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Self-Acceptance - One of the most important of all attitudes underpinning our mental health!

Research shows that self-acceptance and mental health and wellbeing are very closely related. High levels of self-acceptance have a positive impact on our mental and emotional health and emotional management.


Our ability to accept who we are, our strengths, our stretches, what we look like, and so on, links very closely to what we think and believe to be true about ourselves. This influences how we feel, what we think, what we do, and how we handle things like criticism.


According to Michael E. Bernard Ph.D (15 November, 2019), “Self-acceptance means acknowledging you are a complex, imperfect human being capable of making mistakes as well as significant accomplishments. You possess a realistic awareness of your strengths and weaknesses. You accept yourself despite your imperfections and because of your uniqueness. You refrain from self-criticism, avoiding rating your self-worth based on other people thinking negatively of what you do, the way you look, or when you perceive you do not live up to your own expectations.”


Self-acceptance plays a key role in our ability to handle and deal with tricky, negative or below the line people at work. Because let’s face it, these people are out there!


Imagine being able to manage your emotions, and not take things like criticism or sarcasm personally!!! How amazing would that be? Well, developing our self-acceptance attitude is something that will have a profound impact on how we handle ourselves and other people at work and in life.


Self-acceptance helps us to not take things too personally and it gives us the resilience, confidence, and wisdom to change those things about ourselves that need changing and the calmness to accept those things that we cannot change! Strong self-acceptance makes it easier for us to realistically evaluate what we do and gives us the confidence to work on changing behaviour that may be inappropriate or self-defeating. (Michael E. Bernard)


Michael E Bernard listed some descriptors of low self-acceptance in an article, “Self-Acceptance: The Foundation of Mental Health and Wellbeing”. The descriptors are listed below. The more you agree with these statements, the more likely you are to have low self-acceptance.


Self-acceptance descriptors –

· Saying something stupid in front of others shows I am an idiot.

· I am someone who needs my friends to like me to feel important and worthwhile.

· When a colleague treats me unfairly, I think I must be useless.

· I feel I always must do well in important tasks and activities.

· When a friend asks others but not me to join him/her, I can’t help but think I’m a loser.

· When I don’t succeed at something in my work that is important to me, I am likely to think I’m a complete failure.

· When I don’t experience exciting times with others, I think I am a dull and uninteresting person.

· I am someone who needs to perform well to feel important and worthwhile.


Now, let’s be honest, who hasn’t felt some of these things from time to time? I am quite sure we all have! But, if we experience all these thoughts, all of the time, it would have a detrimental effect on our overall mental health and wellbeing.


The good news is, we can develop our self-acceptance attitude! Developing our self-acceptance muscle will not only help us at work, but it will have a positive ripple effect on all areas of our life! Personal and professional development are two ways you can work on and improve your self-acceptance level. Life Coaching, Career Coaching, EAP Counselling, attending Team Workshops and Training, reading self-help and personal development and personal growth books, and working with a mentor are all ways to develop your self-acceptance.


By Lou Lugsdin, MyY

Qualified Counsellor, Coach and Consultant


Lou is an EAP Counsellor and Leadership Coach helping businesses to create mentally healthy workplaces. Be proactive, not reactive, and participate in your workplace EAP Counselling program.


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