A theme that’s been coming up in my client sessions these past couple of weeks is self-acceptance. It’s common that when I start working with women, their sessions are filled with “shoulds” (ex. I should work harder, be a better mother, be able to get this whole food thing right), and constantly beating themselves up for ways that they’re inadequate or unlovable.
It’s no surprise that many of these women struggle with food and self care.
When we disapprove of ourselves in so many ways, a deep level of shame arises. Shame means we believe something is “wrong with us”. That feeling is so unbearable, so we look for any way out: food, distractions, control, attacking others.
As we move along in our coaching, their binges seem to just…stop. The overeating stops. They start to feel more sure of themselves. Their lives feel easier.
They learn to accept themselves.
What does self acceptance even mean?
It means accepting all of your feelings as valid — even the ones you’re “not supposed to have”. It means accepting your personality for what it is — even the qualities you’ve learned to believe are “less desirable”. It means accepting the quirks of your body. It means accepting your strengths and your weaknesses. It means trusting your own needs and desires. It means believing that your way can be the right way, for you.
Accepting ourselves, and continuing to accept ourselves over and over and over again, is one of the most powerful things we can do.
When we do, our confidence sky rockets. We release the need to be accepted and validated by everyone around us. We become our own biggest fan. We let go of shame, and the need to distract ourselves from shame (aka with food).
I thought it would be helpful to share with you a handful of things I’ve accepted about myself over the years. I am always looking for more ways to accept myself further, too. It’s a constant process. And then in the comments, I would really love to hear how YOU are going to accept yourself further.
Here are some things I’ve learned to accept about myself:
- I can be very awkward. (<– blast from the past… wrote this 2 years ago!)
- If I’m just meeting you, it’ll take me a while to warm up and get comfortable. I can be shy in these settings. I used to beat myself up for not being all “bubbly and chatty” right off the bat, but accepted that that’s just not how I roll.
- I’m an introvert: this one has taken me a while to fully embrace. I like small group settings or one-on-one better than large groups, I need down time to re-energize, and I really don’t like small talk. Give me a deep chat and I’m all in, but small talk and I don’t mix well.
- I’m not a huge “partier”. I love having a good time and I’m extremely social, but staying out really late and getting really drunk isn’t my thing. Never has been, likely never will be. I struggled with accepting this a lot in my early twenties, and thought I wasn’t cool enough, but now it’s something I embrace.
- My body: I’ve gone through lots of self acceptance in this area. One thing is that I don’t build muscle easily. I’ll never have “abs” or super toned arms. I have to work hard at having any sort of muscle. I’ve been envious of other people for their really toned bodies, but I’ve learned to love mine as she is- curves, “soft” spots and all.
- I have a horrible memory. I forget names, I might forget big things going on in your life, but it doesn’t mean I don’t care about you… a lot. I used to beat myself up for this, but now I just own it and ask people to remind me of their names or I’ll say “I think you just went on vacation somewhere, right? Remind me of this again?”
- For the life of me, I can’t seem to keep up with the news. One of my biggest fears is sitting around an important dinner table and people starting to talk about something major going on in the world and me sitting there clueless. I’ve accepted this as part of who I am — I know a lot about the things I know about — and also thank god for theskimm for keeping me mildly updated!
Accepting yourself exactly as you are feels like taking a huge weight off your shoulders. You can finally relax into who you are in this exact moment instead of battling yourself daily (<— how exhausting!).
Now… the most important part…I want to hear two things:
1) What is one thing you HAVE accepted about yourself lately?
2) What’s a part of you that you’re tired of resisting or fighting? Can you commit to trying to accept this part of you? Let me know what it is so I can support you in doing this.
Have an awesome week!
I have some of these qualities too. 🙂 Like forgertting important things (birthdays, anything date-related etc) about people I care about. I have come to accept my indeciciveness ( really, a very very bad case of it ), the fact that I am more of “look around and adapt” type of person rather than “decide what you want and achieve it no matter what”, the fact that sometimes I share more than I think I should, the fact that I might never be as perfect at keeping the house clean as my mother…
What I struggle to accept about myself is that I can be very emotional. I know showing vulnerability is not weakness, but it feels like it.
Diana… thank you for sharing all of this and for your honesty! I laughed at the one about not keeping your house as clean as your mother. I will never be able to live up to my mom in this way either! ha. and about being emotional .. i think we are ALL very emotional people, we are just conditioned to not show it. what would it be like if you did let yourself feel and act emotional? xox.
Paige @ Healthy Hits the Spot says
Love this post! Also, love hearing from you more often — yay!
I would say that I can actually relate to most of yours. I don’t love staying out late, don’t love small talk, but LOVE deep one on one time, and am continually learning to accept my body no matter what.
What helps me with the last is learning to re-define what a normal, healthy body looks like. Rather than what I used to focus on, which was being as small as my body would allow (I got there years ago, and happiness/joy was nowhere to be found). In fact, I was only less satisfied with my body. I like to remind myself of this as I redefine where I feel good :).
Thanks again for a great post! Xo!
Love this, Paige! and yes, feeling better about our bodies is in large part in our minds and expanding the lens around what is healthy, normal, and beautiful. Thank you for sharing!! xo.
Paige @ Healthy Hits the Spot says
Love the way you put that, Jamie!
Wow, Jamie, I’m in awe. E v e r y single point you mentioned is from my life too! Unbelievable. The greatest work I’ve been doing lately (with some success) is letting myself be me, exactly as I am (so, all those above points included and more), but especially being an intuitive introvert (INFJ type) and highly sensitive (HSP). It’s quite a mix. I finally grasped that I came to this world to be me and not a copy of someone else. I wish I knew this truth at least two decades ago!
However, the hardest part that I am still fighting is acceptance of my current confusion regarding my true career path. I’m definitely leaving the meaningless earlier career behind, but now struggling (although doing lots of inner work) with choosing the new non-corporate path. It’s just tough to be in the midst of confusion for several years and still trust that the clarity will come (and even tougher to tell this to others when asked “so, what do you do?”).
But thanks for a great reminder Jamie. It’s good to know that: a/ there are other people with a similar mindset; b/ whatever minset we have, we are all enough & deserving.
Jurgita, I LOVE this part of your comment: “I finally grasped that I came to this world to be me and not a copy of someone else”. yes yes yes! And about your career confusion, I’m happy to hear you’re doing the inner work here and good for you for seeking something more meaningful. Try to have fun with finding your next thing. Sometimes when we take the “pressure” off of “figuring it all out”, we can follow our joy and inspiration from a more lighthearted place and can see more clearly where we are meant to head. xoxo.
Two of yours above – being an introvert and not being a “partier” really resonate with me. They are things I have also needed to accept about myself. I’ve found that I even need to embrace my introversion (as opposed to just accepting it) to really feel at home.
I’ve also had to accept that I can’t excel at everything. I know that sounds really pretentious, but I don’t mean it that way. When I was younger, I was put in a “gifted and talented” program at school (awful name, right?) and since then I’ve felt that I needed to live up to that label – to be at the top of my class, to excel, and I would feel desperately inadequate if I failed to do that (which was often because, hey, nobody can be awesome at everything, right? Or even more than one thing!) So I’ve really needed to step back and focus on what I’m really good at (which I still have a hard time seeing) and focus on moving forward in the avenue that’s right for me. Accepting that I am who I am, and academic/sports achievement really really doesn’t matter all that much in the long run. 🙂
Monica, thank you for sharing! I totally hear that … accepting ourselves includes accepting things we just don’t have a knack for. Sure, we can work tirelessly to try to be good at those things, but why use that time if we have other natural gifts we could be focusing on? One way to “see” your strengths is to ask other people how they see you and what they think you excel at. Sometimes an outside perspective from those who love and know us really well, can help! xo.
As always, this was so great Jamie! Thanks for sharing. I always love reading your posts.
One thing I have accepted about myself recently is that I am not on a straight and narrow path, never have been and never will be but that’s OK. I am almost 30, still have no desire to get engaged (even though I’m in a great relationship) or have babies anytime soon. I struggled for awhile because I felt like I should want these things at this point in my life, but I am on my own path and will figure those things out in time.
I’m tired of resisting/fighting my thighs (as stupid as that sounds). I know I will never have stick thin legs and although my legs are strong, I still am not comfortable in pants and in gym clothing, because I think that my thighs look so big and out of proportion to the rest of my body. I get annoyed at myself for hating this, because I have a healthy body and legs that allow me to walk and exercise and dance, and that is more than a lot of people can say. I am trying everyday to accept this part of me, and exercise has helped me with this, but I’m still not fully there yet.
Hi Kate, I LOVE your comment! I can’t tell you how many people around our age are struggling with the same thing. They know they “should” want to have kids, but they just aren’t ready yet. I think this is more “normal” than we think! About your legs … try not to judge yourself for judging your legs 🙂 What if you were to welcome in the uncomfortable feelings about your legs instead of fighting them? Maybe you can surrender to “yea, my legs aren’t my favorite. I feel like they’re out of proportion, and sometimes it bothers me but I work on loving them every day anyway.” Instead of judging yourself for not LOVING that part of your body, maybe its more about being kind toward yourself while you hold space for the mediocre feelings towards your legs? xo.
Oh my gosh Jamie, are you me??
Totally kidding, clearly we’re individuals…but I heard you yesterday on Maddy’s Podcast, and as you were telling your story I was like, “hey, she’s telling my story!”. So naturally, I’ve been cyber stalking you ever since and we really do have so much in common! Just a few difference sprinkled here and there.
This article especially speaks to me, for the longest time I’ve tried to mold into who I thought I needed to be in order to be accepted. But guess what?? I’m much more accepted as my genuine, goofy, awkward, and kind self. People can sense fake behaviors. The other day I actually went to a network meeting and the girl who invited me immediately said I looked nervous when I walked in (not very helpful), but I told her that I just need to warm up to the group. It takes me time too. And small talk…I’m terrible with that.
The biggest thing I’ve been accepting about myself lately is involving my business. I am actually starting up a health coaching practice with like the same exact principles you teach, as we speak. It’s been really helpful to see all your content and blogs, it reminds me that I’m moving in the right direction and it’s providing inspiration. It’s also validation that the techniques and ideas I’ve been teaching actually work for others, and not just myself! I have a full time job, so it’s not always easy to be creating and working on my business while trying to keep up a relationship, social life, and self-care, but I’m gentle with myself and I allow it all to run it’s course. The passion and motivation is there big time, so I know I’ll make it happen!
Thank you for putting yourself out there in such a genuine, beautiful way. I hope to keep in contact with you, and I would ideally love to become friends!
Much love <3
Thanks for your message, love all of this! And good luck with your business — so exciting! Keep in touch for sure 🙂 xoxo
1. It’s ok to nap and be lazy when the kids are asleep. I don’t always have to be accomplishing something. Rest is so needed and so important.
2. I’m a perfectionist. I just want to be “ok” going to bed with laundry that needs to be folded, dishes that need to be done, and toys that need to be picked up. It can wait right? Why can’t I let it wait and still be able to sleep well?