5 COMPONENTS OF SELF-ACCEPTANCE
Growing up, I struggled a lot with self-hatred. I had issues with my appearance, my personality, and my "weaknesses." I constantly told myself that I was too lazy, fat, desperate, and boring. I was never "good enough" and I lived in fear of my insecurities.
Over the past few years I've been struggling with the opposite. Sometimes, I think too highly of myself and I'll talk myself into feeling exceptional or "special." I joke around about being a unicorn. I get tied to certain labels like "a 21 year old entrepreneur" or "the UBC dropout" in attempts to make myself feel unique. These are narcissistic tendencies. Brene Brown describes narcissism as the fear of being average, and thus, self-sabotage and narcissism both stem from the same roots of fear and shame.
It's easy to think I'm shit. It's also easy to think that I'm THE shit. But it's hard to be just "okay" with myself. Currently on the beginnings of this journey, I've recognized 5 components of self-acceptance. It's not a step-by-step guide, nor are the components equally challenging. Some components will come naturally to you. Some will be life-long challenges., but I believe that they are all crucial in learning to be okay with yourself. It's a work in progress.
Self-compassion means letting go of our shame and to empathize with ourselves with action. According to Dr. Kirsten Neff's research, it is composed of the following three things:
- self-kindness: the act of being warm and understanding toward ourselves, being gentle with ourselves
- common humanity: the recognition that suffering and personal inadequacy is a part of the shared human experience
- mindfulness: a non-judgmental, receptive mind state in which we observe thoughts and feelings as they are, without trying to suppress or deny them; the acknowledgment of our emotions in the present moment without over or under-exaggeration of these emotions
Example: I am learning to be compassionate with myself whenever I sleep in longer than I want to. I acknowledge that it happens, that my body needs a lot of sleep, and I validate my needs with loving, gentle language.
Surrendering is to accept the present moment and yield to the flow of life. It is letting go of any inner resistance to or judgment of the current moment, including the fear of uncertainty. It is letting go of infeasible attempts of control.
Example: The other day, I had a series of unfortunate events occur. The parking meter ate up my coins, another parking machine wouldn't take my credit card, I was then running 20 minutes late to a meeting, and had lost my coin purse during the chaos. During this stressful time, I took a moment to breathe, recognize that a lot of this was out of my control, and refocused on the goal of getting to my meeting instead of judging myself or complaining about my life.
To forgive ourselves is to let go of the guilt, shame, regret we feel towards ourselves and our life situations. In other words, it is to let go of the hopes of our past. Forgiveness helps us let go of toxic, self-destructive anger and guilt.
Example: I am still learning to forgive myself for having to drop out of university due to my mental illness. Everyday, I am reminding myself that I did the best that I can. Everyday, I am learning to accept the past and move forward in living the present moment to the fullest.
Self-awareness is to be aware of our needs, challenges, and identities. It is to be aware of ourselves without getting attached to any labels or without over identifying with our positive/negative traits.
Example: I am learning to recognize when men disrespect me, i.e. when I give men the permission to disrespect me. I am realizing now that this is because I didn't respect myself. I am becoming more aware of my feelings of low self-worth and how this has been impacting other aspects of my life. I no longer judge myself for the unfortunate past.
It is recognizing the unexpected or unearned moments that add value to our experiences - the acknowledgement of the positive things that come our way that we did not actively work toward or ask for. It is embracing an abundance mentality away from a scarcity mentality.
Example: I am grateful for my fully-abled body. I am grateful for the opportunities that have come my way. I am grateful for the loved ones who have stayed resilient to the hardships of loving me.
This is what I've come up with so far. In the larger picture, I'm trying to shift from fear towards love. Love-based emotions, thoughts, and actions that will lead to self-acceptance, which will ground me in my work for others.
Share with us,
what does self-acceptance look like to you?
Some books that are helping me through this process:
The Power of Now - Eckhart Tolle
The Universe Has Your Back - Gabrielle Bernstein
Daring Greatly - Brene Brown