Self-Acceptance: The Key to a Fulfilling Life
The relationship you have with yourself shapes your daily experiences, but the concept of “self-acceptance” can itself be elusive. Even if we’re actively engaged in personal reflection and self care, we may still unconsciously believe that we'll only be "enough" if we meet certain standards.
As coaches, it’s imperative that we dig in on this because if we don’t, we risk inadvertently bringing our own needs and internal “shoulds” into our coaching sessions!
So how do we know what kind of person we should be?
What does a worthy person look like? For many of us, the answer to this isn't always clear.
We've been exposed to countless standards growing up: from our families, communities, institutions and society. These, in turn, became an unconscious part of our frame of reference for determining our worth, financial status, appearance, intellect, and more.
Society has provided us with ample ideas of what it looks like to be "a worthy human being", but how can we objectively assess the worth of something as complex and dynamic as a human being?
In the space of coaching, Margarate Moore’s "Think, Feel, Experience” technique demonstrates how we can benefit from replacing negative thoughts with positive ones. It begins by inviting us to explore the question: What are we truly after?
Many of us yearn for inner peace, the feeling of being loved regardless of our mistakes, and the knowledge that we are worthy of affection despite our imperfections. We want to believe that we deserve to be here and loved, period.
However, our society relies on outward markers of success, which can make us reliant on approval from others. When we depend on external validation, we mistake approval or material gain for love and acceptance. In our daily attempts to meet society's standards for success, we deny ourselves what we need most: to be ourselves and feel that this is enough.
Good Enough Exercise
In the podcast episode, Noelle and John lead listeners through an exercise that helps us to explore those standards for "being good enough.” It’s a process you can do with yourself, and also with your coaching clients.
First, consider the standards you hold for “being good enough.” Think of specific things you need to be or accomplish to feel good enough. Examples include “making a lot of money,” “being a good parent,” or “looking attractive.”
List the standards, and for each standard, describe:
- How you feel when you are not living up to this standard. For example, you may experience shame, anger, or feelings of low self-worth.
- The sacrifices you make to be able to live up to this standard. For example, you may neglect your personal needs, please others, have too little sleep, etc.
- What do you need to demonstrate in order to meet this standard? Is this inside or outside of you?
Once the standards are clarified, the work to interrogate those standards begins! Ask yourself:
- Do I want to continue living under these expectations?
- What’s the alternative?
- What does freedom feel like? Have I ever tasted it?
- What makes freedom sustainable?
The relationship with the self is an essential aspect of our lives, and it's crucial to examine our internal standards and how they impact our well-being. Through self-acceptance and understanding what we truly want, we can learn to find freedom and live life on our own terms.
Episode Resource: Positivepsychology.com Toolkit: My Standards for Being Good Enough
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