Acceptance of Ourselves
Individually we each are born with certain traits. As we grow older, we develop skills and abilities. Some of us were born more sensitive to stimuli than others in our environment. Others of us were more timid, more cautious in how we approached the world. Some came into the world with a more aggressive style and nothing seems to phase them and they are risk takers. Still others entered serene, easy-going babies, filled with happiness. There were babies who were more sociable and interacted more with their environment. There were also babies who liked playing alone, and created their own world to keep them stimulated. Some babies cried a lot and some rarely cried.
Some of us were lucky enough to be born into healthy, happy families where family members mirrored back to us we were terrific human beings and cherished for just being ourselves. We had good support systems, people willing to teach us basic learning skills and social skills and adults who worked to help us build healthy self-esteem. We learned to like ourselves for being who we are and we felt good when we had skills and abilities that helped us become successful in life.
There were others who were born into abusive, neglectful homes. Family members either ignored them or used them as targets for their unhappy feelings. These babies learned early on not to cause trouble, not be a burden, and to take care of their own needs. People were not willing to teach them the skills they desperately needed to become successful. No one helped them build healthy self-esteem. They learned not to like themselves and to judge themselves very harshly.They felt good when they learned new skills and abilities, but praise did not come often. They ended up struggling through out the life cycle, trying to get what they were never given as children: positive regard, respect, attention, support, and affection. Some of them are able to overcome their childhoods and learn to accept and love themselves. Others are still struggling and they can’t do it alone. They need help to build good self-esteem.
Self-Acceptance involves embracing yourself, learning to accept your own unique set of personality traits, your strengths and weaknesses, and the skills you bring to society . It means accepting the good decisions you make and the bad. That you accept responsibility for your decisions and the consequences that come from them. Ralph Marston said, ” You learn to have faith in yourself and in the direction you have chosen.” Self-acceptance also means seeing yourself as being worthy of life’s gifts and that you are worth the time and effort others spend on you. Oliver Wendell Holmes once said,” We expect more of ourselves than we have any right to.” To accept ourselves, we must accept our limitations, that there are things we cannot do no matter how much we want to. We have to learn to be as compassionate towards ourselves as we are towards others. Part of that compassion encompasses our feelings, our thoughts, our bodies, and our past. That past involves who raised us, what events molded us, and what pain and hurt we had to overcome. C.G.Jung said,” We cannot change anything until we accept it. Condemnation does not liberate, it oppresses.”
As human beings we struggle being kind to ourselves for being vulnerable, for needing others, for not being as perfect as we think we ought to be. In order to love others as we are meant to love, we must first be able to love ourselves and treat ourselves kindly. The one affects the other.
(Part 111 of this article can be found on another post.)