We really start to enjoy life when we embrace self-acceptance. That’s the launch pad of everything positive, uplifting, constructive, and healing. Everything good.
Self-acceptance is responsible for love and emotional wellness; its purpose is to develop our psychological empowerment. When healthy, self-acceptance functions from a place of compassion and forgiveness. An inspiring affirmation for self-acceptance is: “I am loved.”
My client, LaToya, shared, “When someone wrongs me, I’m not quick to let it go and chalk it up to humans’ making mistakes, because, honestly, some people do some blatantly stupid things on purpose. I don’t sit around gritting my teeth and thinking of them in my downtime, either, nor do they get swept under the carpet. They simply get pushed out of my memory.
“You may not understand this. You may not grasp how I possess the ability to completely ignore someone based on their egregious actions. There are people—family members, in particular—who just can’t understand that I have nothing to prove by being on cordial terms with individuals that I can’t stand.
“I don’t feel the need to be on speaking terms with everybody in the interest of appearing mature or secure. I’ve seen all the hype floating around about forgiveness and how the refusal to do so means that the other person is ‘winning.’ Sometimes forgiveness just isn’t possible.
“I’m not against forgiveness. I just don’t think some people deserve to be forgiven as much as they deserve to be forgotten and marked ‘nonexistent.’”
- Do you sabotage relationships with distrust, anger, or a sense that you’ll lose your independence if you rely too much on others?
- Do you struggle with commitment, experience frequent fights or misunderstandings with your loved ones, and always keep yourself “on guard” to keep from getting hurt?
- When you have a conflict with someone else, do you consider their pain?
- Have you forgiven those who’ve hurt or offended you, or are you harboring resentment— withholding forgiveness?
Self-acceptance validates our sense of worth and provides emotional empowerment. The developmental stage begins somewhere between four and seven years of age.
Self-acceptance is concerned with unconditional love, generosity, and self-esteem. As we continue to grow, this often translates to forgiveness, letting go, and compassion.
When our senses of love and self-acceptance are in balance, we enjoy qualities from the constructive side of this self. These include hope, trust, harmony, understanding, self-esteem, compassion, and love.
When our senses of love and self-acceptance are out of balance, we can experience feelings of self-rejection. Many addictions are fueled, in part, by a self-critical component.
Feelings of unworthiness are at the forefront of self-rejection. When we allow the opinion of others to hold us hostage, our personal value is based on what other people think. This can keep us on a continuous, gut-wrenching roller-coaster ride. Praise and criticism trigger our actions. When we receive praise, our self-esteem skyrockets; when it’s withheld or we’re criticized, it plummets.
Self-rejection also includes the fear of outside rejection. When someone rejects—emotionally wounds—us, we become fearful that it could happen again. If it does, we build defenses and become emotionally guarded, or sometimes even emotionally impenetrable.
Self-rejection can manifest itself in a number of harmful ways that become items we tuck into our life’s baggage. Depending on their size and impact, we may slip them into a tote that we keep within arm’s reach, for handy retrieval, or stuff them into a large suitcase that comes around on the baggage carousel only occasionally. These can include:
Physical: heart conditions, asthma, allergies, lung and breast cancers, problems with the thoracic spine, pneumonia, upper back, and shoulder issues.
Mental: possessive, jealous, reckless, greedy, deceitful, cruel, and addictive behavior.
Emotional: loneliness, resentment, bitterness, self-centeredness, and the anguish of inconsolable grief.
Spiritual: unwillingness to forgive, and a lack of compassion.
Jocelyn, age forty-eight, shared, “Accepting myself isn’t something I do easily. I was taught from an early age that I wasn’t important. That lesson was reinforced by continuous emotional abuse—not surprising when you understand that I come from an alcoholic, dysfunctional family.
“That wobbly beginning has affected my ability to express my true feelings in a productive way, even with my husband. I find that I still hold back my feelings from a fear of producing more conflict. I’m careful not to make waves and find myself flinching at the slightest sound. In many areas, I go into ‘freeze mode’ because I couldn’t fight or flee when I was growing up. I haven’t been able to shake that habit.”
Love and self-acceptance work hand-in-hand with emotional wellness. More than just handling stress, it includes anger management, healthy personal expression, and working through self-esteem issues. It entails paying attention to all of our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, whether they’re positive or negative.
Previously Published on Unbound Northwest