As we enter this last week of the month, so too comes the conclusion of our Body Talk series. We’ve discussed listening to our bodies. And we learned how to nourish it with whole, nutrient-dense foods. Last week we dove into the topic of exercise and appropriate rest. And sure, these concepts are great and dandy in theory. But making them a part of our everyday routine is a bit of a challenge. Which is why for this last week, we wanted to cover a topic of much greater significance. Body Talk: self-love and acceptance.
Okay. We know this topic is a bit of a curveball – especially after talking about food and exercise for two weeks. But self-love and self-acceptance are the two keys that hold our entire well-being in place. Without self-love and acceptance, we honestly don’t have much of anything. How can we care for our bodies if we don’t accept them? And how can our mental health stay strong without self-love?
What Is Self-Acceptance Anyway?
Self-acceptance is a little tricky. Many of us confuse it with self-esteem. Self-esteem refers to the value and worth we see in ourselves. On the other hand, self-acceptance is the idea of a global affirmation of self. Meaning when we are accepting, we embrace every single facet of ourselves – not just the more positive, “worthwhile” parts.
Self-acceptance knows no limits. It is free and unconditional. Through it, we can recognize our perceived flaws and weaknesses. But the awareness puts no hold on our self-worth. We are able to fully accept ourselves all the same.
There is a bit of irony in the nature of finding true self-acceptance and love. And that is in order to genuinely improve self-love, you have to explore the parts of yourself you aren’t yet able to accept. It’s only when we stop putting blame on and judging ourselves, that we can be more secure in the sense of who we truly are.
And the great news is that self-acceptance is something we can nurture and grow. It’s a skill that can be practiced. And through practice, can flourish and thrive. So here are five ways to practice Body Talk: Self-Love and Acceptance
1. Set Your Intentions
Self-love begins with intention. It is crucial to set the intention that we are willing to shift and change. We want to set the goal that our inner dialogues of blame, doubt, and shame, evolve into allowance, tolerance, and acceptance. The intention acts as a continual reminder that self-loathing can’t lead to a happy and fulfilled life.
2. Celebrate Your Strengths
We are generally better at remembering criticisms over compliments. And in doing so, we focus on our shortcomings rather than our strengths. When we fail at seeing our own strengths, self-worth begins to dwindle, and we lose sight of that self-love we want to cultivate.
The best way to practice this is by simply writing down your strengths and abilities. And if that feels too difficult, try this modification. Ease up on yourself and only commit one thing to the list each day. Start with something basic. Maybe you make the best brownies. Or perhaps you’re a really good listener. As the list evolves, we remember the wonderful things about us and begin ease focus on the negative.
3. Create a Support System
They say you’re supposed to cut the toxic people from your life for a reason. You have to surround yourself with those who think the world of you. Find the people who accept you, believe in you, and love you. It’s much easier to love yourself when you’re continually shown kindness, care, and support.
The mental shift that follows is incredible. You see yourself in a much different light when you’re tribe continually brings you up. Instead of them hoping you trip and fall on your face.
4. Forgive Yourself
Repeat after me.
I am only human.
No one is perfect.
I deserve love, respect, and happiness.
And repeat that as many times as needed. Past regrets can prevent us from finding self-acceptance. Forgive yourself. Feel the feelings associated with it. And let them go as best you can. It doesn’t matter what the grievance is. The only thing that’s important is to learn from the mistake and use that mistake to help you grow.
We can’t change the past. But we can change how we act in the future.
5. Shush Your Inner Critic
I know. This is an extremely difficult ask. Many of us actually equate our inner critic with our voice of reason. We think our inner critic is telling us the truth. But if your “voice of reason” is telling you things you would never say to a loved one, it’s not your “voice of reason.” Our inner critic isn’t honest or sincere. It’s harsh. And it’s extremely judgmental.
And while we may never be able to fully silence that inner critic, there are ways to quiet it. Try choosing a realistic mantra. One that is calming and encouraging when your inner critic rears its dishonest head.
For example, try this one. “I am only human. And I am doing the best I can. And that is all I can do.”
Other Things to Try
If you’re feeling up to the challenge, try these other methods too:
- Validate your feelings
- Create judgment-free zones where you can share without judgment
- Listen to and respect our inner experience
- Create a gratitude list
- Commit to physical and mental health
- Reassure ourselves that what we are experiencing will eventually pass
And Let Us Help You Find Some Body Talk: Self-Love and Acceptance!
Cristina Panaccione and Associates has two locations in the South Hills. We would love to meet with you and help you start cultivating some “body talk: self-love and acceptance”. As I said earlier, every single one of us deserves love, respect, and happiness. But it has to stem from within. We are currently accepting a limited number of new patients, so check out our videos. This is where you can learn more about how we can help you start finding some self-acceptance.
Amber Chapman earned her Master’s Degree from Waynesburg University in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor and a Certified Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor. She has been a practicing therapist for over 17 years, helping others find balance in all areas of life.