There is a tendency in much of the literature and information on self esteem and confidence building to overlook the importance – the necessity – of recognising how vital self acceptance is as a part of the process of addressing and overcoming negative self belief.
The relevance and importance of self acceptance in successful self esteem and confidence building is quite adequately encapsulated in the old saying “A house built on sand shall not stand”, meaning in this case that you’re far more likely to succeed in building a positive and lasting self belief and self image only after you’ve undergone a rigorously honest self appraisal of who and where you really are in life at the present time.
This honest self appraisal, this acceptance of yourself as you really are – warts and all – creates a solid psychological foundation upon which you can start to effectively build your self esteem and a new positive self image.
Without it, any program of self esteem and confidence building is inherently flawed because so long as you continue on an ongoing basis to deny the reality – to refuse to accept – certain elements or features of your personality and/or your appearance that you are uncomfortable with, then this denial, this non acceptance, will act as a mental block and will continue to hinder or prevent your self development and growth.
This is not to suggest that you should try to force yourself to “like” the things about yourself that you don’t like, but is more about understanding and appreciating that things about yourself that you see as being negative only maintain their power to damage your confidence only so long as you try to mentally fight them or run away from them, in other words refuse to accept them as part of yourself.
By learning to absorb and accept these things – not “liking” but accepting them – you begin the process of dissolving their power to damage your self belief and self image.
The Mirror Technique
An exercise which is widely regarded as being effective in helping to bring about self acceptance and which is particularly useful for those whose self esteem and confidence has been negatively impacted by some aspect of their physical appearance involves the use of a full length mirror.
If you have one or can get hold of one, make some private time and stand before it completely naked, unadorned and without the use of any soft or complimentary lighting, makeup or anything else.
As you cast your gaze over your face and body, make a mental note of the feelings and thoughts that flow through your mind. If you’re like almost anyone else, you’ll find that some parts or aspects of yourself are harder to look at than others. This is common and doesn’t necessarily have any bearing on overall self confidence as such, but some people live with some element or aspect of themselves – particularly their physical selves – which they just don’t like and have felt unable to accept, thereby causing the “thing” to acquire such negative power and depth in their minds that their self esteem and confidence has been seriously damaged by it.
It could be something to do with being over or under weight, or signs of getting older or physical damage of some sort or any one of numerous “defects” that you see. Whatever it is that you’re seeing and don’t like, being in touch with the emotions that these things bring out is difficult, and the first urge is to look away, to deny, to refuse to accept.
However, start this exercise by remembering that the purpose of it is not to somehow force yourself to like everything about yourself, but to bring yourself to accept yourself completely for who and what you are, both what you like and don’t like.
Take a deep breath and make the effort to focus your gaze on whichever aspect of yourself it is that is causing you particular problems. If you’re unable to do it this time, tell yourself that you’re coming right back again tomorrow to confront it, and do just that. Do the mirror exercise again next day and again make the effort to focus right on to the most problematic aspect or area.
Facing Down The Demons
When you’ve begun to focus on whatever it is that’s hard for you to confront, make a deliberate, conscious effort to overcome the urge to look away. Maintain your focus on it and, while actually looking in the mirror, verbally say these words: “I completely and absolutely accept myself whatever my imperfections may be”. Maintain your focus and while doing so repeat the statement clearly and deliberately about 10 times, and say it with meaning and conviction.
If you do this once or preferably twice daily – say morning and night – for about a week or so then before long you will begin to feel for yourself the correlation between self esteem and self acceptance. It will be difficult at first, but soon you’ll find yourself becoming more relaxed and comfortable in your own skin, and will be much less concerned about what others may say or think about you or your appearance. Not in an arrogant way, but in the way that’s derived from being in harmony with yourself, with self acceptance itself.
You’ll also find yourself feeling much more motivated and confident about making actual positive change to the areas of your body or appearance that you’re not happy with. For example, a full, complete and conscious acceptance of being overweight makes it much easier to actually lose weight than it would be if you remained in some kind of denial about it. And with regard to things that can’t be changed, you’ll find that acceptance of them removes their power to make you feel in any way inferior or in some way “damaged goods”.
Following through with this exercise for a week or two often brings highly positive results. It will be difficult, even painful at first, but as it starts to get easier, as your conscious focusing on your “demon” combined with the simultaneous repetition of the affirmation begins to filter through to the subconscious, you will begin to realise that through self acceptance you’re beating and overcoming the problem or problems which have been holding you back and damaging your self esteem and confidence.
Even if a problem with negative self image has little or no actual connection with anything to do with physical appearance, this exercise will still help towards self acceptance in a general way.
You can’t make self doubt or fear of something go away by trying to fight it or deny it. By instead accepting the reality of yourself you become much stronger and more powerful. Self acceptance gives you the quiet but remarkable strength that comes only to people who are in harmony with themselves, and healthy self esteem naturally and inevitably comes with it.