Ever since I hit my 40s, my social media feeds seem to be filled with mantras about self-love. While all of the positivity is great, I couldn’t help but find myself questioning whether it’s true enough.
Through all my years of trying to juggle work, relationships, and parenting, I finally realized the true importance of self-acceptance, which involves embracing our whole, completely imperfect selves.
Not only that, but my personal journey also led to the discovery that self-love and self-acceptance are closely intertwined. Essentially, you need both to achieve personal growth and inner peace.
Since this discovery made such a big difference in my life, I felt it was too big to keep to myself. My hope is that my story will help you feel inspired to carve out your own path to a happier life that brings a greater sense of fulfillment.
- Self-love and self-acceptance are intertwined, both are important for your personal growth, inner peace, and fulfilling relationships.
- Self-love involves valuing yourself and developing strong boundaries whereas self-acceptance means embracing your flaws and strengths alike.
- By practicing self-love and self-acceptance consistently can lead you to improve your well-being, resilience, and confidence.
Table of Contents
What Exactly Is Self-Love?
Self-love is the practice of valuing, caring for, and being kind to yourself with the same kindness you would extend to others.
It’s all about knowing your own worth and making sure that you treat yourself with a similar level of compassion, respect, and patience that you offer to your own friends and family.
While it sounds so simple to practice self-love, the truth is that it isn’t always so easy.
In fact, I even experienced a few dark moments back in my early 30s when all of my responsibilities seemed to be too much to handle at once.
Back then, I was forced to become my own cheerleader, which is when I truly began to comprehend what the concept of love yourself really means.
Prior to this discovery, I’d tried all of the easy tricks. But, I quickly found that saying a few positive affirmations each morning wasn’t enough to turn my emotional well-being around.
Do you want to know what really made the difference?
Here’s the simple trick: I made a complete lifestyle change.
To start, I focused on my physical health by joining a local gym and switching to a healthier diet.
Then, I started setting boundaries that kept me from feeling resentful and began asserting my needs in my personal relationships. This move helped to free up more time for me to enjoy my favorite activities.
I can even recall one particular turning point in my journey toward developing more self-love.
I’d just finished a challenging project at work, which would normally cause me to move quickly on to the next big thing on my agenda.
But, this time, I paused long enough to acknowledge my accomplishment. Taking this moment allowed me to practice self-love by truly appreciating my unique qualities and inherent value instead of being self-critical.
To be honest, changing my lifestyle involved a lot of positive self-talk. I still made sure to start each day with positive affirmations to set my mood and remind myself of my strengths.
Ultimately, that’s my goal for you to achieve. Self-love is a critical part of your personal growth, and self-development can’t happen without you finding it.
What Makes Self-Love So Important for Personal Growth?
Like many people, I struggled with self-worth growing up, and I was turning 40 that is when I started to understand what self-love meant.
Once I started prioritizing self-care, I realized that self-love was essential to my entire well-being. As I practiced mindful eating, exercised, and even enjoyed a good book, I noticed that the changes made a world of difference.
The best thing about self-love is it helps improve my stress levels, my happiness skyrocketed and my health dramatically improved.
Things might seem impossible and challenging for you right now but if you start to prioritize what’s good for you, your life will change for the better as well.
One thing I want you to keep in mind is that self-love will impact your relationships, whether you like it or not. At one point in my life, I began to cut off toxic friendships that were emotionally draining.
As I did, I began to feel better which made it clear that I didn’t have to tolerate being mistreated.
In turn, my new self-love attracted positive, uplifting people into my life that filled the gap left behind by people who no longer fit my newfound joy.
What Exactly Is Self-Acceptance?
Self-acceptance is the act of embracing yourself as you truly are. It requires you to embrace who you are completely.
This means making an effort to recognize all of the parts of your personality that make you unique, including your weaknesses as well as your strengths.
For me, this meant embracing the signs of aging. My graying hair, laugh lines and even occasional bouts of forgetfulness are all just part of who I am.
In fact, those laugh lines are signs of how I’ve used my sense of humor to weather life’s storms, and those “walk into a room and wonder why you’re there” moments are reminders that I don’t have to be a perfect human.
When I think about self-acceptance, I’m reminded of the time I finished my very first half-marathon. Despite being the final one to pass the finish line, I didn’t choose to define my self-worth by that single moment.
Instead, I accepted that my pace represented that I had endurance. I also took a moment to appreciate all of the work I put into even being able to finish a race.
The journey is what mattered and not the result.
Keep in mind that this doesn’t mean you should stop striving for self-improvement. You just want to stop tying your self-worth to your achievements.
Choose to live in the present moment and embrace who you are without feeling the need to change parts of yourself just to fit into society’s expectations.
You don’t have to win the race to come out as a winner as long as you put your best efforts into the run.
Cultivating greater self-acceptance is a major component of improving your mental and emotional well-being.
Why Self-Acceptance Is So Important?
Have you ever stared at yourself in the mirror and seen nothing but flaws and imperfections?
I have, and I finally found that releasing the burden of trying to be perfect was all it took to start building greater self-acceptance.
I made a conscious choice to make my 40th decade one where self-acceptance is the cornerstone of my personal growth.
By accepting myself wholly and completely, I am more resilient and ready to bounce back from life’s curve balls.
I’ve even caught a few of those curve balls and sent them back in an effort to protect myself from taking on too much.
I fully believe that you can enjoy the same ability to manage a career setback, misunderstanding with a friend, and other life stressors when you also prioritize self-acceptance.
Key Differences Between Self-Love and Self-Acceptance
From my personal observation and experience, I noticed that people often use these two words interchangeably, but there are several key differences between the concepts.
Self-love focused on the followings:
- Taking care of what you need.
- Making yourself a priority.
- Have strict boundaries in any relationships that you’re in and be able to tell others no when it’s necessary.
- Comfortable with being alone.
Self-acceptance is all about:
- Embrace your flaws and imperfections.
- Accept your strengths and weaknesses.
- Let go of guilt, and forgive yourself for your past mistakes.
Dispelling Misconceptions About Self-Love vs Self-Acceptance
Before I start talking about the benefits of self-love and self-acceptance, I want to address some common misconceptions about these two concepts.
Practicing Self-Love Is Selfish
The term is sometimes associated with narcissism or self-centeredness, but this is far from being true.
The reality is that practicing self-love means taking care of yourself, which helps you be a stronger, more compassionate person to the people in your life.
Self-Acceptance Involves Settling for Less Than Your Best
The truth is that self-acceptance doesn’t mean that you are complacent. Instead, you’re still working on self-improvement but refuse to get bogged down by negative self-talk.
Benefits of Self-Love
With more self-love, comes greater self-confidence. Loving yourself also makes it more likely that you’ll believe in yourself and take risks to pursue your goals.
Self-love also inspires you to increase your self-care. When you love yourself, you’ll prioritize your needs and choose to make time for the activities that bring you joy.
Finally, self-love helps you improve your relationships with others when you feel empowered to show your love and compassion to people you encounter while also refusing to tolerate mistreatment.
Benefits of Self-Acceptance
Self-acceptance is just as important as self-love for your well-being. One of the biggest benefits of self-acceptance is that you develop a keener sense of self-awareness.
Being able to accept your flaws makes you more capable of recognizing your strengths and weaknesses, which drives self-improvement.
Practicing self-acceptance promotes increased resilience when you face a setback. Being able to bounce back from difficult situations also helps you be willing to take more safety risks.
You’ll also want to note that accepting yourself helps you rely less on validation and emotional support from others, which fosters more positive relationships.
When to Practice Self-Love
The simple answer to this question is all the time!
Self-love isn’t something that you reserve for special occasions, like your milestone birthdays. Instead, you should practice it in both big and small ways every day.
Here are some examples of self-care practices to try:
- Take time out for yourself each day, whether you take a bubble bath or meditate.
- Say no when someone makes a request that doesn’t align with your values.
- Set boundaries with toxic people or negative situations.
- Practice using self-talk and saying positive affirmations
When to Practice Self-Acceptance
The same goes for self-acceptance. It should be practiced all the time, not just when things are going well.
Here are some specific situations when practicing self-acceptance is especially important:
- When you make a mistake or experience a setback.
- When you’re feeling insecure or self-doubt.
- When you’re experiencing negative self-talk or self-criticism.
- When you’re comparing yourself to others or feeling inadequate.
- When you’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed.
How to Practice Self-Love
You know you should practice self-love all the time, but how to start?
I recommend trying the below actionable tips to inject more self-love into your life, it helped me so hopefully it will help you too.
- Practice self-care: take time each day to do something that makes you feel good, whether it’s a workout, a bubble bath, or a favorite hobby.
- Set boundaries: learn to say no to things that don’t align with your values or priorities, and don’t be afraid to set boundaries with toxic people or situations.
- Practice positive self-talk: challenge negative self-talk with positive affirmations and self-talk, such as “I am worthy and deserving of love and happiness.”
- Celebrate your accomplishments big or small: Take time to celebrate your accomplishments, no matter how small they may seem.
- Practice forgiveness: this is a hard one for me, but one thing I want you to keep in mind is that forgiving is for yourself not for the other person. By forgiving yourself, you set yourself free from past mistakes. This will allow you to focus on moving forward with self-compassion and acceptance.
How to Practice Self-Acceptance
Loving yourself start with accepting who you are first and foremost.
I encourage you to take steps towards the below tips to start breath in self-acceptance into your life:
- Embrace your flaws and imperfections: recognize that your flaws and imperfections are a natural part of being human, and learn to embrace them rather than judge or criticize yourself for them.
- Practice mindfulness: take time each day to be present in the moment and observe your thoughts and feelings without judgment.
- Practice self-compassion: Treat yourself with kindness and compassion, just as you would a good friend.
- Focus on your strengths: recognize your strengths and unique qualities, and focus on cultivating them rather than fixating on your weaknesses.
- Learn from your mistakes: rather than dwelling on your mistakes or shortcomings, focus on learning from them and using them as opportunities for growth and self-improvement.
Using Self-Love and Self-Acceptance For a Healthier Mindset
Both self-love and self-acceptance are incredibly powerful on their own, yet they take on even greater power when you combine the two.
These two essential concepts work together to help you develop a healthier mindset that infuses your entire well-being with positivity.
Make sure that you don’t try to choose between the two when you begin implementing your healthy lifestyle strategies.
When you focus on both, you’ll see faster results in improving your well-being and be in the right mental state for hitting your goals.
Start Embracing Both Self-Love and Self-Acceptance
Unlike other types of self-improvement, you don’t have to wait a single moment to begin embracing self-love and self-acceptance.
Since these concepts come from within you and don’t rely on anyone or anything else, you can start practicing them both today.
Whether you’ve been struggling with anxiety, self-doubt, or trying to figure out your next steps in life, practicing self-acceptance and self-love brings new insights that make it easier to overcome your challenges.
To start, acknowledge that you are worth it. Then, start using the strategies you’ve just learned to begin reinforcing the concept that you are deserving and capable of feeling confident and strong.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is self-acceptance and why is it important?
Self-acceptance involves embracing yourself as is, including your weaknesses and strengths. It enhances your mental and emotional well-being, boosts your self-confidence, and helps you deal with life stressors more resiliently.
How do self-love and self-acceptance differ?
Self-love is about prioritizing yourself, setting boundaries, and being comfortable being alone, while self-acceptance involves embracing your imperfections, accepting your strengths and weaknesses, and letting go of your past mistakes.
How can I practice self-love and self-acceptance?
You can start practicing self-love by having a self-care routine, building healthy boundaries, using positive self-talk, celebrating achievements, and practicing forgiveness. For self-acceptance, it’s a good start to embrace your flaws, practice mindfulness, self-compassion, focus on your strengths, and learn from your mistakes.