As its name suggests, the definition of self-acceptance is the complete acceptance of oneself, of both your positive and negative traits.
It is much easier to appreciate our positive traits, but for true self-acceptance, you must also be able to embrace the negative, less-desirable parts of yourself.
A popular misconception of self-acceptance is that it means giving up on yourself. That you simply give yourself a pass for your faults and weaknesses and stop trying to change them.
Of course, this is simply untrue.
Instead, true self-acceptance means being aware of both your positive and negative traits without attaching negative emotions or judgment on who you are.
It means being able to be objective about your strengths and weaknesses and not compromise on your self-worth.
To put it simply, the self-acceptance definition is understanding that your value is separate from your actions and qualities. Despite having made mistakes and flaws, these things do not define you.
Understandably, this can be difficult; but acknowledging your failures and weaknesses is the only way you can begin to work on them and create real progress.
Self-acceptance vs self-esteem
You might be wondering, what is the difference between self-acceptance and self-esteem?
It is easy to confuse self-acceptance and self-esteem since these two concepts are related. However, while they are both critical to your psychological well-being, they are not the same thing.
Self-esteem is how valuable you perceive yourself relative to other people. These are the strengths you offer to the world, and how favorably you think you compare to others.
Self-esteem generally relies on external ‘markers’ like your accolades or accomplishments. Being promoted at work can be a massive boost to your self-esteem, while being placed under a performance review can erode it.
When clinical psychologists talk about healthy self-esteem, they mean that you have a reasonable, positive self-image. You are aware of your strengths relative to other people and believe in your value.
Unhealthy self-esteem is when the needle falls on either end of the spectrum—in other words, if you think too much of yourself or believe that you are worthless and have nothing to offer, you have unhealthy self-esteem.
In contrast, self-acceptance is much deeper than self-esteem. Unconditional acceptance does not depend on your external circumstances, nor your success and achievements. It is being able to accept both the good and bad about yourself.
Unlike self-esteem, self-acceptance is not conditional. Even if you lost your job, had just broken up with your spouse, or lost all your money, you would still be able to love and show compassion to yourself.
Naturally, it would be much easier for a person with healthy self-acceptance to develop healthy self-esteem. Since you rely less on external validation, you can appreciate your value regardless of what goes on in your life.
What is the Importance of Self-Acceptance? How Does it Affect Your Life?