The Audacity of Self-Acceptance
Updated: Apr 6
Have you ever been told you aren’t smart enough or you will never grow past your mistakes? Worse yet, do you believe these things about yourself? If so, I hope there’s a single spark of faith to be flamed upon understanding there is a healing correlation between self-acceptance, happiness, and the release of negative judgements.
Where do we start? At the beginning. Much of what we think, believe, and how we behave is recycled energy from our most valued relationships, parents, caregivers, teachers, siblings, and peers. Through one simple statement I find myself opening space for healing in my clients as they share their grief in-regards-to unfortunate childhood circumstance, “We give what we have to give; what we have been given.” Did you come from generations of encouraging advocates and pioneers or discouraging antagonists and oppressive belief systems?
Dr. Srini Pillay writes, “People with low self-acceptance may have had parents who lacked empathy during their childhood. Consequently, in their adult lives, they may need much stronger affirmation from others than most people do.” https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/greater-self-acceptance-improves-emotional-well-201605169546
He goes on to state, “If you feel negatively about yourself, the brain regions that help you control emotions and stress have less gray matter than someone with a greater degree of self-acceptance.” What is the importance of gray matter? Gray matter oversees motor control, sensory perception, memory, emotions and speech. Have you literally decreased your gray matter, altering these functions of the brain?
As I performed my research on self-acceptance and judgement I continually ran across documentation on the correlation between self-acceptance and happiness. How many times have you said to yourself:
· “If only I could lose some weight or make more money I would be happy.”
· “If only I were brought up in a more loving environment I would be happier.”
What if simply accepting yourself and everything that comes along with you could elevate your happiness? A survey of 5,000 people was conducted by psychologists at the University of Hertfordshire, asking them to rate themselves, between 1 and 10, on ten habits identified as being keys to happiness. The acronym for these habits is GREAT DREAM; Giving, Receiving, Exercising, Appreciating, Trying-out, Direction, Resilience, Emotion, Acceptance, and Meaning.
All 10 habits were found to be strongly linked to life satisfaction, with Acceptance found to be the habit that predicts it most strongly. Yet Acceptance was also revealed as the habit that people tend to practice the least, generating the lowest average score. When asked, “How often are you kind to yourself and think you're fine as you are?” almost 46% rated themselves at a 5 or less and only 5% of people put themselves at a 10. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140307111016.htm
Societal pressures to be successful and our own desire to make our families happy or “keep up with the Jones” invites an extreme amount of stress and unhappiness into our lives; for true happiness emanates from the inside out.
So, how can we begin to heal and reverse the effects of judgement, increase self-acceptance, and create our own happiness? By practicing self-acceptance rather than self-evaluation. One of the simplest and most natural methods of reducing self-evaluation and replacing it with acceptance is to assume a mindset of mindfulness rather than mindlessness (Langer, 1989).
Shelley H. Carson and Ellen J. Langer states, “One important aspect of self-acceptance is the ability and willingness to let others see ones true self. Living mindfully entails living daily life without pretense and without concern that others are judging one negatively. The person who lives mindfully is fully ‘‘in the moment” and is not worried about how he or she is coming across to others. Mindful individuals are truly authentic in that they are fully engaged with the environment. On the other hand, those who disengage with the moment begin to behave the way others think they should behave…”
Think about it, what are your roadblocks to self-acceptance? Are you living in the moment or judging and monitoring your thoughts and actions to appease others? Are you learning from your mistakes and moving forward or are you stuck in a time loop, reliving your mistakes, wishing for a different outcome? Remember, for every negative experience there is something positive that can be drawn from it. There is an old maxim that says, “If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not trying hard enough.”
An important piece of information to remember is, no matter what your past circumstances were, you are now in charge. You are now the adult who is here to protect, advocate for, and heal that inner child. You are a work in progress. Be willing to laugh at yourself and take life a little less seriously. Begin to catch yourself in negative self-talk and reframe your thoughts towards the positive. Practice gratitude and journal the good and joyous memories and current events. Learn to enhance your self-awareness and follow your intuition. We are always being given opportunity to “practice” accepting and exhibiting the authentic expression of ourselves.
If one of my thoughts or research findings has provided a source of oxygen to your internal flame, I am grateful. With self-acceptance and release of self-judgement comes true happiness and freedom from negative influence. How are you going to increase your gray matter, create your own happiness, and design your masterpiece?
For more information on how to design a plan for living your life with full-reflection contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and experience Transpersonal Hypnotherapy, Master Hypnotic Coaching, Reiki and much more! Find the Audacity to Self-Accept!
By: Wendy S. Cassavaugh AOS, C.C.Ht, LC
Holistic Healthcare Practitioner
Full Reflections Wellness, llc