The Importance of Self-Acceptance
How many times have you heard someone say ‘If I only knew then what I know now.’ Usually, this comment is made in response to a time or situation the person is reflecting on where they may have behaved differently with the knowledge and confidence that comes from the self-acceptance they now have.
Self-acceptance differs from self-esteem. Self-acceptance is about accepting all aspects of ourselves - strengths and weaknesses, successes and failures. Self-esteem is more transient, referring to feeling good about yourself as a result of your achievements and positive experiences. Clearly the things we experience in life are not always going to be positive which is why focusing on self-acceptance is more important.
Self-acceptance is strongly related to mental health and wellbeing in people of all ages. The Beyond Blue website states that:
Self-acceptance for children and young people means they acknowledge they’re a complex, imperfect human capable of making mistakes as well as significant accomplishments. When faced with strong criticism, lack of success or negative perceptions, a child or young person who demonstrates self-acceptance is more likely to choose to think, “I accept myself no matter what”.
Fundamentally, self-acceptance enables children and young people to be more resilient and not rate their self-worth based on external factors such as negative peer comments, perceived failure, body image etc.
It is important to state that the concept of self-acceptance is not an opportunity to excuse poor behaviour but instead, individuals with strong self-acceptance might realistically evaluate their actions and focus on changing behaviours that are inappropriate, maladaptive or self-defeating.
In my conversations with our girls, I have noticed a level of deprecation and lack of self-acceptance. They can be overly critical of themselves and even when provided with positive feedback on an achievement or trait, they will often refer to the things they don’t do so well or didn’t achieve. This attitude is counterproductive and can be detrimental to their overall mental wellbeing. They may be less willing to make changes to their life or take perceived risks which in turn can lead to a plateauing of academic and personal development.
Beyond Blue have developed a fact sheet (which can be found at the webpage link below ) which discusses some of the keys to developing self-acceptance and how it can be promoted in children and young people.
In closing, I would like to share a quote from Shannon Ables, founder and editor of the internationally recognized lifestyle blog The Simply Luxurious Life who said:
What self-acceptance does is open up more possibilities of succeeding because you aren’t fighting yourself along the way.
Deputy Principal - Students