What Are the 7 Keys to Ultimate Self-Acceptance?
What if I proposed that I could provide you with more independence, more joy, more kindness, less fear, improved mental health, a growth mindset, and an increased sense of self-worth?
Would you want it?
What if I told you that all of this is possible, but the path to this involves self-acceptance. Self-love of the kind where you embrace everything about yourself (all your good attributes and your not-so-good features) and are okay with it all.
Would you be able to do it?
Self-acceptance entails ultimately valuing all parts of yourself — both the desirable and undesirable. It means you understand your current reality, come to terms with it, and aspire to live your life as best as possible. Self-acceptance is perhaps the most incredible gift you can give to yourself.
I will be opening your hearts and minds to the need to love and accept yourself for who you are through the irrepressible spirit and story of Sam Berns. Additionally, I will lay out practical actions you can take to ultimately achieve self-acceptance.
This article is based on an episode of Passion Struck with John R. Miles. Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Podcast Addict, Pocket Casts, Stitcher, Castbox, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music, or on your favorite podcast platform.
Dealing with our undesirable reality – What we can learn from Sam Berns
On October 23, 1996, Sam Berns was born as a normal healthy baby. But at the age of two, he was diagnosed with Progeria. This very rare, progressive genetic disorder causes children to age swiftly, usually commencing in their first couple of years. Most die from heart disease or a stroke around age 13 or 14, although some live into their early 20s.
This meant that even as a child, Sam’s organs functioned like that of an aged person, leaving him susceptible to various illnesses and causing him to have a diminutive and fragile look. However, the amazing thing about Sam was that he learned early to accept his condition and live his life to the fullest.
During an interview, he was once asked, “What is the most important thing that people should know about you?”
His response was, “that I have a very happy life.”
With the many obstacles in his life created by Progeria, he never wanted people to feel bad for him. He was okay with the things he ultimately couldn’t do and focused on the ones he could do.
He kept looking forward, believing that a bright future always lay ahead of him, which helped him constantly stay in a forward-thinking state of mind.
He did not ignore his condition. He genuinely let himself feel and face the pain, which allowed him to move past it into other possibilities.
A particular victory was when he desired to join his school’s marching band. He was 17 then, weighed only about 50pounds, and couldn’t carry a regular-sized snare drum. However, with the help of an engineer, who made a snare drum apparatus weighing only about 6pounds, it allowed him to carry the drum.
Sam then went on to play for the marching band, becoming a percussion section leader. He also achieved becoming an Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts.
Sam acknowledged that he had to be brave most of the time and that it wasn’t always easy to deal with his condition and accept himself. Sometimes he faltered, but he always picked himself up and focused on living his best life within his time on earth.
He is featured in the Emmy award-winning documentary Life According to Sam, rated among 15 documentaries considered for Oscar nominations by The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Sam Berns died on January 10, 2014, due to complications from his condition, but he made sure his short time on earth was meaningful, impactful, and inspiring.
From this inspiring story of Sam Berns, we can draw out the following questions;
- Why are people unsatisfied with who they are?
- What are the implications of not accepting yourself?
- How can you learn to accept yourself just as you are?
- What are the benefits of self-acceptance?
Let’s go on as I share detailed explanations of these questions.
Why are people unsatisfied with who they are?
We are all born into this world in our unique circumstances. The circumstances of our birth are outside of our control, with some more favorable than others. We all live in a world where certain standards are expected of each person to be considered what society deems “normal.”
As a result, people may wish they looked different or were born into circumstances other than their current realities. Failure to fulfill those ‘standards’ can cause a person to loathe who they are and develop low self-esteem.
Naturally, certain factors affect our perceptions of things like beauty, which can cause some to be considered less attractive than others. The affected individuals may find it challenging to have a positive body image.
Other causative factors cause low self-esteem to be felt in additional ways. For example, discrimination may make the person wish they were different. People with behavioral and emotional disorders are often bullied and victimized. Persons with congenital or acquired deformities often feel less than humans.
In truth, accepting oneself with such conditions can be very difficult, especially when it doesn’t just affect self-image but also physical mobility, mental aptitude, and everyday functionalities. For example, people without limbs may not be able to handle daily tasks the same way as able-bodied people.
However, I believe hopelessness is another alarming element plaguing society. Many people believe everything they do is meaningless, so they choose to live in mediocrity. The reason people stay stuck in mediocrity is entirely because of their choices. Think of it this way: average choices create average results. As Seth Godin points out, “Is there a difference between ‘average’ and ‘mediocre?’ Not so much.”
What are the implications of not accepting yourself?
A lack of self-acceptance can lead to many adverse effects on the quality of life of the affected person. These include:
Falling into the comparison trap
When we fall into the comparison trap, we constantly compare ourselves with others and what we perceive society expects of us. Impression for the sake of acceptance. Power for the sake of authority. Subjugation for the sake of domination. It leads to nihilism and the lack of hope that there is anything we can do to improve our lives. It can become an irrational sense of despair, which is a major cause in the eighty-year escalation of depression and anxiety among young people and a twenty-year hike among adults.
Because one isn’t satisfied with who they are, they fail to acknowledge and value the good things they have. This leads to constant frustration and disappointment with oneself.
When you cannot accept yourself, it becomes difficult for you to believe that others genuinely accept you because you feel unworthy of being loved and valued. It leads to issues with friendships and romantic relationships.
Decline in health
Research shows that our body and mind are directly connected. Our beliefs and thoughts directly influence our physical bodies. So if you’re constantly putting yourself down, your immune system can be weakened, which will ultimately lead to a poor state of health. There is also a correlation between low self-esteem and increased susceptibility to drug and alcohol abuse.
An unfulfilled life
Failure to accept yourself as you are will ultimately result in having a life that is void of depth and fulfillment. You will simply lack the will and passion for meaningful living and will be unable to do the essential things you can and contribute positively to the world.
In extreme cases, it might even lead to self-hatred and eventual hatred for others, leading to destructive behavior and crime. Even worse, it could lead to suicide.
How can you learn to accept yourself just as you are?
The journey to loving and accepting yourself all begins and ends with your mindset. You have to realize that nothing else matters outside of what you choose to believe and think about yourself. And it would help if you remembered that you always have a choice to make constantly.
The following are some further practical steps you can take;
Be honest with yourself.
Self-acceptance begins with being genuine and sincere with how you feel about yourself. Accept that you are not perfect and flawed like everyone else. This will help you come to terms with reality and guide you on your way to accepting your whole self to live your best.
Practice daily positive affirmations
The idea of positive affirmations has existed for a long time. Repeating positive affirmations is a self-help technique intended to challenge negative, unavailing thoughts and promote self-confidence. There is ample scientific research demonstrating that they can be very effective in encouraging you to strive to be your best.
For instance, a study published in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience used the MRI to demonstrate that practicing positive affirmations triggers the reward centers in your brain. It releases your neural pathways and changes the brain areas that make you happy and cheerful.
You can put positive affirmations on sticky notes to post on your mirror, save them to your phone’s notes app for on-the-go encouragement, or simply remember them and recite them when you’re feeling down. When we use words like “I am beautiful,” “I am blessed,” and “I am a gift to the world,” we see them begin to manifest.
Appreciate your abilities
Like Sam, who was okay with the things he couldn’t do and focused on the ones he could, you must learn to appreciate and celebrate those things you can do. This will help you get comfortable with your perceived flaws and grow to love and accept who you are, ultimately enabling you to effectively utilize your ability to live a rich and meaningful life.
Work on yourself
Self Acceptance does not mean excusing or tolerating poor habits or settling for the bare minimum. We all can get better in our little ways.
So, take an active role in improving yourself by exercising to keep your body healthy and in shape, reading positive books to keep your mind active, and participating in activities that could boost your confidence and improve your general well-being.
Contentment measures being satisfied with who you are and what you have per time while hoping for better. Stop comparing yourself to others you think are better off than or even people you think you are better than. Focus on your own life and run your race. Only by doing this can you really see yourself for all you are and ultimately live your best life.
There will be times when you feel weak and unhappy about your situation triggered by a new difficulty, a mean comment by someone, or a result of overthinking your situation. When this happens, you must be quick to forgive yourself, get right back up and retrain your focus on loving yourself unconditionally. It’s the only way to keep moving forward in your journey to complete self-acceptance.
Keep a healthy and supportive company.
The company you keep has a significant impact on your overall state of being. So, ensure that you surround yourself with positive people who love and accept you for who you are on the inside and constantly encourage you through difficult times. This will go a long way in strengthening and helping you always aim for your best with what you have.
What are the benefits of self-acceptance?
Learning to love and accept yourself unconditionally offers numerous benefits that make living wholesome, fulfilling, and impactful. You will be able to receive love and acceptance from others. Your health will improve for the better. You will enjoy peace of mind and happiness, and your self-worth and esteem level will significantly increase, leading to healthier relationships. You will be able to make better choices in all areas of your life consistently.
Overall, you will be able to live passionately, intentionally, and purposefully.
Self-acceptance starts when we Let go of the fictitious image we create of ourselves
Brene Brown said, “Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.”
It is extremely difficult to create the right reality if you aren’t willing to let the false reality go. There are few more valuable things you can do for yourself than giving up the fictitious image you have of your life and learning to accept and love yourself, your reality, and ultimately your life. Even if your situation is horrible, the first step in enhancing it is acknowledging it for what it is.
Today, we live in a world where people go to great lengths to alter their lives to meet some projected and often unrealistic societal standards. One of the most vital gifts that we can give ourselves is forgiveness. To live is to make mistakes. It is inevitable. But once you see yourself making a mistake, forgive yourself and say, ‘I am grateful, I am worthy, I make mistakes, and I will learn from them.’
Make sure you firstly love and accept yourself for exactly who your are. For it is only then that you will be able to feel deep and lasting confidence and fulfillment.
It is easier for some to accept themselves than others because of the varying degrees of their predicaments and natural propensity towards societal acceptance. However, you have to understand your life is uniquely yours. No one in the history of the world is like you, and till the world comes to an end, there will be no one else exactly like you.
Remember, we’ve only have one life to live, and we can only live it once. So, accept the life you’ve been given and realize how your unique story can change through self-acceptance and you can go out and positively inspire others.
Finally, I will leave you with the words of notable fashion designer Xuan-Thu Nguyen who said, “Everything begins with accepting oneself. Without self-acceptance, one cannot accomplish anything.”
I wish you strength and grace through your journey in learning to love, believe and accept yourself for all your flaws and strengths.
Listen to the Passion Struck Podcast anywhere you listen to podcasts online.
- Are you having trouble prioritizing yourself? I discuss where you invest your love; you invest your life in Episode 104
- I explain why materialism is impacting your success and happiness in episode 96.
- Do you know the science of healthy habits? I explore this in-depth in Episode 108.
- Suppose you missed my interview with Jen Bricker-Bauer on Everything is Possible. Don’t panic! You can catch up by downloading it here.
- How do you strengthen your relationship with your best self? Explore episode 110.
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