Belonging Starts with Self-Acceptance
Belonging. We all strive for a sense of belonging, to feel part of a tight-knit community that we trust to offer us love and support in all phases of our life. But it takes courage to let your guard down and show the real “you” to the world so you can find your people and join a group where you can truly fit in and feel you belong.
Brené Brown, author of the book “Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead,” had this to say about belonging: “Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.”
Those powerful words ring true. In order to feel we belong somewhere, we first have feel comfortable in our own skin and truly accept ourselves for who we are before we can ever expect anyone else to accept us into the group.
So let’s explore the concept of “belonging” as a journey of self-acceptance.
What is the Meaning of Self-Acceptance?
Self-acceptance means accepting all attributes about yourself, positive or negative. You accept that you have made mistakes and that you have flaws, but you do not let them define you. You accept yourself without judgment. It is only by accepting ourselves that we can begin the process of meaningful self-improvement. To fully accept yourself and your flaws does NOT mean that you condone bad behavior or embrace unhealthy actions. Accepting those less savory aspects of yourself is the first and most important step in improving that which you don’t like about yourself.
8 Ways to Learn How to Accept Yourself
Learning to accept yourself for who you are can bring peace and calm to your life. Here are eight ways to practice self-acceptance:
- Forgive yourself: If you’ve hurt someone or acted in ways you’re not proud of, forgiving yourself doesn’t mean you condone your behavior. It means you accept what you’ve done, take responsibility, and give yourself permission to move on.
- Practice self-compassion: Give yourself warmth and understanding during difficult times. Talk to yourself like you would to a friend, and give yourself compassionate advice.
- Lean into mindfulness: Mindfulness means being in the moment — right here, right now. Mindfulness also involves thoughtfully creating your purpose. Set your purpose for the next day each night before you go to sleep. It will give you direction and intention.
- Acknowledge and love your abilities: Whatever your strengths are — no matter how big or small — you should write them down in gratitude. When you’re struggling to find self-acceptance, this list is a reminder of all the wonderful things you contribute to the world. Be proud of them.
- Ignore your inner critic: Author Brené Brown said, “Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging.” Don’t give in to shame or negative thoughts. When you feel self-criticism coming on, take a deep breath and think about what you would tell a friend who was thinking about themselves in that manner. Banish the criticism.
- Cultivate your inner circle: Surround yourself with family and friends you can trust and share your deepest thoughts and concerns with. Lean on people who see the good in you so you’ll see the good in you.
- Move on from disappointments: When your hopes and dreams aren’t met, it’s easy to feel lost. Don’t wallow in self-pity. Allow yourself to mourn, then move on from unsatisfied aspirations. Establish a new goal, and start working toward that. Turing aspiration into action gives you purpose.
- Gain perspective on your limitations: Accepting your flaws and failures doesn’t mean you’re settling for less. In fact, knowing your limitations sets the foundation for healthy mental wellness.
Learning to accept ALL of who you are can be challenging. There will always be parts of you that you you’re not satisfied with. Remember, you are a unique, wonderful work-in-progress! Embrace the present, gain perspective on the past, and set goals for a positive future. You are worthy of love and friendship and belonging. Start your journey to belonging by learning to accept yourself today. Visit our website at www.optimumhealth.org, and call us at (800) 588-0809 to make your