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How To Practice Self-Acceptance (And Why That's Not The Same As Complacency)

Ryan Haddon
Written by Ryan Haddon
Ryan Haddon is hypnotherapist, meditation teacher, and spiritual coach, with over 16 years of experience with clients around the world.
Woman Meditating Outside

Radical acceptance means noticing how life is imminently unfolding without resistance, even if we don't like or condone the way things are in any given moment. Applying this principle during a pandemic can be particularly difficult. How can we start to accept our situation—and ourselves—during this challenging time filled with anxiety, uncertainty, and fear?

Why self-acceptance is not the same thing as complacency.

Now more than ever is the time for all of us to practice radical self-acceptance so that we can train ourselves to find an inner stability despite shaky, unpredictable outer circumstances. Ultimately, we are responsible for claiming our hidden wounds, which are what catapult us into evolving individually, and in turn, collectively.

Radical self-acceptance is the opposite of avoiding responsibility or giving up in self-defeat. It's about pushing against old ways of being, knowing they are what opens the door to healing at the deepest level. In doing so, we give ourselves the opportunity to integrate our shadow aspects and live more authentically. If each of us has the courage to practice radical self-acceptance and fight the urge to repress, numb, react, excuse, or deny, we then have the capacity to become better citizens and contributors to our communities.


4 ways to practice radical self-acceptance:

1. Slow down whenever you feel yourself start to self-judge.

In the moment when you feel your usual contraction of self-judgment after you've said or done something you wish you hadn't, breathe. Be honest with yourself about the feelings you're having. Notice them and stay with them, without minimizing or denying them. Then practice being open to yourself and giving yourself. permission to just be as you are. No excuses. No rationalizations. No avoidance.

This is a powerful phrase to repeat to shift old patterns of negative thinking: "This is the situation, and I deeply and completely accept myself as I am."

2. Remember that every setback is a learning opportunity.

The next time you do, try to foster an inner dialogue that moves you into problem-solving mode instead of a habitual shame spiral. Here are three constructive things you can say when your perfectionism or self-judgment pops up:

  • I wonder what I was feeling when I did that?
  • That's OK; I'm still learning.
  • I wonder what I will do differently next time?

3. Avoid comparison.

It's easy to get caught up in what others are accomplishing, comparing ourselves only to come up short. Our self-esteem inevitably takes a blow when we do this. It's vital to remember that we can't compare our insides to someone else's outsides, as we have no idea what's going on in their inner world. Let's instead measure our success by our own yardstick and reaffirm our own personal goals.

You can always redirect yourself out of an obsessive negative mental loop by asking: "What am I thinking? What am I feeling? What's my next right thought or action?" Then, bring the intentionality back to your own unique journey.

4. Lean on the practices that remind you that thoughts are fleeting.

The next time you feel self-critical, try a practice that can lead you into another state of mind that's more positive and remind you that thoughts are fleeting. It can be meditation, tapping, walking, or being of service to others.

Above all, remember you are a powerful being here to shift and shape this new world order we're creating after this pandemic abates. Try to be as present with yourself as possible during this time, moving into self-acceptance so you can show up in your center. Radical self-acceptance means being thankful for your assets, mistakes, misunderstandings, failings, and everything that's brought you to now. It's the epitome of compassion in action, and it's how we up-level into the highest version ourselves.

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