The Happiness Explorer
How to…get more self-acceptance
By Lydia Kimmerling
Bring to mind someone you love, maybe a sibling or a parent, or a partner or your best friend and now ask yourself: do I always like this person? Commonly we don’t always like the people we love, because we don’t have to like them to love them. And then consider how you are with this person, even when you’re not feeling all the love for them. Are you still thoughtful, kind, generous or respectful — as well as you can be I imagine.
That’s because generally we do a good job of showing acts of love to the people we love, even if we don’t always like them. But what about if we turn this around and back at the relationship you have with yourself. I call this your ‘selfationship’ — your relationship with self.
“Lydia I know that I need to love myself more, but I don’t know how!” I’ve heard this so many times from clients and those who take my courses or attend my events. Having more self-love is a common desire and yet so many of us feel stuck with it.
I think my selfationship started to break down at around the age of 12 and it wasn’t until I was in my late twenties that I realised I needed to love myself more. I had hit a crossroads with no idea of which way to turn except for the nagging feeling that I needed to turn towards myself. I hated myself and had no idea how I would ever be able to accept who I was. I was out of control around alcohol and sugar and I desperately needed to find a way to change how I was abusing myself.
Whilst I did not love myself, I knew that I had to start somewhere, so each day, I would take one small loving action. Some of those actions were big, like saying no to going out so that I didn’t drink, or some felt smaller, like holding my tongue, which I hated, and saying kind words.
I was apprehensive and I had no idea that it would take me to where I am today, but then I guess when you believe a relationship is worth saving, you put the effort in, even when you don’t know how it’s going to work out.
Your selfationship is the most important relationship of your life, and the first step towards improving it is self-acceptance. You must try to accept who you are right now, the good and the bad. It’s not about liking yourself, it’s accepting yourself — which are different things. With acceptance, you can show up in a loving way, despite not liking yourself, just as you do with the person you love as mentioned at the beginning. You accept them just the way they are which enables you to act lovingly to them.
You will not feel more love for yourself until you act more lovingly and when you start trying to repair your selfationship, you certainly will not feel love. Like a couple who are on the brink of divorce, everything is willing you to run but you stay to figure it out. You’re worth the effort and your selfationship is always worth improving.