Do you often have feelings of just not being good enough when you’re with other people? Do other people’s accomplishments make you feel “less than”?
Are you at peace with yourself, with who you are – your talents, abilities, and limitations?
Have you accepted yourself?
What is self-acceptance?
Self-acceptance does not equal arrogance or conceit. It means being comfortable with who you are, knowing what your strengths and weaknesses are and being Okay with them.
Accepting yourself doesn’t mean you don’t have room to grow and change in some areas. It means liking the good things about yourself, accepting the things you can’t change, and being honest about the things you can and should change.
True self-acceptance sees your weaknesses and sets you free to work on them instead of defending or excusing them.
Accepting yourself is the beginning point for growth.
Why is it important to accept yourself?
- Accepting yourself allows you to be comfortable with your place in the world and to be honest with yourself. Acknowledging limitations does not diminish your value. It actually becomes a strength.
- If you don’t accept yourself you will live a lie because you’ll constantly be trying to live up to the expectations of others. A friend of mine struggles with low energy and is just not able to do as much as others. She’s burning herself out trying to meet the expectations of others. Another single friend has many talents and she wonders whether she should hide who she is because men might be intimidated by her. Absolutely no! Be yourself (in Christ) and stop carrying the weight of other people’s expectations.
- If you accept yourself you will value yourself. As a result, you will expect others to respect who you are instead of becoming a victim. You will accept others for who they are without placing unreasonable demands on them and you will be able to express your needs in relationships because you value yourself.
- If you don’t accept yourself you will struggle to accept others for who they are because we treat others the way we treat ourselves.
Why is self-acceptance so hard?
- We spend too much time comparing ourselves (See 2 Corinthians 10:12). The more we understand that our acceptance with Christ is always secure and that nothing can ever change that, the more we will be able to accept ourselves and be free of comparison. The truth is we are already accepted (See Ephesians 1:6) and God delights in us (Zephaniah 3:17, NIV).
- The devil has made sure that we receive a message from young, through people and circumstances, that we are not enough. That we must change ourselves to be accepted. Because we receive these messages so often, and usually from the people closest to us, we don’t stop to question whether they’re true.
- We don’t accept God’s acceptance of us. Instead we determine our value based on other things beside the value Christ has placed on us. In essence, we reject God’s opinion of us and believe our own – which is based on how other people have treated us and the lies the devil has implanted in our minds. We are everything to God, and nothing without Him. When we know Whose we are we can accept ourselves.
- We seek to please men instead of seeking to please God (Galatians 1:10). We can’t do both. When we seek to please God only, the opinions and judgments of others will lose their power over us.
How to cultivate self-acceptance:
- Thank God daily for His acceptance of you as you are, and that He will transform you as He sees fit. I’ve started praying this daily: “Jesus, I accept your acceptance of me”. Try it. It’s actually quite hard!
- Stop expressing negative thoughts about yourself and start expressing positive things about yourself. I’m not advocating the “look in the mirror and tell yourself you are beautiful” kind of talk. Begin to express positive things that God says about you (see Colossians 2:10, 1 Corinthians 6:19, Ephesians 1:6, Ephesians 2:10). Don’t say anything to yourself that you wouldn’t say to someone else. How does God want you to speak to you?
- Meditate on Christ’s sacrifice for you, the value He placed on you. This is the true source of healthy self-worth. John 13:3,4 tells how Jesus got down and washed His disciples’ feet – while they had been arguing among themselves as to who was the greatest. Why could He do this? Because He was secure in whose He was (His Father’s). He didn’t need to fight for His self-worth like the disciples were. When we doubt our identity and acceptance, we make choices with “me” in mind (as the disciples were). Most of what we do then becomes an effort to rescue our self-worth.
- Learn to surrender yourself to God daily to be changed by Him. The more you surrender yourself to God the more you become the person He intended you to be. He brings out the real “you” that is often hidden by external behaviours and habits you have developed to rescue your self-worth.
- Work on your own personal growth and development. Developing yourself under God’s direction will improve your sense of value and make it easier to accept yourself. (More on this next time.)
When King Saul gave David his armour so that he could go and face Goliath, it wasn’t long before David came back and took the armour off. It just wasn’t him. He wasn’t Saul, He was David. He couldn’t be himself dressed up in Saul’s armour. God used him as David – with his slingshot, a few stones, and no armour.
Saul’s armour is a symbol of the behaviours and habits we adopt to be accepted by those around us. In God’s eyes we don’t need those things. David chose to be himself, without any armour (making him vulnerable), and trusted that God would be with him. It was a risky move in the eyes of everyone around him, but God came through for him.
You are a unique creation and God wants to use you and your talents, as you are developed in Him.
It’s safe to trust God’s estimation and acceptance of you. If you accept it you will never need to feel “less than”.
Are you at peace with yourself? Have you accepted Christ’s acceptance of you?