A photo of a gay Black man, a man of Native American ethnicity, and a Black man with vitiligo to represent the topic of the article - Self-acceptance: Why It's Important To Our Wellbeing

Self-acceptance: Why It’s Important To Our Wellbeing

Recently, I started a therapy called CBT-E (enhanced cognitive behaviour therapy) which is used to help people with eating disorders like me to return to regular eating (Frostad et al., 2018). I’ve had a complicated history when it comes to eating, which you might be familiar with if you read some of my earliest articles. But that also comes packaged with my issues around body image, hair-destroying behaviours, and identity issues. Thus, starting CBT-E inspired me to want to write about self-acceptance, because a lot of my issues around this are at the forefront of my mind again.



What Is Self-acceptance?


So what do I mean when I say self-acceptance? As I’m sure you’re aware, humans are complex animals that are far from perfect. I’m only three paragraphs into this article and I’ve already made countless spelling and grammar mistakes. The life of a dyslexic. Self-acceptance is where you have a realistic representation of your strengths, weaknesses, and everything in between, and you accept all that as being uniquely you (Aware).


Before I formally got my diagnosis of being dyslexic, I struggled with the idea that I was somehow stupid. My struggles with basic English made me feel ashamed. But now I accept that I’m dyslexic and I’ll tell anyone and everyone who wants to listen that I’m dyslexic. Through trial and error, I’ve found ways to cope with my dyslexia and I’ve been able to stop it from holding me back. And I’m proud of that, given that I was like 35 by the time I was told I was dyslexic. I’d just started my postgraduate degree when I found out.


Self-acceptance isn’t just about someone accepting all their attributes, good and bad, but also accepting and being ok with past choices and who they are as a complete person (Virginia Department of Health – VDH). I’ve done things I’m not proud of, but I know I’m not that person anymore. I used and sold recreational drugs, I tried to kill myself and I’ve tried to mess up my mind so badly with drugs that I hoped to destroy my IQ.


But I’ve also helped a friend escape domestic violence and got them off heroin, helped people in need, and spent about a decade working as a substance misuse volunteer. As I said, people are complex and messy.


I have spent the majority of my life hating who I was and who I am since primary school. All starting with the racism I endured. This is why I wrote my article on helping children to recognise bullying. So I know firsthand that self-acceptance is hard, but I also know that self-acceptance can play an important role in good mental health and wellbeing (Aware).


I’m still struggling with self-acceptance, as there are still so many unanswered questions about my health issues. But I’ve come a very long way since that kid in primary school. When I was able to accept my ethnic identity, my borderline personality disorder (BPD) changed. My emotional instability and recklessness changed for the better, and I stopped self-harming and trying to end my life. That’s how powerful self-acceptance was for me. But I’ve still got a ways to go.




What Happens When We Don’t Practice Self-acceptance?


Let’s start with the obvious problem of not being able to practise self-acceptance: happiness. How can anyone be happy if they can’t practice self-acceptance? Through my own poor coping behaviours that led to me destroying my hair and developing traction alopecia, do you think I’ll ever be happy if I fixate on what I did? Or is my best chance at happiness to be able to accept what I did and try to move forward?


I was made to think that the colour of my skin was someone how a flaw, but it’s not. The colour of my skin is nothing to be ashamed of. But it took me a long time to be able to accept that, and the result of that long journey was traction alopecia, among other issues.


Struggling with your identity is never pleasant, but for minority groups, it can completely upend your whole existence. As I talked about in my account of a BPD group I was attending, there was another client there who hadn’t been able to accept their sexual identity. They were in their 50s at the time, so this had shaped a significant portion of their life. Yet, it was clear that if they could practise self-acceptance, and they could accept their sexuality, their life would be so much better.


Although things have been changing for the better regarding acceptance in society, things aren’t as good as they should be. Society is still teaching people to internalise negative beliefs about themselves. So when it comes to sexuality and self-acceptance, it often means you need to overcome these internalised beliefs (Camp, Vitoratou, and Rimes, 2020), which can be very difficult to do. But if you can overcome these internalised beliefs and accept your identity, your chances of being happier are greatly improved. You’ll also be able to grow a sense of resilience you didn’t think you were capable of having before.


Another problem with not being able to practise self-acceptance is how this can lead to perfectionism. Perfectionist thinking can become very problematic when it reaches neurotic levels. Unless you’re a NASA engineer, things likely don’t need to be perfect, or as near as possible, because no one can be perfect. However, unchecked perfectionism can lead to issues with anxiety, depression, and imposter syndrome. I know it’s a common issue people talk to me about. It’s also something I’ve gone through myself.




Tips For Self-acceptance


Like many body positivity movements have been trying to show us over the years, happiness comes when you can accept yourself for who you are. Well, there’s no guarantee that it’ll instantly give you happiness, but it certainly helps with reaching a higher state of happiness than where you were before. But self-acceptance will free us from trying to be something we’re not (Aware), and stop us from wasting our limited energy on the impossible.


So, what can you do to improve your self-acceptance?



Well, given that I’ve talked about identity a lot in this article, the first thing you could do is work on establishing and accepting your identity. People might tell you there’s something wrong with having a different skin colour, being a different gender than what you were born as, being a different weight to the accepted norm, etc., but those people are wrong. People don’t get to tell you who you are, you get to tell people who you are, so don’t forget that.



We are our own worst critics. So if you want to be able to practise self-acceptance, work on overcoming your self-criticism (Aware). As I said in my article about the spotlight effect, people don’t think about us as much as we think about ourselves, and even when they do, they rarely judge us as harshly as we judge ourselves.


Journaling can be good for this because you can write down your self-criticising thoughts and then challenge them. But a simple rule of thumb is to ask yourself, “Who’s this helping?” whenever you start to criticise yourself.



Perfectionism is an impossible goal that no one in existence has ever reached, nor is anyone ever likely to. Even the gods made it so we bite the insides of our mouths when we’re eating. Learn to accept that you and everyone else will make mistakes. “To err is human” is a famous saying for a reason. If you can accept that, then your life will get a lot easier and you can save yourself a lot of time and effort. But If you’re still not convinced, then check out my article on perfectionism, which will be dropping next week.



One of the worst things we do, and one of the easiest things we do, is make comparisons. If you want to be able to practise self-acceptance, then a good thing to work on is giving up on making comparisons. Luckily for you, I have a whole article on how to do that which you can read by clicking here.


The picture is split in two, with the top image being of a Black woman with plasters on her face with body positive messages written on them. The bottom image being of a White woman with blue hair weaering sunglassed, with the sunglasses reflecting the LGBT flag. The two images are separated by the article title - Self-acceptance: Why It's Important To Our Wellbeing


Loved ones

Another good way to be able to practise self-acceptance is to surround yourself with people who accept you for you. Someone at work came out to me as nonbinary at our work Christmas dinner, and I was the first person at work they’d told. I don’t know what it is about me, but people just seem to feel safe to open up about those kinds of things to me. Maybe it’s because I’m a metalhead goth with tattoos and piercings and literally no one else from work is remotely close to standing out as I do. Who knows.


But I’m always there for anyone who needs it. I’m also not afraid to cut people out of my life who aren’t good for me, which I’ve had to do with friends and family alike. I’m not putting up with bigotry, even from my family. You don’t owe anyone anything (family included) if you can’t be your authentic self with them.



Make sure to celebrate every little win and achievement, because it’ll help you to practice self-acceptance by being kind to yourself. Also, stop being hard on yourself as well. Kindness isn’t just something you should do for other people, it’s something you should also do for yourself.



Speaking of kindness and journaling, another thing you could do is keep a gratitude diary to complement your list of achievements. This is something recommended in positive psychology, a branch of psychology I find fascinating. Just write a daily or weekly entry in your journal to make a note of the things you’re grateful for over that time period. It’s simple but effective.



Because of my dark past, I had to learn to forgive myself. Although the part of my life that caused me the most issues might surprise you, that’s when my nana died. Because I had become suicidal at such a young age, I had a different relationship with death from everyone around me. I cried when I saw my nana suffering, but I was perfectly normal, maybe even slightly happy, when at my nana’s funeral.


I struggled with my lack of grief, but eventually, I was able to understand why I am the way I am, and that everyone grieves differently, and that’s ok. Once I was able to understand and accept that, I was able to forgive myself as well.


This forgiveness can also be applied to dreams you didn’t achieve and any and everything that has happened in your past.






Self-acceptance is an important part of avoiding poor mental health. It’s also a factor in our overall happiness level because it’s hard to be happy if you can’t accept who you are (VDH). It’s important to note that accepting our weaknesses and flaws isn’t us insulting others (Aware). Self-acceptance is about how you feel about yourself. You’re not practising self-acceptance for any other reason, and certainly not as a way to insult others.


If someone else is comfortable with not having hair on their head, and I’m not (which I’m not, and its something I’m working on), that doesn’t mean I should feel slighted if they say “bald is beautiful”, because it’s not about me. Plus, bald people are beautiful, even if I’m struggling to accept that reality for myself at the moment.


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


Lastly, if you’d like to support my blog, you can make a donation of any size below. Until next time, Unwanted Life readers.







Camp, J., Vitoratou, S., & Rimes, K. A. (2020). LGBQ+ self-acceptance and its relationship with minority stressors and mental health: A systematic literature review. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 49(7), 2353-2373. Retrieved from https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10508-020-01755-2.

Frostad, S., Danielsen, Y. S., Rekkedal, G. Å., Jevne, C., Dalle Grave, R., Rø, Ø., & Kessler, U. (2018). Implementation of enhanced cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT-E) for adults with anorexia nervosa in an outpatient eating-disorder unit at a public hospital. Journal of eating disorders6, 1-8. Retrieved from https://jeatdisord.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s40337-018-0198-y#Sec2 and https://link.springer.com/article/10.1186/s40337-018-0198-y.

22 thoughts on “Self-acceptance: Why It’s Important To Our Wellbeing

  1. Great article! I truly feel like once we start accepting who we are that everything else always falls into place. For me, learning to not be so hard on myself and accept that I am a human with trauma helped me to overcome a lot.

  2. I loved it when you said

    “Even the gods made it so that we bite the insides of our mouths when we’re eating”.

    And I can empathise on why being exposed to suicide/being suicidal at a young age gives you a different relationship to death than people who might not have had such a relationship/exposure.

    I can see why comparisons are bad because they’re easy – it takes more work and more fulfilling work to see how we have more in common and are able to connect.

    • When it comes to comparisons, the rule of thumb seems to be, if you’re looking up to someone because you’d like to be like them, then it’s fine. But if you’re making comparisons for any other reason, it’s likely to be unhealthy and detrimental to your wellbeing. Thanks for sharing your thoughts

  3. What a wonderful and honest post. It’s so important to start and continuously keep ourselves on this journey. I read a quote the other day that stuck with me: if you rely on others for your validation and acceptance, then they will be able to destroy you with their criticism. That really stuck with me because it is so hard to accept ourselves sometimes but it’s essential for our well being and mental health.

    • For the longest time I couldn’t cope without external validation, and it left my mental wellbeing weak and vulnerable. So the quote is dead on. Thanks for sharing your thoughts

  4. Such an important topic. Thanks for sharing your experience, and educating and giving tips for self-acceptance. I always like the practice of carrying around a photo of yourself as a kid. Then taking it out and looking at it when you’ve been on a trend of negative self talk. It’s been a good reminder for me to be kinder to myself and more encouraging.

  5. Self-acceptance is something I have struggled with since I was in school, but accepting your identity, not comparing yourself, and surrounding yourself with friends and loved ones are great tips.

  6. Such a powerful post! Self-acceptance is something I am working on, as I am so critical of myself it is a default. Thank you for sharing this post. I can definitely relate.

    Lauren – bournemouthgirl

  7. I enjoyed reading this article. I did CBT several years ago. It helped at the time. Something to revisit

  8. Such a fantastic article! And timely (fortuitous, perhaps). I love your definition of self-acceptance: Self-acceptance is where you have a realistic representation of your strengths, weaknesses, and everything in between, and you accept all that as being uniquely you. Thank you so much for sharing!

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