Accept Yourself Just the Way You Are
By Paul Rothbart
The old Billy Joel hit, "Just the Way You Are," doesn't just apply to significant others. Self-acceptance is quite elusive to many people, yet is an important key to enjoying a successful and happy life. Self-acceptance is accepting oneself as is, with all the positive and negative traits one possesses. It involves accepting the body and the mind, refraining from self-criticism, and believing in one's capabilities. Much like low self-esteem, low self-acceptance is all too common. Most people's self-esteem comes from the acceptance of others, something over which they have little control. Self-acceptance is the start of the path toward healthy self-esteem. Here is some information that may help bolster your self-acceptance.
Consequences of Low Self-acceptance
Physiological well-being suffers greatly from low self-acceptance. Attempts to improve physical and mental health are more effective in those with higher self-acceptance. As an example, mindfulness is an effective method of reducing stress, but an inability to accept oneself will reduce its effectiveness. Even treatment for a physical illness can be negatively impacted by low self-acceptance. The regions of the brain that control emotions and stress have less grey matter in those with low self-acceptance. Clearly, improving self-acceptance is a worthwhile goal.
Ways to Bolster Self-Acceptance
There are three ways to bolster self-acceptance. They are self-regulation, self-awareness, and self-transcendence. Self-regulation is accomplished by suppressing negative emotions. Focus is placed on the positive aspects of oneself and on finding the positive in any situation. Low self-acceptance can occur on a subconscious level and this is where self-awareness becomes important. Forgiving oneself for mistakes being cognizant of the opportunities for personal growth are the keys to self-awareness. Self-transcendence involves a lack of reliance on things outside of oneself to define the self. Instead, an unforced sense of connectedness to the world is embraced, bolstered by contributing to work, family, and community. Self-transcendence has been associated with greater levels of serotonin in the brain, thus increasing a sense of well-being.
Using Meditation to Achieve Self-Acceptance
There are two kinds of meditation that can improve self-acceptance. Mindfulness meditation involves observing emotions as they occur without judgement. This can help manage anxiety and stress and keep yourself calm. Loving-kindness meditation is about having compassion for oneself. This state changes the activity in the regions of the brain that process and perceive emotions. Meditation is a very effective method of learning to accept oneself.
Self-acceptance is important to mental and physical health. Many people lack self-acceptance, but it doesn't have to be that way. Find the method that works best for you and improve your self-acceptance. You're more special than you think.
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