How Can You Nurture Self-Acceptance?
Self-Acceptance is one of the key features of happy, fulfilled people. 
Self-acceptance is defined as “an individual’s acceptance of all of their attributes, positive or negative.”  When we’re self-accepting, we embrace every part of ourselves, not just the “positive” things! Self-acceptance is unconditional—you can recognize weaknesses, but still fully accept yourself. To be self-accepting is to feel satisfied with who you are, despite flaws and regardless of past choices.
Self-acceptance is related to happiness; the more accepting you are of yourself, the more happiness you accept and enjoy. Other benefits include a decrease in depressive symptoms, the desire to be approved by others, fear of failure, and self-critique, as well as an increase in positive emotions, sense of freedom, self-worth, autonomy, and self-esteem. 
Without self-acceptance, your mental well-being is likely to suffer. For example, you are less able to control stress and anxiety. The way we feel about ourselves impacts both psychological health and future goal achievement. Self-acceptance will help you achieve self-improvement! Research shows that high levels of self-acceptance can also lead to less focus on negative aspects of oneself and a higher likelihood of engaging in acts of self-love. 
You can nurture your self-acceptance by engaging in the following tasks:
- Celebrate your strengths
- Understand that you (and everyone else) will make mistakes
- Recognize the silver lining in negative situations
- Develop self-compassion, particularly in difficult times
- Stay positive through writing notes of affirmation or downloading an app that will share inspirational quotes each day (try Mantra: Daily Affirmations or Subliminal apps)
- Don’t compare yourself to others
- Set an intention—According to psychotherapist Jeffrey Sumber, MA, “It is vital that we set an intention for ourselves that we are willing to shift paradigms from a world of blame, doubt and shame to a world of allowance, tolerance, acceptance and trust.” 
- Surround yourself with people who accept you and believe in you
- Help others—performing charitable acts allows you to see that you can positively influence others’ lives
- Write about what you are grateful for
- Talk to others about how you are feeling
- Quiet your inner critic by adopting a mantra (“I am doing the best I can right now”)
- Make a list of goals accomplished and hurdles overcome—read this list when feeling down
- Consider the people around you— try practicing your sense of shared humanity through loving-kindness meditation (this type of mediation strengthens feelings of kindness and connection; learn more about it at https://ggia.berkeley.edu/practice/loving_kindness_meditation)
- Forgive yourself—take ownership of and acknowledge mistakes made, reflect on lessons learned, and let go of everything else
- Learn how to stop ruminating over things you cannot change
- Allow yourself to grieve unrealized dreams
- Use PERT—Positive Emotion Refocusing Technique when things get tough
- Take 3 long, slow breaths while focusing your attention on your belly.
- Bring your attention to the area around your heart as you think of something truly wonderful in your life (someone you love, a pet, a beautiful piece of music, some kindness given or received, a place in nature that inspires you, or some gift in your life). Hold the feeling of this in and around your heart as you continue to breathe into your belly. Do this for several breaths or until you feel calmed.
- Ask the calm part of yourself: “How could I better handle this difficult situation?” You’ll get a response that’s more helpful to you than you’d be able to access from the upset place, or one that reminds you that you don’t have to get upset in this moment just because you were hurt in the past.
-  Ryff, C. D. (1989). Happiness is everything, or is it? Explorations on the meaning of psychological well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 57, 1069–1081.
-  https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/greater-self-acceptance-improves-emotional-well-201605169546
-  https://www.happiness.com/en/magazine/personal-growth/self-acceptance/
-  https://self-compassion.org/wp-content/uploads/publications/JRP.pdf
-  https://psychcentral.com/lib/therapists-spill-12-ways-to-accept-yourself/
Originally published by the Virginia Department of Health.