Self acceptance and the impact on self awareness

I subscribe to a few blogs and journals, and I’ve been noticing a common message within a few of them lately. Messages I agree with. So I thought I’d share the love, and share some of them with you.

Plus – they’ve raised a question for me, which I’d love your thoughts on, once you’ve had a chance to read these.

Self acceptance

Body acceptance

Bron from Maxabella Loves kicked it off recently with a reflection about whether or not we need to ‘love’ our bodies – is it enough (or in fact, better) to ‘accept and be grateful for them’. As she says here:

‘So, I don’t love my body but I don’t hate it either. And what’s more I don’t need to love it. I just want to let it be. I want to be body neutral so that fat, thin, wrinkly, smooth, tanned, white, sore, happy, whatever, my body is just my body doing what bodies do. Nothing more and nothing less.

I just need to be able to look at myself in the mirror and feel good about myself for all the things that make me me. I’m not a body, I have a body‘. (my underlining).

Comparisons and self acceptance

Deb Dane of Inner Compass Designs posed the question in her latest weekly newsletter (worth signing up for): ‘Can you can accept yourself fully?’

She notes Bron’s comments – and the discussions as a result, but expands it from a body acceptance issue to a self acceptance, of all aspects:

‘We are now living in an age of eternal comparisons online, hyper awareness, super fast technology (that did not buy us more time, but instead filled every second of our day with more work, connections, expectations and possibility) …. The result seems to be this expectation that it is possible to be amazing in every area of our lives, every minute of the day, if we just try hard enough.

Perfection is not the reality of life and yet we push and push. 

How can you give up the push and instead settle into a place of self compassion?”

Which are good questions – particularly if it is not only your body that you are critical at times, but also your mind (unlike Bron, I don’t have a ‘beautiful perfect brain’ – I wish!).

My mind can work well at times, and become quite muddled at times. And I can be quite critical of myself as a result. And there are emotional responses as well to throw into the mix – for we critics, our self can be a minefield.

Perfectionist tendencies

Kelly Exeter of A Life Less Frantic recently wrote about her ongoing efforts as a recovering perfectionist, quoting Elizabeth Gilbert (yes, of Eat Love Pray fame – but also much better books, in my opinion, and great writing on her own blog), who notes:

“… failure (is) so hard for me … it’s because I’m a ceaseless striver … It’s because I think life is some kind of code that we should be able to crack — and I mistakenly believe that if I do crack the code of life, then there will be no more suffering or confusion or strife.”

Unfortunately no. No magic key or code exists. And, maybe, accepting that we will fail from time to time is actually beneficial for us.

Not just to learn – but to accept ourselves, warts and all.

Perfectly imperfect

Karen Andrews, who blogs under her own name recently wrote this post ‘In praise of imperfection‘ and this paragraph stood out in the light of the questions above:

‘Here’s the thing. I’ve arrived at being okay with what I do, at the pace I do it. I’m a much happier, saner person. I do less, but what I do, I do in the quest for excellence – not perfection. 


Doing the best we can, without being hung up about whether it is perfect. I’d extend that to being the best we can be, without being hung up on perfection. That’s a pretty nice place to be.

There’s only one me

I agree with all of these statements. I’ve been writing about it too, including the need to accept that I will not do things perfectly, present things always the way I would like, and always be the way I might like.

But I am the only me there is. 

I am worthy despite – or maybe, even, because of – my imperfections. Dr Seuss, as is often the case, said it the best:

Dr-Seuss-Youer-Quote

My question – how to balance self acceptance with self awareness?

One of the aspects of being me is accepting some of my traits, and one of those is a tendency to self examination. Can you be happy with who you are, and still continue to evaluate, and assess, and seek to improve?

Well, I think you can – with some parameters. But I’m not jumping straight into what these are because

a) I haven’t properly thought through what these parameters might be (I just know they must exist!)

b) More importantly – I’d love to know what you think!

Can you be self accepting, and still continue to grow in your understanding of yourself?

How do you do this without getting trapped into self criticism, or too much introspection or self-centredness?

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14 thoughts on “Self acceptance and the impact on self awareness

  1. This is funny because my post tonight is about self-awareness and self-examination and how too much of it triggers my perfectionist tendencies. What I’ve settled on is that self-examination is done from a place of compassion then it’s most likely to lead to good outcomes

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    1. I think you and I might be coming from the same place, Kelly! At the same time, exploration is also part of my personality, so I need to do it, but within reason, and not within a context of self critique. Look forward to reading your post – after coming back from an industry dinner (my introvert tendencies are coming out and I am resisting hunkering down here for the night instead, but hopefully I’ll enjoy it once I get there!)

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  2. Of course you can, you can! Matter of fact, accepting myself has meant that I accept that I am a person who continually questions herself and wants to better herself. It’s all part of it. I don’t accept a static me, I accept a growing, curious me. For me, striving to be better in future doesn’t mean you need to feel bad about the now. I accept that I am where I am and that I have a long way to go and that I will be kind to myself along the way. It’s a self hand-holding kind of thing. x

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  3. Interesting post. I am not that great with my appearance – it gets me down a bit (because in my head I look different to how I look, I think). However, with my fiction, I have it down pat. I know it will never be of Overland style, and I know I’ll never write an excellent book HOWEVER I know it is good enough to get published (even before it was). So I know my limits, as it were, and am happy with that. So why can’t I apply it to my appearance?

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    1. How great you have been published! Interesting about the appearance, isn’t it? I often think I will look different too (but I am happy the way I sound too, when I hear my voice, say in a video of a family event or a work speech, even though it sounds different to what I imagine). I guess there are some things we are more comfortable about ourselves than others, but I agree that it would be nice to be comfortable with the way we look, enough not to worry about it anyway!

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    1. Yes, I like it (although I haven’t worked out how to populate the menu yet, and would like to find something with a calendar of posts). More blog instructions and format options to keep exploring!

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  4. Great discussion helen! I definitely believe in an examined life. I think it is key to living with intention as we need to figure out what works for us, how we want to live and be in the world.

    I think the key is the intntion behind the examination. Instead of critical examination of finding faults or taking myself apart, i choose examination focused on my own growth/evolution, coming from a place of “how can i be more me, more mentally healthy, get where i want to be, and have the life i envision”. The self examination is great when it leads to even greater love, kindness and acceptance rather than feelings of lacking, loathing or self punishment.

    Thanks for continuing the discussion here lovely xx

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    1. Thanks Deb – really good points! (and it’s a discussion worth happening, isn’t it?) Off now to the Kidspot breakfast here in Melbourne – looking forward to more learning and growing today xx

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  5. Such a deep thinking post. Lots of people talk the talk.. But when the doors are closed they can no longer walk the walk… I think since I had kids I had to accept me for all my faults so my children could love themselves as they too will never be perfect and that’s ok

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    1. I find self acceptance an ongoing process (I do lapse into self doubt) but I think the blogs I linked to made really solid points – and you are right about the importance of this when we have kids (and it provides us with a great model, doesn’t it? We accept and love them fully – therefore we know we’re capable of this, and can extend this to ourselves too)

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  6. I go hot and cold on self acceptance.. sometimes I feel good about myself and other times.. not so much. But I think that is OK as it keeps me grounded and inspires me to constantly work on myself and give myself some nurturing attention every now and then and thats not such a bad thing is it? xx

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    1. I agree (as I said above, I think it’s an ongoing process for me) – but one thing I am appreciating about this is it also helps me relate with my kids, who similarly have ups and downs (as does my partner – and probably everyone, really). So I think I am a better parent and partner as a result, too – not to mention your points about being grounded and a bit more nurturing to ourselves. I think it’s all good, really xx

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