Heartland Human Services

Self-Acceptance

By Raliat Adeboyejo, BA

In todays’ society there is a lot of pressure to look, act, or behave in a certain way. A lot of people are influenced by these pressures and they never learn to properly accept themselves. The cycle of lack of self-acceptance gets passed down over and over again from parents to their children therefore this cycle continues to persist. According to Shepard (1979), self-acceptance is an individual's satisfaction or happiness with himself, and is thought to be necessary for good mental health. No person is going to be perfect, yet most people expect themselves to be. Below are some useful ways to work on developing a better sense of self:

1. Value yourself. Chances are that you have not been valued by other people, but this does not mean that you have to continue engaging in these types of patterns. Value yourself by doing small things to pamper yourself every day. Take a shower or a bath to relieve tension and sooth yourself. For women, do your make up, your nails, get a new haircut to help yourself feel better about yourself as you are. For both men and women take a walk or incorporate exercise into your routine like, walking, doing yoga, or fun dance exercise like Zumba.

2. Stop relying on other people to define who you are. Other people’s view of us can change as quickly as their emotions do. So rather than being at the mercy of other people to define who you are let that definition come from within.

3. Identify your priorities and don’t compromise just because you fear losing support from others. When people continue to change themselves to be approved by others it can cause a person to completely loose who they are in the process. Be proud of the unique parts of your personality.

4. Divide a piece of paper into two columns. In one column, write down all the things you like about yourself; your personal strengths, difficult situations you have overcome, people whose lives you have touched, personal accomplishments, and values that increase your self-respect. On the other side, make a list of your personal weaknesses or issues that you still struggle with. Perhaps you are selfish, sometimes, or avoid taking responsibility. You may have treated other people in a careless way, or not followed through on your commitments. Disorganization and lack of self-control may have cost you opportunities - you may feel lonely, or heavier than you would like to be. Whatever these issues are, bring them out into the light of day to be examined, and they will automatically feel less shameful. At the end of the exercise, read both the strengths and the weaknesses column aloud. Next, put your hand on your heart and say "i am strong; I am weak. I am flawed; I am broken. I am vulnerable. I am human. And despite these flaws, I give myself permission to love myself unconditionally. I am a growing, evolving being, who uses past mistakes as a fuel for my journey of growth. I accept myself as I am, and I set an intention to become the person I want to be." This exercise was provided by the article titled Self-Acceptance on the Psychology Today website.

Being able to accept yourself allows other to accept you more as the person you are right now which helps to break the cycle of people devaluing you because we perceive that is all you deserve. In the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson:
“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”

Accept yourself not for the person you were or the person you are striving to be, but for the person that you are today.

Psychologists advise those who have feelings of depression lasting more than two weeks to seek professional advice.  If you or a loved one are experiencing  any symptoms of depression, contact Heartland Human Services at 217-347-7179 or take a free screening at www.heartlandhs.org