Acceptance is a big part of moving past addiction or any personal challenge. Acceptance means accepting reality as it is, including accepting yourself as you are. If you don’t start with acceptance, everything else is harder because you see the world as you would like it to be instead of how it is. Self-acceptance is not easy, especially if you’ve done things you’re ashamed of, but it’s the starting point of healing. Too often, people continue to struggle with addiction because they don’t want to accept the world as it is, or themselves as they are. Self-acceptance takes time and practice. Here are some ways to make it a little easier.
Remember that self-acceptance is not the same as complacency.
Many people believe that self-acceptance means everything is fine and nothing needs to change. They fear that by accepting themselves, they will become complacent and remain stuck. That’s absolutely not true. Self-Acceptance means that you believe your worth as a person is not dependent on your good or bad behaviour. If you give up that need to rate yourself, you can better understand your own behaviour, which is the starting point for behaving more skillfully.
Try switching roles.
To switch out of the critical mode, try imagining how you would treat someone you care deeply about if she were in your position. We are often far more accepting of our friends’ flaws than our own. We understand intuitively that people are inherently flawed but still deserve our love and acceptance, but few people apply that understanding to themselves.
Focus on the positive.
It’s easy to berate yourself for your mistakes and shortcomings. Sometimes we believe we’re just being honest and the truth hurts. We believe that brutal honesty can help us improve. More often, the opposite is true. People improve much faster with encouragement instead of criticism. Keep a list of things you’re good at and things you did well. Don’t worry about the things you’re bad at; you won’t forget them. Especially notice when you over generalise. Watch out for thoughts like, “I’m such an idiot.” Refer to your list and come up with some occasions when you were actually pretty clever.
Realise your flaws are not fatal.
Many people fixate on one particular quality or skill and feel like it would be awful if they were inadequate in that particular area. This not only creates anxiety and leads to self-criticism, but it makes you ignore parts of yourself you might not like. It’s better to take a rational view of our weaknesses. No one is good at everything. It might be advantageous at times to be a little more outgoing or a little more organised, but it’s not a catastrophe if you are weak in those areas. It doesn’t make you worthless. And if it’s really important to you, you can improve in those areas. Even if you will never be the best, you can be a little better.
Castle Craig Hospital is a landmark of addiction and mental health treatment in Scotland, serving the UK, the EU, and patients from all over the world. Our commitment to long term abstinence has created a successful programme of clinical and complementary therapies for mind, body, and spirit. Serving over 10,000 patients for more than 25 years, the Castle Craig model is proven in changing lives. Call our 24 hour free confidential phone-line for information: 0808 231 7723. From outside the UK please call: +44 1721 788 006
Page last reviewed and medically fact-checked | January 29, 2020