Self Acceptance – The Art of Loving Yourself

A happy, fulfilled life is a goal we all try to reach. The list of things that should be done to make our dreams come true has career achievements, financial success, and a happy family pin at the top. How come that even when we can proudly say that we grasped everything we wanted, a feeling of something missing torment us? When it comes to living a complete life what is a main ingredient?

Years of reading popular self-help book, ranging from complete rubbish to a few that actually changed my life for better, like The Road Less Travelled and 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, followed with a numerous sessions with atherapist, showed that spice which makes a difference is SELF ACCEPTANCE.

The art of loving yourself with all your faults and flows is a cornerstone of a fulfilled, happy and satisfying life.

During our childhood, parents or guardians emphasised the importance of modesty, empathy, giving and caring for the others. Somewhere along the process, they forgot to mention that the same love and compassion should be bestowed on ourselves, too.

Most of us were expected to be all goodness, intelligence and perfection in order to be loved. As a result, as adults, we consciously and unconsciously apply the same model; we tend to judge ourselves harshly, trying to live up to deeply rooted high expectations, once set upon us. Hence, we become prone to underestimating our achievements while overestimating the failures. Clearly, this causes a constant struggle with a lack of self-esteem, feeling of guilt andhostility towards ourselves. Such inner conflict can sometimes even lead to conditions like depression, anxiety and various psychosomatic illnesses.

The above mentioned feeling of guilt doesn’t allow us to accept and love ourselves the way we are. Many thoughtful people firmly believe that, in order to be a good person, they must never be easy on themselves.

Nevertheless, loving yourself doesn’t mean that you will become narcissistic, pretentious snob you dread to spend time with. On the contrary, a deep inner peace achieved through admitting your faults and learning from them, will make you more open, empathic and cheerful.

It took me two years of therapy to finally realize that self-confidence doesn’t stand for conceit and that self acceptance and self-sufficiency don’t have an equality sign between them.

To save your time (and money) let me just say that the art of loving yourself brings down to 3 major things:

1. Emphasising the Virtues

woman in sweater writing

Introspection is an excellent way to learn as much as you can about yourself, and it gives the best results if guided by a therapist. Still, you can do a lot by yourself with a help of people you trust. Write down all your virtues. Focus on them; remind yourself often that you are an exceptional person in many ways who deserves everything she has.

2. Acknowledgement of the Flaws

Just as you embraced your virtues, you should also hug your faults. Carl G. Jung claimed that each and one of us has a “Shadow” – a dark side that is irrational, impulsive, driven by instincts, which we are trying to suppress. To speak metaphorically, the “Shadow” is what caused that outbursts when you least wanted it, after which you asked yourself “How could I have said/done something like that? That’s not like me.”

To live a happy and authentic life we must strive to accept our dark side for what it is. In this way, we will incorporate it and dismiss its bad influence.

How? If you are aware that e.g. you have a bad temper and tend to yell when under stress, admit it to yourself. Don’t fall into rationalizing and explaining why, just admit that that is who you are.

Second, find a way to let go off that accumulated bad energy; practice relaxation techniques, NLP, involve yourself into a sport, talk to a friend. Try to predict next situation in which you can react in non-desirable way, and imagine yourself reacting differently.

Being human, however, sometimes you won’t be able to escape the mentioned anger outburst.

What to do then? Forgive yourself immediately and continue searching for other ways to express negative emotions.

Assimilating your Shadow and turning its negative aspects into positive ones is a long but inevitable task on your path to a happy life. Learn more about it on The Society of Analytical Psychology and Psychology Today.

3. Forgiveness

hearts on beach

Once you understand that you don’t have to be perfect to deserve happiness and love, you have to approach yourself with compassion and love. You can’t blame yourself for innate nature, looks, intelligence – all you can do is try your best to make the most of what’s been given.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that you won’t take the responsibility for your actions (bearing the consequences and learning from previous mistakes is inevitable) but, by know, you’ve learnt that good people can sometimes do bad things. Tell yourself that you did the best you could under the circumstances, forgive yourself and move on. To quote my therapist: “Don’t blame yourself for what you did in the past. Now you know what could’ve been done differently, prepare yourself for the next round. Soon enough, you’ll have a make-up exam.”

Mastering the art of loving yourself will bring happiness not only to you but to all who are close to you as well. How far along the process are you?

About the author


I am a devoted hedonist who enjoys nice things – food, wine, fine arts, spending time with friends and family. Teaching mandarin Chinese is my life vocation, but my dream is to open a small restaurant and a patisserie. My life's motto: "Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”

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