How to Accept Yourself: Start Here
Repeat after me: I accept myself. I love myself. I forgive myself for what I didn’t know until I learned it.
Did you do it? How do you feel? Maybe a tad bit lighter and happier?
Or maybe not. I hope you don’t fall into this category but I know some of my readers do. You may be so deeply rooted into self-criticism that you have grown a thick layer of cynicism, one that you may mistakenly think of as self-protection. How do I know this? Well, experience, of course. A few years ago, I was as negative, cynical and pessimistic as they come – and what’s funny, I didn’t even see myself that way. I saw myself as “realistic”!!
I used to think to myself, “I’m protecting myself against all the new-age positive hoopla that is going around, because everyone knows that’s not real, the reality is that life is hard, and I need to be harsh on myself to get ahead, to improve, and to show the world what I have.”
I was constantly busy proving myself, getting approval from parents, bosses, colleagues, professors, teachers, friends, and strangers before I ever gave myself any approval – and even at the height of praise and approval, I would find a hundred faults with myself.
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My friend Jen Gresham would call me an overachiever, but I thought of myself as an underachiever who would have liked to be an overachiever, like those people to whom I compared myself day and night. Well, I was disillusioned beyond belief – but not beyond hope.
Before we go on, again, repeat after me: I accept myself. I love myself. I forgive myself for what I didn’t know until I learned it.
This new belief system, simple as it seems, once it took form, saved me. It saved me from deep unhappiness and the pit of depression. It saved me from obsession with comparing myself to others – strangers who didn’t even know I existed. It saved me from loneliness and hopelessness.
Because I learned to accept myself, to love myself and to forgive myself. And you can too.
At first, I was just saying the words, just to see if this “actually works”. It was when I had first come into contact with the work of Louise Hay and positive affirmations – and fast forward to today, affirmations are the foundation of my happiness and success.
And the first affirmation that I still remember vividly from the teachings of Louise Hay is this:
I love and approve of myself.
The first time I read that out loud, it sounded foreign. I had never said those words to myself. Ever. The powerful simplicity of this phrase baffled me because it had an enormous impact on me.
Why Is It So Hard to Accept Yourself?
The easiest answer I can think of is that we confuse approving of ourselves with never changing, never improving and never getting better or getting what we want in life. That’s just preposterous. What do they have to do with each other? Nothing.
Repeat and see for yourself: I accept myself. I love myself. I forgive myself for what I didn’t know until I learned it.
So I began to experiment with a different approach to life: One that comes from a place of love and approval for myself first. One that does not allow for pessimism, criticism, negative thinking and toxic relationships. One that opens me to possibilities and expands the horizon instead of closing in the curtains and blocking the abundance.
The One Simple Rule You Must Know to Learn to Accept Yourself
The rule to self-acceptance is simple. No matter what you need to do to accomplish your goals, achieve your dreams, or heck, just get through the day, you do it by approving of yourself first and last. Easy? I don’t know about you but it was one of the hardest shifts in mindset that I have had to cultivate.
And you are oh so worth it.
So you start and end your phrases with “I accept myself” or “I approve of myself” – in effect, you sandwich your thoughts, whatever they may be, in between two powerful phrases that begin to train your mind to think differently about yourself – perhaps with more compassion and even, dare we say, love?
Remember that you are not taking away the hard work, the overcoming of difficulties, the realities of your life, and even the fact that you can improve and get better and grow stronger and wiser and happier, you are simply supporting it all with the power of self-approval and self-acceptance, instead of self-criticism.
Positive Affirmations for Self-Acceptance
Here are some examples of positive affirmations that incorporate self-approval and self-acceptance. You are free to replace “I approve of myself” with “I accept myself” – whichever comes more naturally to you:
- I approve of myself, I work hard every day to achieve my goals – I approve of myself.
- I accept myself, I create opportunities for growth in my business – I accept myself.
- I approve of myself, I have made mistakes that cost me money and time – I approve of myself.
- I accept myself, I improve by learning and self-educating myself – I accept myself.
- I approve of myself, I have a challenge that needs my complete focus and attention and I approve of myself.
- I accept myself, I ask for help and guidance because I don’t know the answers and I accept myself.
- I accept myself, I face disagreement and criticism from the outside world and I approve of myself.
In essence, whatever is happening in your day, as you talk to yourself, start and end it with the phrase “I approve of myself.” Or if you like, “I accept myself.”
Decide Now: Do You or Do You Not Believe in Affirmations?
Before you start this experiment, you have to decide whether you believe in positive thinking, whether positive affirmations even work. You will find no shortage of attack on affirmations, and some do it just to get attention and others go through unnecessary trouble to “prove” that affirmations don’t work – well, you could totally join that camp.
So long as you are combining the power of positive affirmations with the necessary actions to achieve your goals, they work miracles.
But that’s for you to decide.
If you happen to decide to believe in them, then I’m thrilled for the possibilities that are in front of you.
And if you want to play, your challenge is this: do the exercise above for just seven days and come back and tell me if you don’t feel better.
Between us, you will begin to feel better after the first day once you realize just how often you criticize and blame and degrade yourself, but let’s just say a week for good measure.
Now go! Go do this right now, go change that negative toxic self-talk in your head and learn one of the most powerful lessons that they should’ve taught us in kindergarten:
Approve of yourself.
But they didn’t. So let us learn it now. Shall we?