Self-Esteem and Self-Acceptance

Self-acceptance is a prerequisite for self-esteem. It sounds quite simple and easy to achieve. However, how often do you find yourself having an inner conversation with yourself where you are judging yourself in some way? How often do you think certain thoughts only to shoot yourself down immediately? The nature of our self-talk is an indicator of the extent to which we are in an antagonistic relationship with ourselves or not.

Self-acceptance is to be on your own side, to be a friend to yourself. It is about looking out for yourself. It is about being selfish, not in the negative sense of the word but rather acknowledging your own desires, interests and dreams.

Self-acceptance does not mean that you have to like everything about yourself. All it is, is an acceptance of who you are: all the positive aspects as well as the darker sides of yourself. It also does not mean that you must then sit back and stop growing because you have the attitude: “but this is just the way I am”. We can each grow into the person we want to be.

Self-acceptance is about owning who you are, what you feel, how you behave, etc. It is also about owning and admitting mistakes you make, about accepting the fact that you are just human. E.g. Some years ago I was facilitating an intervention with a new client when we experienced a traumatic event with our son. During that time I had sent the Managing Director an email response which had not been thought through. I felt embarrassed when I realised what I had done. I felt I needed to be open and wrote to him briefly explaining my situation. He accepted my response readily and our relationship remained intact. He  was most understanding when he understood what had happened and I was able to move on from this experience in a positive way. Although I felt very awkward, I was able to accept that I had not been thinking clearly and needed to apologise to my client.

Most of us have experienced incidents where our self-esteem was negatively affected as a result of our inability to forgive ourselves for something we had done. E.g. An experienced and highly successful consultant mentioned that he had overstepped boundaries with a senior executive in a large organisation. This incident instantaneously closed doors for him. He said it took him years to get over this event and to rebuild his self-esteem again.

It is important to bear in mind that we mostly behave in the best way we can with the resources and skills we have at the time. The reality is that it is through experience that we gain deeper insights into ourselves and can make different choices.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Do you have an antagonistic or amicable relationship with yourself?
  • Do you treat yourself with respect? Do you value yourself sufficiently to not allow others to manipulate, demean, coerce, ignore or undermine, etc. you?
  • To what extent can you own all sides of yourself? Not like them just own them!
  • Are you able to laugh at yourself?
  • Can you forgive your mistakes?
  • Can you be compassionate towards yourself?

Next time you feel less accepting of yourself ask: “What are the mitigating reasons for my behaviour? What did I learn from the situation that I did not know before? If I am repeating the same mistake over and over again, what am I failing to learn? Or why is it easier to remain in my comfort zone?”

It is important to know that when we are ill, stressed or tired, our level of self-acceptance may be negatively affected. At these times it may be more helpful to focus on getting sufficient rest as opposed to continuing with your inner work. Contact me if you would like to explore how you feel about yourself and grow your self-acceptance.



Posted in Self mastery.