Cultivate Self-Acceptance

Practice of the Week
Cultivate Self-Acceptance

SLOGANS TO LIVE BY: Carry these reminders at all times. These practices don't require setting aside a separate substantial chunk of time -- but they will slow you down a bit (and that's a good thing.) Resolve to get stronger at living by these maxims, day by day. Sometimes make one of them the focus of your daily journaling.
"Acceptance doesn't mean resignation; it means understanding that something is what it is and that there's got to be a way through it." (Michael J. Fox)
Adapted from Dr. Larry Berkelhammer (Originally posted HERE):

For those of us who have spent a lifetime rejecting our inner experiences, it’s not easy to change. When we form long-term habits of doing that, it can seem like a Sisyphean task to change and start practicing healthier responses.

But experts in the field have found effective ways to accomplish this. Countless people have done it, and with practice, there’s no reason you can’t break the cycle of self-rejection.

Step One: Agree to be willing to try another way.
Step Two: Once the willingness is established, identify ways in which your old responses are attempts to reduce suffering by avoiding certain internal experiences.
Step Three: Identify ways in which these entrenched and automatic responses have the paradoxical effect of increasing suffering.

Once we understand this process, we have good motivation to practice acceptance.

Following are some acceptance practices.
  • Set an intention to consciously practice acceptance in your daily life—acceptance of your thoughts, your emotional state, your physical condition, and any other elements of your life you may be tempted to reject.
  • When you’re feeling anxious or becoming aware of self-deprecating thoughts, put your hand over your heart area, accept the fact that these thoughts and feelings are occurring, and extend compassion to yourself.
  • A method that works well for some people is to start a journal of negative self-talk. The healing value is in the writing; it’s not important to ever read the journal.
  • Apologize to yourself. We commonly apologize to others for any negative, judgmental criticisms we may express; doing so helps maintain good relationships. Apologizing to ourselves makes for a healthy, nurturing relationship with ourselves.
  • Make an agreement with yourself to be more accepting, appreciative, and understanding of yourself.
  • Change your relationship to unpleasant thoughts and feelings by learning to see them as clouds floating across the sky—completely harmless. This can only be learned through a dedicated mindfulness practice, which takes time, so until you develop that skill it’s important to practice self-compassion by noting your experience. For example, you might say to yourself, “I’m really suffering right now as a result of that thought and this feeling.”
  • Build your mindfulness skills. Practice mindful awareness of thoughts, beliefs, images, feelings, emotions, and sensations, including all sensory experiences regardless of whether they are based in the present environment—internal or external—or in a memory of a past sensory experience.
  • Practice mindful awareness of the attributions or interpretations you put on what you’re thinking and feeling.
  • Self-acceptance is best developed by being in relationships with individuals who are accepting and respectful of others. This applies to romantic relationships as well as work and play relationships. Make sure your relationships are healthy and supportive.
For Journaling

Try starting a "daily nonjudgmental reflection" (as described in video of Michelle Charfen's TED talk). First thing in the morning, make two columns in your journal. In the first column, write down every judgmental thought you had about yourself the day before. Then reflect on the behavior about which judged yourself. What were you feeling and needing when you did that? Next to each judgmental thought you had, write down the feelings and needs you were having when you did the action you judged. Then write down what you might do next time, in a similar situation, to address those feelings and needs.

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Michelle Charfen's TED talk on unconditional positive regard and self-acceptance in parenting (19:20):


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