THE BENEFITS OF SELF-ACCEPTANCE AND HOW TO GET THERE

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I’m writing this blog in the middle of a lazy Tuesday afternoon.  For mid-May in Palm Springs, the temperature hovers at a “cool” 83 degrees.  Yesterday, my family and I had some terrifying moments.  Hearing a roaring noise and the sound of medal being torn painfully from its base, we all were sure the “Big One” (earthquake) had finally hit. When silence descended, I jumped to look out the window. It hadn’t been an earthquake but a torrential windstorm.  Laying in the middle of the pool was the 20 foot long medal awning that had previously been attached permanently (or so we thought) to the back of our house.  I was disturbed by the destruction but awed, as always, by Mother Nature’s power.  The wind shortly calmed and about one hour later, I was with a client when I heard a newly familiar sound. Oh no, not again!  This time it was the awning from the front of the house that we lost.  That is why, for today, I’m delighted that the air is still and the wind is not turning a leaf. 

THE BENEFITS OF SELF-ACCEPTANCE AND HOW TO GET THERE

Self-acceptance occurs when you accept all of your attributes, whether negative or positive.  It includes believing in your capacities, accepting your body and protecting yourself from criticism.

I truly wonder how many of us could honestly say we fully meet all of these aspects.  Do you completely accept yourself, all of you, the real you?  A guesstimate would probably be that most of us don’t meet the definition.

We wouldn’t have to dig around very long before we found out that underlying our lack of self-acceptance are our negative automatic thoughts, together with our subconscious’ irrational core beliefs. The vast majority of these, of course, we picked up very early in our lives, during our childhood years.

Not only does life flow more smoothly
and the sun shine more brightly
in the sky when we accept ourselves,
but we’re also more emotionally positive
and have healthier brains!

When we lack self-acceptance, our psychological well-being suffers. With negative feelings about ourselves, the brain areas helping control emotions and stress have less gray matter.  So, low self-acceptance disrupts emotional control and increases stress signals in the brain.  Obviously, the consequences are negative ones both emotionally and physically.

Fortunately, there are some ways to increase self-acceptance.  One of these ways is called self-regulation.  With this method, you would suppress negative emotions, such as self-anger, and would instead focus on positive elements of yourself.  You could also engage in reframing.  An example of this would be trying to downplay the negativity of criticism and instead looking at how it could help you develop and become better.

I don’t rely on this approach when working with my clients because our self-control is often less powerful than we think.  The negative thoughts may remain deeply buried in the subconscious still having an impact on us.  Remember, what we resist, persists.  So, the buried negative thinking and beliefs continue to prohibit the development of self-acceptance.  My efforts instead focus on helping my clients actually develop new positive neural pathways generating new positive thoughts, feelings and actions while diminishing the presence of negative neural pathways.

Another approach is to focus on being self-transcendent.  This involves developing a connectedness with the world and not relying on external things to define us.  The intention is to attain authentic oneness with a system, such as family, work or the community.  Physical improvements in the brain can arise with healthy changes in neurotransmitters.

Finally, two types of meditation can enhance self-acceptance:  mindfulness meditation and loving-kindness meditation.  Mindfulness meditation involves merely observing emotions and thoughts non-judgmentally and imagining letting them go.  Mindfulness meditation has been observed to increase activity in the left hemisphere increasing positive affect and also calming down the amygdala, a part of the brain involved with the stress response.

Loving-kindness meditation…just saying the words has

 

a calming effect!

Self-Acceptance

This type of meditation increases self-compassion thereby boosting self-acceptance.  It does this by modifying brain activation in areas that perceive and manage emotions and by boosting brain connectivity.

So, now you know of various techniques you can use to increase your self-acceptance and obtain the psychological and physical health benefits that come from it.  Not all techniques work for everyone, so you may need to try a few.  Best wishes on this important journey to loving all of yourself!

BRAINIAC QUOTE

“The truth is: Belonging starts with self-acceptance. Your level of belonging, in fact, can never be greater than your level of self-acceptance, because believing that you’re enough is what gives you the courage to be authentic, vulnerable and imperfect.” – Brene Brown

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