This is an episode of Crush It Mondays. Each week, I’ll bring to you an inspiring message, habit, or contemplation to get your week off to a powerful start. In this week’s episode, I want to talk about confidence and how it relates to self-acceptance.
Be honest, how often do you beat yourself up? Are you hard on yourself and critical? While self-criticism can be productive (similar to receiving constructive criticism from someone), most of us overdo it and it becomes detrimental. We reject ourselves. Psychology research says that one reason some individuals are more self-critical than others is due to how criticized they were by their parents. We actually have no self-regard before the age of 8, and if we were criticized a lot growing up then we tend to be more critical of ourselves as adults. While understanding your past and tendencies is important, I don’t believe in blaming the past or blaming our parents because as adults, we are able to take responsibility for ourselves and have the power to work on personal issues. The past might have created those issues, but it’s our choice whether we become a victim to them. It’s not easy, and everyone has some degree of self-judgment but learning when you’re doing it and learning to practice self-compassion is massively important. As a side note, I recorded a podcast with Dr. Kristin Neff– a pioneer and PhD in Self Compassion research if you want to listen. I’ll link it up in the show notes. Self-acceptance is about accepting who you are, not trying to fix who you are although I love personal development too!
What does this have to do with confidence? I was doing research on where confidence comes from. While I think there are a few elements contributing to someone feeling confident, self-acceptance is one that really made sense. If you accept yourself unconditionally, then you don’t rely on the opinions of others to validate you. Of course, this is not black and white and all of us look for approval and want to demonstrate our worth to others, but there are varying degrees of it. Think about it. We’ll use an easy example- racing. A lot of times, race nerves come from something potentially going wrong or not finishing high enough to meet expectations. If you worry that people will think you aren’t any good or you aren’t worthy if you don’t achieve a certain result or certain time, you are looking to them to accept you. But if you already accept yourself as a good human before the gun goes off, you’ll feel less worried about the end result and care less about what people think. This also applies to the image of how much money or success someone has by brand names, houses, cars, etc aka keeping up with the joneses. If you accept yourself, you don’t need to outwardly prove that you are successful. Lack of confidence also comes from fear of failure. Have you ever thought, “I don’t feel confident enough to try that because I don’t know how!” The best way is to just to get started and know that you’ll grow and get smarter and more experienced in that area, but the real fear in that statement is “I don’t know how and I’m afraid I’ll look stupid in front of someone.” And that includes worrying about your internal expectations or looking stupid in front of yourself. If you fail and then start beating yourself up, that is not self-acceptance. It’s the opposite- it’s your internal jerk carrying on.
Another amazing side effect of being less judgemental and more accepting of yourself is that you’ll end up being more accepting of others. Ever notice that your harshest criticisms about other people tend to be similar to your own issues and things you don’t like about yourself?
One caveat- self-esteem and self-acceptance are slightly different. Self-acceptance is unconditional where self-esteem can vary based on how successful you think you are. Self-acceptance is the foundation where self-esteem is built. Self-acceptance may not even have a positive or negative connotation to it. Self-esteem tends to hold that positive or negative self-regard, but acceptance is unconditional, whether something went well or did not go well. It’s being proud of who you are no matter what. Self-acceptance is also about separating your achievements (or your failures) from who you are as a person.
I wish I could give you an answer that would magically fix everything, but the truth is that self-acceptance is life’s work. It’s something we all have to work on forever. I can give you some tools to practice more self-acceptance…and you just might find that the more you accept yourself, the more confidence you’ll have!
- When you catch yourself with a mean internal monologue, have a plan or mantra. Saying things like, “It’s ok.” Or, “No, I am not doing this.” Or even contextual mantras like, “I am doing my best and that is enough. Even if other people don’t understand or accept it, it doesn’t mean that I am bad.” Sometimes I simply just say, “NO” when the critical voice starts up.
- If you are having a hard time coming up with something nice to counter negative thoughts, talk to yourself like you would talk to a friend. This is taken right from how to practice self-compassion. You’d never say the things to people you love that you say in your own head.
- Journal. Write down negative thoughts as they come up. Explore where they are coming from. Ask yourself if the belief about yourself is actually true or if it’s coming from an uncomfortable emotion. Keep asking why.
- Meditate or practice mindfulness. This will help you notice when the judgy, mean voice starts chirping sooner. There are even specific self-compassion meditations you can do. The category of this type of meditation is called Loving Kindness Meditation or “Metta”. Sounds hippie, but it works. Jeff Warren, a meditation instructor who has been on this podcast has a bunch of guided meditations I love in the Ten Percent Happier App. In his compassion meditation, the self-acceptance mantra is “May I be well.” That one works for me, but you can find one or make one up that works for you. An expert meditation instructor in the loving-kindness realm is Sharon Salzberg. Check her out too, and she even has an entire podcast about it.
- Try to avoid comparing yourself to others as much as possible. I know it’s realllllly hard, but looking to others to see how good or bad you are is the opposite of self-acceptance.
- Ditch perfection. No one is perfect. There will be things that don’t go according to plan. There will be rejection. There will be flaws. It is guaranteed. But that is human, that’s normal. And the things that make you imperfect are what make you uniquely you. And that’s okay because you are enough. I know I constantly feel inadequate and like I’m not enough due to the messed up vision in my head of what it’s supposed to look like or the picture that someone I’m comparing myself to is painted. None of it is real. I remind myself that accomplishing more things or being the best at something really will not make people love me more.
- Forgive yourself for mistakes. I struggle with this one too. I get hung up on my mistakes and cringe. This goes hand in hand with rejecting perfection. Making mistakes means you are trying and doing big things.
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