Higher self-esteem can only come when we judge our self-worth.
So when we decide to pursue higher self-esteem, we actually decide to follow a worldview that says, “Our self-worth can be changed and influenced by something external to us. Things like achievements and successes can determine our worthiness”.
The problem with this worldview is that it’s easy to live a life where we:
- Feel we are not good enough (low self-esteem), or
- Carry fear, anxiety or worry, because a future rejection or failure may mean we are no longer good enough (high self-esteem).
The alternative to self-esteem is unconditional self-acceptance.
With unconditional self-acceptance, we understand self-worth does not come with any terms and conditions. Instead, we see that we are already enough, and accept ourselves for all of who we are.
Finding unconditional self-acceptance
We move away from the pursuit of higher self-esteem and towards unconditional self-acceptance when we truly believe:
- My self-worth can never be rated using external criteria. Doing so is illogical: I am already enough.
- There is no rational reason for me to feel bad about or change the core of who I am. Any “imperfections” I have actually help to make me more unique, special and truly beautiful.
- My actions, achievements and failures can be rated and improved when they help me to live a more fulfilling life. They can not be used to define me or my worthiness.
- Mistakes are normal. Indeed, they are essential for my journey, growth and development.
- I am so much more than the thoughts, opinions and judgements of others. Opinions and judgements can not define me, as they are only a reflection of the person who is doing the judging.
Change your beliefs, change your world
Make no mistake. The journey towards unconditional self-acceptance is a difficult one.
For most of us, it requires a change to the core beliefs that we hold about ourselves. Beliefs that are very different to what much of society tells us is true. And indeed, I still struggle with it, almost every day.
But it is so important.
The benefits of self-acceptance
Unconditional self-acceptance is often the pathway for:
- Letting go of comparison, and being mindful and grateful for what you have right now.
- Overcoming the anxiety that comes from hiding who you truly are, and finding the courage to be your authentic self.
- Rising above the fear of failure, and finding confidence and belief within yourself to pursue what you really want in this life.
- Seeing that rejection does not ever mean you are unworthy, inadequate or unlovable, and helping you to find hope and resilience during difficult times.
- Being vulnerable and open with others, and inviting the opportunity for you to cultivate a deeper sense of connection.
- Letting go of judgement, and allowing the creativity, skills and talents that lie within you to be seen and blossom.
Self-acceptance: the gift that keeps on giving
The last (but for me, most important) outcome of unconditional self-acceptance is that it helps us to become more accepting of others, too:
- When we see ourselves as enough, we get better at seeing others as enough.
- When we do not judge ourselves, we get better at not judging others.
- When we no longer feel bad or insecure about who we are, we lose the need to make others feel bad or insecure about who they are.
When we become accepting of those around us, we give them the most amazing gift: we help them to see that they are enough, and should be so proud and accepting for all of who they are, too. And with greater self-acceptance, they can also help to spread this gift.
The very first step to making the world a more accepting place is to be the change that you want to see in the world: become more accepting of you.
After all, you are enough. Exactly the way that you are.