validate” that, actually, we are OK as we are.

Accepting and liking ourselves is crucial to our mental health and happiness. As Robert Holden puts it in his book Happiness Now! “Happiness and self-acceptance go hand in hand. In fact, your level of self-acceptance determines your level of happiness. The more self-acceptance you have, the more happiness you’ll allow yourself to accept, receive and enjoy. In other words, you enjoy as much happiness as you believe you’re worthy of.”

You enjoy as much happiness as you believe you're worthy of. Share on X

Self-acceptance & Self-esteem

There is a bit of a difference between these two concepts. Whereas self-esteem refers to how much we like ourselves and how valuable we think we are, self-acceptance implies embracing all aspects of ourselves, even those that aren’t very positive. A sort of unconditional acceptance.

Developing our self-confidence

People with a strongly developed self-confidence react more composed and calmly in difficult situations. They can also listen to criticism and deal with it without taking it personally or feeling offended or hurt. Self-confident people know who they are, what is important to them, and have a healthy attitude about where their limits are and what they can achieve.

What can you do to increase your own confidence and accept yourself as you are?

Watch your thoughts

Cognitive-behavioural therapists believe that it is our thinking that causes us to feel and act the way we do, and that we can change our behaviour by changing our thoughts. Thoughts, in a way, are triggers that shape the behavioural patterns and character of an individual. For example, if you would like to achieve something, let’s say get a promotion, but you don’t believe you are good enough for it because you lack the training and the skills for it, and probably you are also too shy or too weak, and… and then why even try, right? So you enter into a kind of world of negativity. Your actual behaviour can be so strongly influenced by those thoughts that your whole life becomes a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy. You have adopted a negative visions attitude that has been initiated just by your thoughts.

Your behaviour can be so strongly influenced by negative thoughts that your whole life becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Take a grip on your inner critic.

Pay attention to the critical voice in your head. This voice has told you negative things for years and has kept you from enjoying your life to the fullest. The moment you spot this inner critical voice, don’t let it go on.

continue to part 2