We hear a lot of talk about self esteem these days. Everywhere – in movies, on television, social media and in magazines – we’re encouraged to have better self esteem. In many cases, that encouragement is tied to material things. We’re promised that if we look better, get a better education, a more attractive partner, a more expensive car or a bigger house, we’ll automatically have higher self esteem.
Self acceptance is less talked-about. This is due, in part, to its relationship to material possessions and appearance. It doesn’t have one! Self acceptance is a far better discipline than today’s slightly warped version of material-based self esteem. Read on for how to cultivate true self acceptance and be more comfortable in your own skin.
What is Self Acceptance?
A useful way to look at and understand self acceptance is by choosing an activity at which you’re not very good, but which you enjoy. Perhaps you can barely carry a tune, but you love to bang out your frustrations on the drums. You might have horrible hand-eye coordination, but enjoy the excitement and team spirit of playing sports. You may be a slow reader, but adore books and spending time reading.
You get the idea – we all have something we’re not great at but which we enjoy. We’ve accepted that we’re not very good at this thing, but we do it anyway.
Self acceptance can be broken down into many more complex illustrations, but at its core, it refers to taking an honest look at who you are as a person and accepting that reality.
Self acceptance does not mean that you stop trying to be better at any particular thing. It simply means accepting that you are a human, with limitations just like any other human. You are perfectly okay – great, actually – just the way you are.
How the Two Can Combine
Now that you know what unhealthy self esteem can look like, it’s time to consider how healthy self esteem and self acceptance can work together to change your life.
Healthy self esteem is the result of valuing ourselves (literally placing ourselves in high esteem) for things which are not materialistic. We can value our talents, abilities, gifts and other natural attributes, as well as learned skills. When viewed this way, self esteem looks a lot like self acceptance. The key is keeping things firmly grounded in a non-materialistic view of ourselves.
When combined, a healthy sense of self esteem (valuing yourself for your abilities) and self acceptance (realizing that you are great just the way you are and seeing your value as a human being) can create incredible changes in your life. They can literally change the way you see yourself – and therefore the world – in everyday life. A person with healthy self esteem and self acceptance doesn’t worry about material possessions, beyond what’s necessary for regular living. They don’t get caught up in jealousy over a friend’s promotion or new car. They can appreciate the little things in life, which materialistic people often ignore or literally don’t see. Simply put, they have more fun!
Now that you know the difference between the two and the key points of each, it’s time to start taking a long, hard look at yourself. Create the changes necessary to cultivate healthy self esteem and self acceptance. You’ll be doing yourself a life-long favor!