Self-Acceptance is The Way to Grow

January 8, 2013 tneely

This time of year, everyone but me seems to be in the “New Year, New Me” spirit. Sure, the phrase is catchy enough; but I like who I am just fine and I have no interest in continuously obsessing about my weaknesses, failures and limitations. For me, self-acceptance is the way to grow.

On the surface, I don’t see anything wrong with having the desire to grow and improve yourself. And I know that the desire to be a better you doesn’t necessarily mean that you don’t like who you are at the moment. But for those of us struggling with self-acceptance, “self-improvement” can become just another hammer to beat ourselves over the head with.

I acknowledge that self-acceptance is not easy. There was a time when I considered it nothing more than concept that could never be made real. Unattainable. Because let’s face it, being Black, queer and woman in this world means having to face rejection on a regular basis. What’s worse, is that this rejection often comes from people you actually want and need to accept you, family. And as time goes on, we take their rejections and make them our own. Layer the stigma of mental illness on top of that and it’s no wonder my best friend is my dog Xena.

Self-Acceptance is Possible

Up until recently, I didn’t know how to do the work of self-acceptance. My ability to do so now is thanks to the gift of group therapy and a skilled therapist who helped me to understand that learning to accept myself for who I am (and am not) IS an act of change and personal growth.

Here are 3 ways you can begin working on your own self-acceptance:

1. Acknowledge to yourself and others what you did right. Yes, that means brag a little! Be childlike about it. Kids will brag about anything including how long they can burp. Why not pat yourself on the back for getting that 10 minute walk in? 10 minutes is better than nothing.

2. Acknowledge to yourself and others what your limitations are. I often have to remind people that I have a less than optimal memory. By putting it out there, I’ve managed to avoid hard feelings from people when I can’t remember their name. My wife and kids are less frustrated when I can’t find my keys and often help me keep track of them.

3. Acknowledge to yourself and others that you’ve done the best you can with what you had and knew at the moment. No one is perfect. Failures are inevitable. But yes, you do get an “E” for effort.

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APA Reference
tneely (2013, January 8). Self-Acceptance is The Way to Grow, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 19 from

Author: tneely

Greg Woolsey
October, 7 2014 at 3:34 pm

I agree with much of what you are saying here.
I think we need to accept ourselves the way we are at present. We also need to do some self-evaluation to see where and how we need to change or improve.
No one on Earth is perfect and we all need to change in some ways and improve in others. If we are not changing, we have become stagnant, and we will atrophy.
I agree that we should not obsess with self-improvement. If we do then we may become self-critical and self-loathing. We need to love ourselves and take care of ourselves...But not to the extent of selfishness and forgetting others needs.
We need to be content, but not complacent. Striving for improvement and growth. We need to find the right balance.

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