A photo of a White woman looking through a set of tourist binoculars to represent the topic of the article - Seeking Acceptance In Yourself For Better Mental Health

Seeking Acceptance In Yourself For Better Mental Health

We all seek acceptance at some point in our lives, it’s a part of being a social creature. But if you want to be happy, and to have good mental wellbeing, then seeking acceptance within is what you need.



What Is Acceptance?


According to the Virginia Department of Health, self-acceptance is when someone accepts all their attributes and traits, both positive and negative. Simply put, we accept ourselves as a whole, “warts and all“, rather than just parts of ourselves. This makes seeking acceptance within ourselves important to our overall wellbeing and happiness.


An important part of self-acceptance is being willing and able to let others see ourselves as we truly are (Carson and Langer, 2006). After all, we all deserve to be loved for who we are, and not just for the mask we wear around others.




Why Is Seeking Acceptance Within Yourself Important?


In an article for Psychology Today, they state that acceptance is important in mental health care because denial will hinder recovery. This also includes thoughts and beliefs that might support this denial. For example, my partner has driving anxiety, it used to make them sick in fact, they’d also wake up in the night in a state of anxiety. Yet, they deny having any mental health issues. That unwillingness to accept their anxiety as being a mental health issue meant they suffered longer than they needed to.


Not that I can talk, when my psychosis started, I just tried to carry on like everything was normal. It wasn’t until I sought out therapy over a decade later that I understood and accepted what was happening to me.


This is supported by Carson and Langer (2006), who stated that self-acceptance is pivotal to mental health. They went on to say that the absence of unconditional self-acceptance can lead to a host of emotional difficulties, such as anger and depression. They further added that this can lead to someone becoming needly, as they seek validation and acceptance externally.


One of the biggest contributing factors to mental illness is the idea that we should at all costs and at all times, be well (The School of Life). This can cause us to suffer as we try to function as if we weren’t unwell or had a disability, by doing things like masking. The reason we do this is because we’re not able to fully accept ourselves.


This is linked to the work of MacInnes (2006). Their study found a significant association between self-acceptance and self-esteem. They found a relationship between having a high level of self-esteem and having strong unconditional self-acceptance, which isn’t a surprise.




During all the worst periods of my life, my self-esteem was in the toilet and I wished I wasn’t myself, such as wishing I had been born White. This also caused me to struggle with promiscuity in my desperate attempt to get validation by needing and getting people to want me.


Furthermore, according to Ford, Lam, John, and Mauss (2018), acceptance helps us stop reacting to negative things, thus making our negative experiences worse. This reminds me of what I went through when processing my childhood trauma. By accepting it, and that I couldn’t change what happened, it helped me depower the hold it had over me. I didn’t need to forgive, but I did need to accept that what happened is a part of me, and always will be. But it doesn’t have to dictate my life any more by causing me further pain.


MyMind also agrees with this, stating that when someone is struggling with difficult feelings and thoughts, it’s natural to want those unwanted thoughts and feelings to disappear. However, accepting those thoughts and feelings would be the healthier approach, then you can figure out how to manage and overcome them. After all, it’s hard to do anything about something we’re not willing to accept. This is also a factor in some people developing a dependency on drugs, alcohol, gaming, gambling, etc.


Having high self-esteem is easier when you’re able to accept yourself completely, and vice versa. Thus, increasing one’s self-esteem and acceptance of self would have positive effects on our psychological wellbeing (MacInnes, 2006).


Through my work as a therapist, I’ve noticed a pattern within some of my clients and the things they struggle with, and that’s not knowing what intrusive thoughts are. Our brains are capable of both negative and positive intrusive thoughts. The positive ones we don’t tend to acknowledge, but the negative ones can destroy a person. We’re all prone to negative, and even seriously dark, intrusive thoughts.




But if you don’t know what intrusive thoughts are, they can make you believe you are those thoughts, when you’re not. Helping my clients and others to become aware of what intrusive thoughts are, helps people accept that these thoughts don’t define them, nor should they feel guilty or shamed for simply having these intrusive thoughts. Thus, accepting your intrusive thoughts as a natural occurrence for everyone who’s ever lived and will live (Ford, Lam, John, and Mauss, 2018), brings an important sense of peace.


There’s also the issue of thought suppression that can come with painful intrusive thoughts. Often, the more you try to suppress a thought, the more power it’s given to live rent-free in your head. Although it might appear paradoxical to accept these thoughts and feelings, doing so will lead to fewer negative thoughts and feelings with the evidence supporting this outcome (Ford, Lam, John, and Mauss, 2018).


This brings us to the annoying habit of making comparisons. According to Carson and Langer (2006), comparisons to our peers and near perfect-images in the media can injure our self-esteem and self-acceptance. It’s easy to feel inadequate, leading you to hate yourself and move away from fully accepting yourself for yourself, when people like the Kardashians can spend hours trying to get one perfect photo with the team they have at their disposal, to upload one photo to platforms like Instagram.


The takeaway from all this is that without self-acceptance, your mental wellbeing will suffer, and interventions to help won’t be as effective as they would be for someone with high self-acceptance (Harvard Health, 2016).



Seeking Acceptance Within Yourself: A How-To


Listen to yourself

I know first-hand that we can be our own worst critics, my inner critic was relentlessly cruel to me. Therefore, pay attention to how your inner critic talks to you, noting the language it uses. Then ask yourself, would you talk to a loved one like that, and if you wouldn’t then how come you’re letting yourself talk to yourself like that? Learn to treat yourself as you would a loved one, someone you care about (AWARE). This is a perfect task for journaling. It also works well with thought challenges, like reframing.



One way to help you accept those thoughts, feelings, and other parts of yourself that you may be trying to pretend don’t exist, is journaling. Creating a journal prompt around acceptance and your inner critic will take you a long way regarding seeking acceptance within yourself.


Work in progress

Change is a fact of life, and that change happens to us and within us throughout our lives. Thus, thinking of yourself as a ‘‘work in progress’’ allows you to accept that you are capable of change and that you will change, as we all do. This removes issues with rigged ideas of ourselves that can lead to self-fulfilling prophesies (Carson and Langer, 2006).


So if you think you’re not a kind person, you can do things that would stop you from being an unkind person with the ‘‘work in progress’’ mentality. See yourself as being more than the sum of your actions or one bad performance (AWARE).


Can’t change the past

Before you can make peace with your reality, you’ll need to acknowledge that you can’t change what has already happened. This may be challenging and painful to accept, but by identifying what you can and can’t control, you’ll be able to allocate your energy towards actions that’ll help you, rather than be wasted (University of North Carolina and The Village Family Service Center). Much like I had to do regarding my childhood.




Develop an awareness of mental health issues

Seeking acceptance when it comes to our mental wellbeing can help manage symptoms of poor mental health that will get in the way of acceptance (Psychology Today). When you have depression, you’ll develop a more negative mindset, and that mindset will shape how you perceive everything through that negative lens. That’s because resisting the reality of the situation will become part of the problem (NAMI).


Thus, seek to accept your struggles and difficulties, so you can vid yourself of the problems that come with denial. There are also ways to help develop a more positive mindset, such as keeping a positivity journal and creating an achievements poster.



Seeking acceptance through mindfulness can be useful because this practice helps us become more aware of ourselves (AWARE). Techniques like meditation can help us identify thoughts we need to work on, and ones we need to accept, whether they’re intrusive thoughts or not.


Overcome the fear of stigma

One roadblock to accepting poor mental health issues is how society sees mental health. Although great strides have been made in this regard, some people are still living in the dark ages. Don’t let others define who you are and what matters. You can still be a great person, a parent, a friend, and a valued member of your community even though you have poor mental health (Psychology Today).


Situations you can’t change

According to the University of North Carolina and The Village Family Service Center, in life, we often end up in situations we can’t change. This is where radical acceptance comes in. Seeking acceptance regarding the reality in situations that are beyond your control, gives you a sense of control over the situation. This doesn’t mean you’re giving up or approve of the situation. Your emotions are still valid about the situation, you’re just denying it power over you by accepting it.


The picture is split in two, with the top image being of a Black woman with acne with plasters on her face with positive messages wrote on them. The bottom image being of a red headed White woman peaking out from between a bush. The two images are separated by the article title - Seeking Acceptance In Yourself For Better Mental Health


Engage in activities that support acceptance

Certain things we engage in can help us with seeking acceptance within ourselves (Psychology Today). For example, this might mean attending therapy or journaling.


Embrace your feelings

As outlined by the University of North Carolina and The Village Family Service Center, seeking acceptance of our feelings and accepting them without judgment can help you healthily work through them. It’s ok to be angry, scared, or overwhelmed, as these aren’t bad emotions, they’re telling us something is wrong.


Focus on relationships that promote acceptance

We can all benefit from having a robust social support network, and having these kinds of supportive relationships will help when seeking acceptance, especially regarding health and mental health issues. This will help overcome issues such as perceived societal stigma (Psychology Today). Therefore, create a social support network of people that’ll help you thrive, rather than hold you back.


Develop the language of acceptance

Don’t get stuck worrying about what others should or shouldn’t do or how things should be fair, “There be monsters” lying in wait if you do. Instead, adopt language that’ll help you accept the situation instead (Sharp).



Using acceptance-based comments that you can repeat to help you with seeking acceptance, can be beneficial, according to the University of North Carolina and The Village Family Service Center. Sentences like, “It is what it is” and “I can only control my own actions and reactions”, turning them into a mantra or acceptance-based affirmations.






Several factors make up our overall mental wellbeing, and one of those factors has to do with our ability to accept ourselves. Seeking acceptance within yourself allows you to work on your self-esteem and overall mental health at the same time, and who doesn’t like a three-for-one?


A significant amount of our issues come from the fact that we’re not able to accept ourselves, such as issues with our body image. By fully accepting all the good, all the bad, and everything in between about yourself, it will allow us to have a more secure sense of wellbeing, which will improve our quality of life, and increase our chances of feeling happy and content.


As always, leave your feedback in the comments section below. Also, please share your experiences with seeking acceptance within yourself in the comments section below as well. Don’t forget, if you want to stay up-to-date with my blog, you can sign up for my newsletter below. Alternatively, click the red bell icon in the bottom right corner to get push notifications for new articles.


Lastly, if you’d like to support my blog, then there are PayPal and Ko-fi donation payment options below. Until next time, Unwanted Life readers.







Carson, S. H., & Langer, E. J. (2006). Mindfulness and self-acceptance. Journal of rational-emotive and cognitive-behavior therapy24, 29-43. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Shelley-Carson/publication/226501882_Mindfulness_and_self-acceptance/links/53dd00030cf216e4210c1807/Mindfulness-and-self-acceptance.pdf.

Ford, B. Q., Lam, P., John, O. P., & Mauss, I. B. (2018). The psychological health benefits of accepting negative emotions and thoughts: Laboratory, diary, and longitudinal evidence. Journal of personality and social psychology115(6), 1075–1092. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1037/pspp0000157, https://psycnet.apa.org/manuscript/2017-30458-001.pdf, and https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5767148.

Harvard Health. (2016, May 16). Greater self-acceptance improves emotional well-being. Harvard Health Publishing. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/greater-self-acceptance-improves-emotional-well-201605169546.

MacInnes, D. L. (2006). Self‐esteem and self‐acceptance: an examination into their relationship and their effect on psychological health. Journal of psychiatric and mental health nursing13(5), 483-489. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Douglas-Macinnes/publication/6826416_Self-esteem_and_self-acceptance_An_examination_into_their_relationship_and_their_effect_on_psychological_health/links/61df1811034dda1b9ef199a1/Self-esteem-and-self-acceptance-An-examination-into-their-relationship-and-their-effect-on-psychological-health.pdf.

4 thoughts on “Seeking Acceptance In Yourself For Better Mental Health

  1. This is such a helpful post, thank you for sharing your own experiences as well as backing it up with the science and references too. I have anxiety but I often try to mask it and pretend it doesn’t exist. I think I could do with following some of your advice in this post.

  2. I agree with you, it’s important to accept ourselves and it helps a lot. I used to struggle a lot for not accepting how I look. And ti affected me a lot. Great and informative post!

Leave a Reply

Skip to content