Nu à la chaise jaune, 1936, by Henri Matisse, pencil on paper. Image found via Mutual Art.


Self-acceptance is crucial to a healthy progression of our lives. If we do not like ourselves, we are not only never happy, but our inner criticism also has a disruptive effect on our wellbeing.

Most of us are familiar with the fact that angry thoughts lead to more stress hormones, inflammation and toxins in the body while happy thoughts promote healing and wellbeing.

This is the last thing we want to hear when we are upset with something. (Easier said than done, thinking those happy thoughts.) But it is something to consider, when the storm has passed.

Acceptance means being okay with things as they are, without trying to get rid of them or change them. Rather than a permanent quality, it is a mindset that you practice.

There are several things we can do to become more like the person we dream of being. We can change our lifestyle, we can learn new skills, we can change the way we look.

But as long as we act from a self-despising place, no matter how great the outcome is, it will not keep us satisfied in the long run.

Trying to cover up something in ourselves without accepting that quality first is quite a betrayal to our self-esteem, and what we try to push away we haunt us until we are ready to deal with it.

The good news is: we always have the means to make our lives better because all of our problems can be traced back to us. The awkward news is: we are the ones who must change to see the outcome change for good.

Back in the eighties, Louise Hay wrote a book called You Can Heal Your Life. I think it is still one of the best books written about how we all create our own realities.

Louise claims, and it is difficult to disagree with her, that all human beings feel to some extent that they are not good enough. That at the core of all our difficulties in life is this weird, demanding and critical relationship with ourselves. And it is not until we decide that we will love and appreciate ourselves unconditionally when we can see crearly how wonderful life really is.

At the core of unconditional love is total acceptance.

It is possible to accept something and still look forward to an improvement. Demanding an improvement until we can accept something is where we stumble.

In everyday life, self-acceptance means quieting the inner critic when you stand in front of the mirror. Instead of focusing on what you do not like, learning to see a more general picture of ourselves and practice appreciation.

It means learning to separate yourself from other people’s inner fights. (Some thought patterns sit hard. I still easily think that I have done something wrong when someone else is in a bad mood!)

Self-acceptance also means that we do not dwell in the wrongdoings of our past but instead decide to do our best in the future.

And it means having faith, in life. Trusting that letting things, and people, be as they are is where all the magic begins.