A great majority of the women I see for therapy struggle with the same issue: lack of self-acceptance.
In fact, many women (myself included) find it hard to love and appreciate themselves, harping on their various flaws rather than accentuating the positives. Are you guilty of this?
More than likely, the answer is yes. We’ve been taught to play up the bad and filter out the good in everything from our relationships to our careers. Sadly, this behavior extends to unfair judgment of peers, strangers, and most destructive of all, ourselves.
In order to begin developing genuine self-esteem, you must first learn to accept your whole self. The very essence of you… the good, the bad and the ugly. Again, we were trained to believe that self-acceptance is not possible until we reach perfection. Hopefully, we’re all in agreement that a nirvana state is not readily achievable.
As humans, we are always changing, growing and learning. There will always be things you dislike about yourself; behaviors you want to change, body parts you want to enlarge or shrink, etc. But despite these flaws, you must retrain your thinking and learn to love yourself anyway.
Acceptance is often confused with understanding. I’m in no way claiming that you need to understand why you do what you do, think what you think, or want or desire the things you do. Just as there are many things about this world you don’t understand (but you nonetheless accept), there are many things about yourself you’ll never understand — you’re a complex creature! Coming to terms with this is half the battle.
So how can you go about achieving self-acceptance? One activity I often assign to clients is called the “Two-Sided Coin.” Simply draw a line down the center of a sheet of paper. In one column, list everything you love about yourself. In the other column, list the negatives. I’m willing to bet you’ll find it much easier to come up with bad characteristics, but please continue until each column is equal. If you have a difficult time coming up with positives, ask your family and friends for help.
Next, you’ll closely examine the list. You should come to notice that your negative characteristics couldn’t exist without the positives, and vice versa… just like the two sides of a coin. For example, on one hand you may list that you dislike your tendency to procrastinate. But, if you look at it from another angle, you may work better under pressure and actually produce better work. Go through your list of negatives and think up a positive for each.
In summary, please ladies, stop being so hard on yourselves! Everything you dislike about yourself has a positive counterpart. You’ll never be perfect, but that’s okay! Play up the positives and bask in the glow of your divadom.