We’re critical of this part of ourselves – this body part, that aspect of our personality.
We don’t like ourselves when we do that behaviour – get loud, tell white lies.
Worst of all, for some people, there’s a complete lack of acceptance of ourselves as a whole – we can say “I don’t like myself” and mean it.
In the world of psychology, there’s an idea that all behaviours serve a purpose. So what could be the purpose of a lack of self-acceptance?
If we don’t like something we generally try to change it. So if we’re hating on some aspect of ourselves, we may have the (hidden) agenda of trying to change that part of ourselves. We don’t see it as socially acceptable and we expect that others will find it unacceptable too.
The problem with this is that change doesn’t come easy from a place where we’re not accepting. Feeling as though we’re unacceptable in some way creates shame. And shame is one of the biggest barriers to change.
We’re much better off trying to recognise that there are some things that will never be perfect and that imperfect is ok.
Carl Jung spoke about the shadow self – the self we try to hide from others. His premise was that we embrace this side, accept it for all that it is. Because it’s part of the human condition and there’s no point struggling against it. We might not like to have the shadow self be the most prominent part of our personality but we don’t have to hate it either.
So how do we accept ourselves?
We can remember that shaming ourselves won’t help.
We can look at whether our standards are way too high. Of course we will feel unacceptable if we’re always falling short of ridiculously high standards.
We can ask if we would accept that or understand that in someone else. Often we would be understanding of others but not us.
We can try using self-compassion. See Kristen Neff on YouTube or Sounds True if you struggle with this.
We can remember accepting doesn’t mean you have to like it. Maybe you could work on liking that part of you because ironically that’s when it’s most likely to change.