As flawed human beings, we often come face to face with our limits and imperfections.
Sadly, we tend to criticize our shortcomings whenever we deal with failure, and we stubbornly refuse to make peace with our painful past. And when problems like anxiety, stress, or depression hit us, we tend to minimize their impact and refuse to accept we are the ones having to deal with them.
In fact, there are times when we’re so stubborn and rigid that we refuse any help that might come from those who care the most about us. And that’s because accepting others’ emotional, financial, or social support means accepting our limits and shortcomings.
Instead, we choose to spend countless hours dreaming about a better version of ourselves – an idealized version, free of any imperfection, flaw, or problem. A perfect self, capable of withstanding life’s adversities without any outside help.
We dream and hope that one day, change will occur out of nowhere reshaping our entire existence and turning us into the person we always wanted to be.
But something’s missing …
What is Acceptance?
In Buddhist philosophy, acceptance is one of the key aspects of enlightenment.
Buddhists believe that most of the suffering and discomfort that we experience stems from personal desire and selfish cravings.
In other words, we make ourselves miserable by refusing to accept the less pleasant or less desirable aspects of life.
We demand to be treated in a certain way, we impose unrealistic standards upon ourselves, and we irrationally think that life should be exactly as we want it to be.
Long story short, our lack of acceptance generates frustration and emotional suffering.
To practice acceptance means to come to terms with a reality that you might or might not be able to change. It means to acknowledge the fact that life is sometimes scary, unpleasant, or unpredictable, and there’s simply nothing you can do about it.
In modern psychology, acceptance occupies an important place, being the foundation of an entire therapeutic approach.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) aims to help people overcome emotional difficulties by cultivating mindfulness: an awareness of the present moment without judgment.
Through gratitude, strong emphasis on acceptance, and constant reminders of the positive aspects of life, ACT teaches people to find the balance between enjoying the ‘positives’ and tolerating the ‘negatives.’
Although this approach is relatively new – and some experts are skeptical about its efficiency – recent studies show promising results.
For example, a 2015 meta-analysis revealed that Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, “may be as effective in treating anxiety disorders, depression, addiction, and somatic health problems as established psychological interventions.”
Acceptance means saying YES to what is, what has been, and what will be. This approach to life and relationships enables us to act wiser and more effectively, with better results in the long run.
But aside from making life easier by helping us tolerate adversities and misfortunes, acceptance is also the starting point for something much more significant; something that drives personal and professional growth.
Acceptance Inspires Change
Acceptance is the point from which you can start making changes in your life by learning to live with your shortcomings and capitalizing on your inner potential.
Any mental health professional – regardless of his/her approach – can agree that change is impossible in the absence of acceptance.
How can you change negative behaviors, toxic attitudes, rigid mindsets, or painful emotions if you keep refusing to accept yourself for who you are – an imperfect human being, just like everybody else.
Regardless of its roots, non-acceptance of one’s own personal limits and flaws is a roadblock – an obstacle to personal and professional growth.
To accept yourself for who you are and to see yourself as a whole – with strengths and weaknesses – is a proof of emotional maturity and an attitude that allows you to walk the path of personal development with serenity and openness.
Once you embrace your imperfections and acknowledge your limits, change is not only possible but also achievable.
Own your shortcomings, and you will regain control of your life!Own your shortcomings, and you will regain control of your life! Click To Tweet
Here’re a Few Reasons Why You Should Embrace Your Shortcomings and Accept Yourself
#1 You learn to handle criticism better
Criticism is among our biggest fears. No one likes to sit and listen while others criticize our ideas, beliefs, attitudes, or results.
It is because of this fear that we avoid doing a public presentation, giving voice to our ideas, or going to a job interview.
The reason why criticism seems so hard to tolerate is that most of us tend to identify with what we think, feel, or do. In other words, we irrationally believe that our actions, emotions, and behaviors reflect our value as human beings.
But as Albert Ellis once said:
“Acceptance is not love. You love a person because he or she has lovable traits, but you accept everybody just because they’re alive and human.”
Once you accept our shortcomings and learn to live with your imperfections, other people’s negative evaluations will cease to affect you.
A recent study comparing the effects of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) with Acceptance-Based Treatments (ABT) concluded that ABT could improve the way we rate our performance and help us handle criticism better.
#2 You enjoy a happier life
While doing my research for this blog post, I stumbled upon an article published in Science Daily which, in my opinion, gave the best definition of happiness.
In the word of the author:
“Happiness is more than just a feeling; it is something we can all practice on a daily basis.”
According to this article, it seems that one of the habits that leads to a happier life is self-acceptance.
Here’s what you need to do to cultivate self-acceptance:
- Treat yourself as kindly as you would treat others and see your mistakes as valuable learning opportunities.
- Ask a friend or family member to list your strengths and tell you what they value about you the most.
- Be mindful of your inner Take the time to contemplate your strengths and weaknesses.
The mere act of accepting yourself for who you are can significantly improve the quality of your life.
#3 You experience less negative emotions
People who practice self-acceptance experience less negative feelings and thoughts.
When you stop criticizing yourself for the mistakes you’ve made and start embracing your shortcomings, your attitude will shift from negative to positive.
And there’s even scientific evidence for that!
A 2017 study concluded that “individuals who accept rather than judge their mental experiences may attain better psychological health, in part because acceptance helps them experience less negative emotion in response to stressors.”
It doesn’t take much to cultivate psychological health and well-being – a pinch self-acceptance is enough to change your attitude towards yourself, others, and the world.
Acceptance (and self-acceptance) is the driving force behind change.
Once we embrace our shortcomings, accept our imperfections, and learn to tolerate a world that isn’t always in tune with our expectations:
- We can handle criticism better.
- Experience less negative thoughts and emotions.
- And enjoy the beauty of a happy and satisfying life.
So, what do you think about our article on acceptance? Have you ever tried to set criticism aside and embrace your shortcomings Are there any strategies that have helped you cultivate self-acceptance and come to terms with your flaws?
Share your story by leaving a comment below!
Clinical Psychologist, Licensed CBT Therapist.
I’m a Clinical Psychologist and a licensed Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy practitioner. My work focuses mainly on strategies designed to manage and prevent the most common mental issues – anxiety, depression, and stress.
When I’m not busy with my therapeutic practice or other work-related activities, I enjoy going out for a jog or hit the nearby gym.
You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or via LinkedIn (link below), or through the Contact Us page.