Improving Self Esteem Lesson 1 Self Acceptance

Accepting Yourself

Lesson 1

Your self-esteem is your opinion of yourself. People with healthy self-esteem exude confidence, charisma, and kindness. People with low self-esteem may exhibit unhealthy behaviors, such as issues managing anger, depression, anxiety, or even coping with obstacles and substance abuse.

 

A healthy self-esteem carries you much more easily through life than a low self-esteem. The good news is that your self-esteem can change with time and effort. This course will provide some groundwork and help you visualize what healthy self-esteem looks like.

Tips for Establishing Healthy Self-Esteem

Before we begin, we have included a few basic tips for cultivating self-esteem. Keep this list on hand so you can look back on it, both during the course and after having completed it.

  • Hang on to and develop compassion for yourself and others. Allow yourself mistakes and setbacks. You’re only human! Setbacks and mistakes are lessons, offering important information for us to learn and grow.
  • Value yourself and others. Value your opinions and the opinions of others.  Know and accept there will be disagreements along the way.
  • Allow yourself time to resolve conflicts. Note moments of self-criticism and defeat: don’t let these thoughts overwhelm other thoughts.
  • Affirm, say, or write down what you are grateful for in yourself.  These can include qualities like, I am patient, I am deserving, I am accepting of who I am. Making these affirmations in the present tense and not in the future will help empower your daily life.
  • Take time to learn from your mistakes. Analyze past events and ask yourself how you can improve. 
  • Connect to your entire self. Accept your self-critical thoughts and all of your feelings, even emotions you think are negative or “bad.” Know they are just thoughts and feelings. Know that they are likely temporary and can most certainly be transferred into positive action. 
  • Cultivate friendships and a support system.
  • Focus on healthy and positive thoughts. Think loved, grateful, peaceful, patient, happy and caring thoughts.
  • Do things you enjoy and that make you feel good.
  • Take care of your physical body and health.

Self-Acceptance

As you may have guessed from the tip-list above, the most important step to healthy self-esteem is self-acceptance.

Self-acceptance entails accepting yourself, warts and all. Imagine yourself as your own good friend. Be as open and patient with your own shortcomings and challenges as you would to a close friend of yours. Also open yourself to the great things about yourself. You may take for granted how much patience you have for your children or forget to acknowledge how hard you work. 

Another way to look at this is to think about compassion. Compassion for yourself can allow you to more freely accept setbacks you may experience and decrease your negative self-talk. Self-compassion is about bringing love and understanding to yourself.  It is starting to allow yourself to be imperfect and still love yourself.  It is understanding that you are good enough while still pushing yourself to change and grow.

Let’s Get Physical

Here is a ten-minute practice that helps with both self-acceptance and self-awareness. It’s important to keep these two skills honed.  You can’t accept what you aren’t aware of. 

  • Find a good time and place to sit: the ground or a chair. Ensure your spine is supported and if you’re on a chair, your feet are flat on the ground.
  • Make sure your seat is comfortable, and that it won’t cut off circulation after a while or make you excessively uncomfortable in any way. 
  • Your spine should be straight and relaxed, with your shoulders sitting softly back. You should be relatively comfortable. This posture mimics the confidence and calmness and acceptance you are attempting to achieve. It also helps decrease drowsiness and allows your breath to flow freely.
  • Begin the practice by focusing on your breathing, how it enters your body and escapes. 
  • Accept your breathing. Do not change it, do not deepen it, do not make it quicker. Accept your breath entirely. This may be more challenging than it sounds. 
  • After a few minutes, you may feel you want to move your legs, to shift your weight, and to get more comfortable. Maybe your hair has fallen around your face and your cheek itches. Instead of succumbing to the desire to move, accept your discomfort.
  • After several minutes, you may feel you want to stand and leave this practice. Accept your desire to leave but remain seated.
  • Likewise, try to accept all thoughts that may fill your head. Notice them but don’t give them too much of your attention. Gently bring your attention back to noticing your breath.

This practice will train your mind and yourself to be more stable and less reactive to impulsive thinking or actions, such as negative self-talk or perceived discrimination or judgments placed upon you by others. You will begin to distinguish between outside voices and your own.

Exercise

Complete the above practice at least three times in the next few days. After each session, write about your experience in a notebook. What do you notice?

Practice being objective with others and with yourself, focusing on the facts of the situation and keeping alternative perspectives and voices in mind. Remember to practice compassion for yourself and others, as well as empathy for yourself and others.

 

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IF YOU ARE STRUGGLING AND NEED IMMEDIATE HELP, YOU ARE NOT ALONE

You can reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255Trans Lifeline at 877-565-8860 (U.S.) or 877-330-6366 (Canada), or The Trevor Project at 866-488-7386. If you’d like to talk to a peer, warmline.org contains links to warmlines in every state. If you don’t like talking on the phone, you can reach the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741-741. 

NOTE: Many of these resources utilize restrictive interventions, like active rescues (wellness or welfare checks) involving law enforcement or emergency services. If this is a concern for you, you can ask if this is a possibility at any point in your conversation. Trans Lifeline does not implement restrictive interventions for suicidal people without express consent. A warmline is also less likely to do this, but you may want to double-check their policies.