Are you someone who when faced with strong criticism, lack of success or negative self-perceptions of body appearance keep telling yourself ‘I am hopeless’? Or instead, at these moments, are you someone who chooses to think ‘I accept myself no matter what’?

We can for different reasons when faced with one or more negative events, think of ourselves as a failure or hopeless. This is called self-depreciation. This negative attitude can create feelings of depression and anxiety.

A lack of self-acceptance can hold you back in every area of your life. It affects your relationships, career, the way you perceive yourself and how you show up in the world. It affects your confidence and can prevent you from reaching your full potential.

But what is self-acceptance, and how to go about it?

Self-acceptance means acknowledging that you are a complex, imperfect human being capable of making mistakes as well as significant accomplishments. It is the realistic awareness of your strengths and weaknesses.

You accept yourself despite your imperfections and because of your uniqueness. You refrain from self-criticism, avoiding rating your self-worth based on other people thinking negatively of what you do, the way you look, or when you perceive you do not live up to your own expectations.

Self-acceptance is not an excuse for accepting your bad or inappropriate behaviour. In fact, with strong self-acceptance, it is much easier to realistically evaluate what you do and to work on changing behaviour that is inappropriate or self-defeating.

Beliefs about self-worth are the most difficult to change. Fortunately, armed with self-awareness and tools for changing self-belief, most people can be taught how to overcome this tendency. The key insight for change is knowing that you do, in fact, have the power to choose self-acceptance – or not.

‘To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others; you just need to accept yourself’. – Thich Nhat Nahn