Self-belief is about what you believe you’re capable of achieving but underlying it is self-acceptance. Without it you’re clinging to a raft on a tossing sea, prone to the tides of other people’s turbulence from their own lack of self-acceptance. Humans are social and we take cues from each other. Whether the cues are negative or positive they spread to others, so self-acceptance is important globally as well as personally. If you accept yourself as you are, with honesty, compassion and balance you send out the message to others that it’s safe to do the same thing.
Some people are terribly judgemental of other people as they are terribly judgemental of themselves, so it spreads. If you want to help people to accept themselves you have to start by working on lovingly accepting yourself. You have the power to be the loving energy you want to see in the world.
When we don’t accept ourselves as we are we try to win approval from other people. Seeking approval – even if you’re not fully aware that you’re doing it – puts you into people pleasing mode with poor boundaries, where you’re relying on other people to make you feel better about yourself.
Self-acceptance is about approving of yourself as imperfect, not needing to qualify it or validate it. If you find yourself thinking “I’ll feel happy with myself when I lose weight/get a promotion/become an expert in this subject” you’re setting qualifiers for yourself, deciding that you must achieve these things to make you a valuable person. But whatever you achieve you won’t reach that point of feeling happy with who you are because you’re hanging on to needing proof that you’re worthwhile rather than valuing yourself as you are.
You are no more or less valuable than the next person. All people have intrinsic worth and are worthy of respect. You are worthy of your own respect; you deserve to be accepted by yourself and it doesn’t need to hang on anything.
Where do you start though?
Over a lifetime we’ve picked up beliefs about how things are or should be, including how we should be. These come from other people’s expectations and we add to them ourselves. We are so used to the beliefs we carry that they are usually invisible to us. I think of them as contracts we’ve signed and forgotten about, that govern our behaviour. For most of us one of those contracts is about seeking approval from others – for many reasons, as we’re all different. For a long time I expected and sought approval from other people and because of that I stood still on my dreams because they were different from those of people I knew. A discouraging word could lead to me giving up on something important to me, because at the time I chose to keep on living a small life rather than risk other people not giving me their approval.
To break the contract holding you back you must start by giving yourself permission to stop waiting for approval. This is where it is powerful to bring in your personal spiritual work, development tools or other supportive practices. From magic to CBT, astrology to coaching; bring in whatever healing approaches feels powerful for you, because that is where you will be best able to nurture your self-acceptance.
Who are you? What do you want? Who is the real you? Get to know yourself deeply, the good and the bad. You are imperfect and resilient, you have had weak moments and been strong too. You have striven through challenges and have come so very far. Your faults, gifts, oddities, talents, values, lessons, failures – they are part of you, the whole tangle, and those things will be with you whether you love and accept yourself or not.
You are a humble human doing your best and from a place of seeing yourself clearly and with kindness and tolerance self-acceptance can grow and flourish.