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Tool for Happiness: Accept Yourself

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Young Girl Playing By Herself --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

Young Girl Playing By Herself --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

No matter how much advice there is on discovering happiness, you will have to define what it means to you. It is helpful, however, to learn what other happy people have found works for them. One practice common in happy people is self-acceptance.

Here are five steps to accepting yourself.

1. Face your limitations and then do something about the ones you can

We were all born with certain genetic makeup and dispositions. Keeping in mind the things over which we have control will expedite our happiness and success. This doesn’t mean you can’ t make changes and improvements in your life, but it does mean that you have to work within your capabilities.

Some of our limitations can be pushed back.

If I decided to run a marathon, I would run into my physical limitations quickly. I’m over my ideal weight, not particularly fit, and certainly don’t have the training, stamina and practice to sustain a long run. To try to run a marathon under these conditions would doom me to physical injury, pain and maybe death.

On the other hand, if I wanted to run a marathon and was willing to commit to the diet, preparation, training and practice required to safely complete the race, I have no doubt that I would be able to complete a marathon. Perhaps I would not win, but I would be able to complete it.

Take a hard look at the things you consider your limitations to see which ones have shallow roots. Then make plans to do what it takes to push past those in your pursuit of your goals.

Going beyond what you once considered limitations will give you a huge dose of confidence, inspiration and self-acceptance.

2. Do what you love

This phrase is often completed with “and the money will follow.” But I’m not talking about earning money in this instance.

You must do what you love in order to build your self-respect and self-acceptance. When you are spending a third or more of your life on a job you hate, yielding to someone’s will, helping someone build their business while neglecting your dream you erode your own feelings of worth.

If your job pays great money but it doesn’t make you feel good about yourself, you must make a plan to escape to one that does. It make take a while to make this transition, but just getting started will begin to increase your self-love right away.

3. Silence your inner critic

As soon as you begin a new venture or set out for a goal you can count on your inner critic to step up with objections, cautions and criticisms. It’s important to acknowledge your inner critic, but send her back to her corner.

Your inner critic’s job is to keep you from taking risks and hurting yourself. But to do this she reminds you of all your failures, shortcomings, and does her negative best to keep us from moving forward. Left unattended, she will have you believing that you are completely incapable and inept. As a matter of fact, she will paralyze you from taking action.

You can’t kill your inner critic, but you can disarm her whenever she appears. Her words distort the truth of who you are so you can’t left your self-worth be defined by her and your work toward your goals be dictated by her.

4. Pat yourself on the back

When I was growing up we were discouraged from talking about our own accomplishments. My parents feared that it would make us boastful, shallow and distasteful people. They were misinformed.

Congratulate yourself when you complete a goal. Celebrate when you reach a milestone, even small ones. These moments of acknowledging your achievements bolster your self-esteem.

5. Give up the quest for perfection

I recently told a client that she must resist the urge to try to edit and write at the same time if she hopes to finish her book. She was amazed that I advised her not to read the previous chapter before starting the new one.

If you reread your previous writing before continuing, it is near impossible to resist the urge to edit and rewrite.

Once the rough draft book is completed you may go back through the book to begin editing and smoothing out the rough edges. But trying to edit and write at the same time is like trying to ice and bake it at the same time.

Trying to fashion a perfect life is futile as well. You must live your life knowing that making mistakes is part of living. When you learn from the mistakes it’s very beneficial, but you will make new ones. Treat mistakes and setbacks as lessons.

As you grow and develop your skills you get better at what you do. Becoming comfortable with your own imperfection ensures your happiness.

When you accept yourself, you won’t waste time on trying to please others, looking to them for validation or swayed by the fickle judgments of others. And best of all, you will be better prepared for happiness and success on your own terms.

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