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Recovery blog

Self-acceptance

By: Elizabeth Black, MA, LCPC, Team Leader at The Renfrew Center of Chicago

Posted on August 20, 2018

Self-acceptance is to acknowledge things as they are, even if we prefer they were different. Two commonly held beliefs that interfere with self-acceptance include 1. That we cannot accept things we do not love or like and 2. that self-criticism (an adversary of self-acceptance) is what keeps us 'in line' and without it we would 'let ourselves go'.

We can (and often do) accept things we do not 'like' in our lives and can do the same with self-acceptance. We can begin practicing self-acceptance in this moment even if we do not love every part of ourselves. Self-acceptance does not mean that we feel only positive emotions. Instead, self-acceptance involves bringing awareness to emotions and responding in ways that allow us to get our needs met in an adaptive, value driven manner (instead of relying on unhealthy emotion driven behaviors).

To practice self-acceptance in recovery is to recognize who we are in this moment - flaws and all. When we practice self-acceptance, we acknowledge what is and choose to respond without judging or criticizing ourselves for it. Our practice of self-acceptance does not mean total approval but flexibility in our thinking.

Ideas to start practicing self-acceptance today:
  • Notice harsh thoughts and let them go without latching on to them
  • Practice generating objective or neutral statements when you observe yourself using subjective judgmental language
  • Consider what a compassionate (instead of critical) response would include and identify small concrete steps you can take to try something new
  • Instead of focusing on what should be, express gratitude for what is
And remember, self-acceptance is an ongoing practice in recovery.

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