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Self-Acceptance does not equal complacency.

When we are going through our own journey, we are often finding our true authentic self. This journey may include identifying values, natural talents, passions and much more. Self-discovery may sound intimidating, but it is just a process of examining one’s life, figuring out what is missing and taking steps towards finding fulfillment. Self-discovery is important to not only our physical health but our mental health. When we take time to participate in self-discovery and self-acceptance, we provide ourselves permission to accept ourselves for who we truly are without the agenda to change or deny ourselves of who we are. Participating in activities that allow you to discover your true authentic self can build your confidence by putting you back in the driver seat of your own life.

When participating in a self-discovery journey, start by visualizing your ideal self. You may explore values and identify any core beliefs you may have about yourself. Once you visualize your ideal self, you may start exploring your passions. Passions help make life more colorful and provide us with a much deeper meaning than just existing. Give yourself time and grace when participating in self-discovery as there is not a one size fits all approach or timeline.

A major part of the self-discovery process is self-acceptance and self-actualization. Often, we find ourselves conforming to society to seek approval from peers, but it often does not feel authentic to our true selves. Being apart of a culture that validates strength and beauty from the outside in makes self-acceptance much more difficult. Today, we often see people through the lens of what they show us on the outside but never fully accept and embrace someone unconditionally for who they are on the inside. For some people, coming to terms with who they are and forming a positive sense of identity can be challenging. Many individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, and with other non-heterosexual orientations (LGBTQIA+) experience stigma, prejudice, and/or discrimination because of their sexuality, making self-acceptance and self-discovery that much more difficult. Lower self-acceptance could be considered a risk factor for adverse mental health concerns. A positive sense of self is strengthened by validation, education, support, and acceptance by a community of others who have shared experiences.

Foster a better you with self-acceptance!

Acceptance of things as they come, without evaluating or attempting to change them, is a skill developed through mindfulness exercises in and out of session. We do not aim to directly change or stop unwanted thoughts or feelings, but instead encourage developing a new compassionate relationship with those experiences. One way of teaching mindfulness skills that honor your unwanted thoughts and feelings is through Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).

According to Good, “ACT is based on relational frame theory (RFT), a school of research focusing on human language and cognition. RFT suggests the rational skills used by the human mind to solve problems may be ineffective in helping people overcome psychological pain. Based on this suggestion, ACT therapy was developed with the goal of teaching people that although psychological pain is normal, we can learn ways to live healthier, fuller lives by shifting the way we think about pain”. This shift can free people from difficulties attempting to control their experiences and help them become more open to actions consistent with their values, values clarification and the definition of values-based goals also being key components of ACT. Mindfulness is a key influencer to ACT and allows the individual to connect with the observing self, which is aware but separate from the thinking self.

The main goal of ACT typically comes about through several core processes.

1. Developing creative hopelessness involves exploring past attempts at solving or getting away from those difficulties bringing an individual to therapy. Through recognition of the workability or lack of workability of these attempts, ACT creates opportunity for individuals to act in a manner more consistent with what is most important to them.

2. Accepting one’s emotional experience can be described as the process of learning to experience the range of human emotions with a kind, open, and accepting perspective.

3. Choosing valued life directions is the process of defining what is most important in life and clarifying how one wishes to live life.

4. Taking action may refer to one’s commitment to make changes and engage in behaviors moving one in the direction of what is most value.

Other helpful strategies for promoting self-acceptance:

· Create a support system.

· Consider the people around you.

· Realize that acceptance is not resignation.

· Be kind to yourself. Compassion and forgiveness. Forgive yourself.

· Separate from your emotions.

· Celebrate your strengths and practice mindfulness.

· Practice relaxed awareness.

· Let go of rating yourself.

· Learn from ALL parts of yourself.

· Clarify your values.

“Lasting meaningful change has to be driven by self-acceptance.”- Brene Brown



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