The way in which the human brain has been conditioned is quite interesting. What you feed the brain is what it gives off.
The moment you begin to accept or embrace who you are, having compassion for yourself, knowing that no one is perfect and accepting your flaws and being less judgmental about yourself, then you are practising self-acceptance.
But what exactly is self-acceptance?
Self-acceptance comes with accepting not only the positive but the negatives as well. As humans, we are born with weaknesses and negative habits. Self-acceptance therefore doesn’t mean that we should get too comfortable with our negativity or attitude and do nothing to change or improve it.
There is a thin line between self-acceptance and self-esteem. To improve your self-esteem, you should be able to fully accept yourself. The moment you stop judging yourself negatively, you will be in a position to accept yourself hence increasing your self-esteem.
What determines self-acceptance?
Practising self-acceptance starts from childhood. Self-acceptance is partly gotten from people accepting and appreciating us. Research shows that before the age of eight, we are unable to create a clear picture of who self is. As a result, we depend on what is taught by caretakers or parents.
And so if the children aren’t taught how to love or accept themselves, or are unable to communicate the message of self-love then we are bound to see ourselves otherwise. As a result, they heavily need stronger affirmation as adults compared to other people.
It is therefore important to know that low self-acceptance doesn’t exist on its own, but rather, has serious physical and psychological effects.
The physical and psychological effects of low self-acceptance.
Having low self-acceptance affects your psychological well-being. For example, the more you practice mindfulness, the easier it is for you to reduce the impact of stress that affects you and the people around you. The same applies to having a physical, chronic or lifelong illness. The moment you fail to accept the situation you are in, the more your negative thoughts multiply.
How low-self acceptance affects us
How you feel about yourself affects the part of the brain that controls your emotions and stress levels. The affected area has less tissue to “work with.” Similarly, the regions in the brainstem (a part of the brain that helps to regulate a number of involuntary actions in the body) that process stress and anxiety are more likely to have less tissue and this alters the emotional control regions.
Simply put, low self-acceptance affects the brain in two major ways: directly altering the brain regions that control it, and indirectly by it increases the stress signals in your brain that subsequently disrupt these regions which in the end cause discomfort.
How to increase self-acceptance
Avoid focusing on negative emotions like self-hatred, but rather focus on the positive aspects you possess. Look for the positives and opportunities in the negatives. If you are to dwell on a negative aspect, find ways you can learn from it. How better would you have handled it?
At times, low-self acceptance is done unconsciously. And therefore find ways of forgiving yourself. Once you hate yourself for doing or not doing something, then you aren’t one person. That is, the one that wishes to be forgiven, and one that forgives.
However, self-forgiveness comes with practice. Get yourself involved in actions or activities that will teach you to forgive and learn to be at peace with people. For example, being part of family and community service. These activities give one a sense of unity and connectedness. And in turn, the feeling unites the two people that were originally in conflict.
Identify your strengths
Take time to write down where your strengths lie. It could be an art, sports, music and so on. Take time to practice them regularly and get better at them. That way you feel more confident and can confidently and powerfully use or share your skills and abilities with the world.
Make yourself available for any opportunities. Volunteer in places, apply for jobs and try out new extracurricular activities that can help you express yourself and explore what you are good at.
Make use of your close friends and family. Whenever you feel empty or have low self-acceptance, share with friends and family. You could ask them to mention things they like about you. This helps to calm you psychologically and focus on the things people like about you. Hence increasing your sled-acceptance.
However, the methods mentioned above are a few of the many ways to improve self-acceptance. Similarly, not all of them work for everyone. The same way in which individuals are unique, is the same way what works for every individual is different.
The most important thing is to find what works best for you because at the end of the day, self-acceptance helps you keep a strong and healthy emotional and psychological life.
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