Self Acceptance: The Key to Happiness

You have to be happy with yourself before you can be happy with anyone else!

by Dr. Sharon R. Bonds

Now is the time for you to look inside of yourself for life’s answers to all of the unanswered questions that you may have about yourself and life itself. Start listening to your inner voice for your truths.  Please don’t rely on someone else’s explanation for your life.  Everything you need is inside of you, check and seek your own truths for your life, and began to live in the integrity of that truth.  None of the old, outdated programming received through your parents, guardians, loved ones, training, experience, that you have heard or read is a form of valid truth for you, but rather what’s resonating within you, as the truth from your divine essence. Love yourself inch by inch, began to listen to yourself then start growing and healing.

Self-acceptance is being happy, loving, and comfortable with who you are right “NOW” at this present moment.  In short, loving yourself unconditionally, some call it self-esteem, (Self-esteem is the true sense you have of your intrinsic value that’s derived from your perceptions, both conscious and unconscious of your values to others.  It can be further defined as the trust you have in your ability to perform behaviors and achieve goals that have been considered to be important.  To put it simply, self-esteem is liking you unconditionally, as you are no matter what your dress size or physical ailments consist of). Others call it self-love or self-preservation, but whatever you call it, you’ll know when you are accepting yourself because it feels great.  It’s an agreement with yourself to appreciate, validate, accept and support who you are at this very moment, even those parts you’d like to eventually change.  This is important……….even those parts you’d eventually like to change, yes you can accept (be okay with) those parts of yourself!  You have to be happy with yourself before you can be happy with someone else, including your spouse, children, co-workers, friends, and family…happiness starts within you!

If acceptance feels so good and is so good for you, then why don’t we accept ourselves? The answer is motivation. We use our lack of acceptance (punishment - cause it feels bad) as motivation to get us to do, not do, be, and not be what we think we should. Many people believe that if they accepted themselves as they are, they wouldn’t change or that they wouldn’t work on becoming more of who they want to be.  Typically, we judge ourselves unfavorably with the hope it will motivate us to change. We hope if we feel bad enough about ourselves, that maybe that will motivate us to change, this is the old way. Does this work? Sometimes, but only short-term. Most times all it does is cause us to feel bad which saps the energy we might have used to make changes. It can be a vicious cycle. It works exactly counter to what you wanted to do.  “Acceptance allows change. The 'acceptance mode' includes everything, even your judgments. It allows me to be okay now, even before I reach my goals.”  In fact, when you begin to accept yourself the way you are right now, you begin a new life with new possibilities that did not exist before because you were so caught up in the struggle against the reality that was all you could do.  So if it doesn’t work, why do we keep doing it? Because we hope it will work or are you practicing insanity, which is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results. And if you don’t know any other way to change, what options do you have? We’ve been trained to believe that to change; we need to first feel bad about it or be sick and tired of it.  What if we’re accepting and loving of that particular quality, that we won’t do anything to change the situation, which is not true! You don’t have to be unhappy with yourself to know and actively change those things you’d like to change about yourself. Acceptance is actually the very first step in the process of change. Think of self-acceptance like being okay with where you live now. You may want a bigger house one day. You may dream about that new home. But there ARE advantages to living in a smaller home if you only took the time to think about it and examine the pros, you will be satisfied or comfortable and relaxed with your current situation...

Acceptance exists at the core of your being. It is your default status, in other words, it’s the core of all of your issues. To reach this base level of acceptance, you need only remove the items laying on top. To do this, you must first identify, and then rectify all the things you do not accept about yourself. Then, one by one, eliminate them by examining and questioning your beliefs around that issue.  It is possible to be happy with the home you're in now, while still dreaming and working to make your new home a reality.

This article is copyrighted.

Copyright © The Library of Congress 2011

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