What is self-acceptance?

It’s fairly easy to have self-acceptance when things are going well, we feel loved, we are doing a good job at home or at work, we are happy! But what about when things get messy, when we’ve had an argument with our spouse, when we are physically sick, when we’re facing financial pressures? Self-acceptance is an ability to have care for yourself, whatever is happening in your life, good or bad.

Self-acceptance is closely related to self-love, it is a softening, an openess in the way you respond to your inner experience and outer behaviours. This feels quite different to being in a state of pushing away, of shutting down, of not accepting. It can be a subtle experience, a kind of softening in your heart space, or an ability to breathe deeply and feel compassion for yourself, even though you might also be suffering with hurt or guilt.

Why is it so important?

Life can be challenging at times, we cannot control all external experiences and situations. Practicing self-acceptance is important as a way to counter build up of stress, it means you can bounce back from difficulties much more quickly. Studies show that high self-esteem is a very important factor in mental and physical health. And self-acceptance is a major contributor to levels of self-esteem and self-worth.

Opening to self-acceptance, means you are kinder to yourself, more loving, more forgiving of your mistakes. This doesn’t mean you necessarily become marshmallow like, letting the world push you around or squash you. There are other qualities of self that are also important and work in partnership with self-acceptance, including courage, assertion, motivation, sense of purpose and values.

Practicing self-acceptance enables inner tension to dissolve and allows for more resourceful ways of being to develop. Self-acceptance opens the door for profound change, growth and healing.