It’s common knowledge that it’s important to have high self-esteem to live a happier life.
And conversely, anyone who has poor self-esteem should recognize this and do their best to overcome it. And the usual method to overcoming poor self-esteem is to think more positively and create accomplishments that boost our self-worth.
However, there’s something more impactful than self-esteem: self-acceptance.
Self-acceptance is where you acknowledge and accept the flaws and strengths that make you who you are. There’s no judgment levied against you and you view your existence and the whole body of your experiences with non-judgmental acceptance.
Let’s look at why self-acceptance is better than self-esteem and also remove some misconceptions about self-acceptance.
Self-acceptance allows for emotional changes
When we think about self-esteem, we focus on how important it is to feel good about ourselves all the time.
And that’s a way of being that’s virtually impossible to maintain. As human beings, we can’t feel good all the time. We can’t predict external events that happen in life nor can we entirely control how we respond to them. Even when we do our best, outcomes in life are not always what we want. Our self-esteem inevitably takes a hit from time to time.
On the contrary, self-acceptance is a perspective that tolerates the ups and downs of life, regardless of what happens or how you feel in the moment. When you accept yourself, you realize that negative feelings and events are temporary and that you’re still worthy and worthwhile. And likewise, when you do feel good and things are working out for yourself, you enjoy these feelings without giving them too much importance.
Self-esteem depends on accomplishments
The popular notion of self-esteem also exhorts us to keep doing good things in life. We have to travel widely, make more money, be in a relationship, or do other things that signal that we have a happy life.
Like feelings, it simply isn’t possible to guarantee positive outcomes in life all the time. No matter how hard we work or do the right thing, it’s inevitable that setbacks occur from time to time.
When you have a self-acceptance mindset, you view accomplishments and positive events in the same way you do failures – with equanimity and acceptance
Every business owner experiences disappointment such as losing a client, getting negative reviews, or experiencing a poor product launch. Almost every student gets low grades in some subject or at some time. Such things happen, and it’s important not to define your self-worth on events and accomplishments that will always pass.
Self-acceptance leads to growth
One misconception about self-acceptance is that it means that you become complacent and won’t try to do anything in life.
I’d argue that placing too much importance on self-esteem is the real problem. Self-esteem is rigid and demands that we feel good and do well all the time And because we unconsciously know that this isn’t possible, we’re more likely to procrastinate so that we don’t have to deal with such high demands.
However, with self-acceptance, we can take the first step to growth – acknowledging our flaws and strengths.
And when we embrace our limitations and strengths, we can try to start a new career, grow our businesses, or look for a meaningful relationship. And we can do this with the knowledge that even if it doesn’t work out, it’s okay and that it doesn’t reflect our inherent self-worth.
Self-esteem as a concept is helpful since it helps us to recognize when we have negative thoughts about ourselves that are unhealthy. And it is critical that we don’t develop a negative self-image of ourselves.
However, the solution is not to force ourselves into feeling positive and good all the time either.
Instead, what’s important is to recognize that life and our feelings ebb and flow. We all go through periods of positive and negative experiences. And these changes do not reflect our fundamental self-worth.
Self-acceptance focuses on being okay with ourselves and the experiences we have regardless of what happens. It acknowledges what happens and even recognizes that we can improve and grow.
And because we’re comfortable with growth taking place is starts and stops, we’re far more likely to achieve our goals and feel happier.