Self Acceptance is a major part of self-esteem and is a great place to start to improve self-esteem. Self acceptance is made of two parts. The first part is the acceptance of our thoughts, feelings, and actions. Sometimes we can become very embarrassed about how we have acted or felt in the past. To stop that embarrassment we deny or disown those moments. Every time we deny or disown ourselves we are saying there is a part of ourselves that is just not right. What is important to remember is that people make mistakes and act in certain ways under certain circumstances. Humans can learn, change, and improve. Mistakes are an important way that we learn. (1)

Self acceptance involves owning up to those moments in the past when we did something we are ashamed of. It's trying to understand why under the circumstances we behaved in the way we did. Everyone has made mistakes in their past but we must own up to them and understanding why we made those mistakes. Then we can commit ourselves to a change. It is not the mistakes we make in life that damages our self esteem but how we decide to view those mistakes. If our setbacks in life are viewed as learning experiences and as part of being human then we can move forward while improving ourselves. This is the healthy way to deal with those mistakes. (1)

The second part of self acceptance is the acceptance of our self as being "enough" or as "acceptable". Just as some people deny their actions, thoughts, or feelings, some people determine their value based on the achievement of a goal. Examples of these beliefs are: "When I get the next promotion then I'll finally be a successful person". "When I lose 15 more pounds then I'll finally be worthy". "If I can keep get straight A's then I'll finally be smart". These are some of the beliefs people have when they base their self-esteem on external accomplishments. The problem with this mindset is when a person reaches their goal they never seem to be satisfied. Also when a person suffers a loss to one the external factors of their life they suffer an incredible blow to their self-esteem. Developing a strong and stable self-esteem requires accepting yourself the way you are and understanding that you are "enough" right now! You can keep the goals you have for improvement but understand that those goals won't improve your self-esteem. A strong self-esteem comes from within and is not easily shaken when we experience setbacks in life. A strong self-esteem is not a guarantee that life will always be great but it does help to protect us from setbacks. A strong self esteem helps us to persevere longer in the midst of challenges and helps us to get started quicker when we have faced defeat. (1)

Sources:

Branden, Nathaniel (1994). The Six Pillars of Self Esteem. Bantam Books. ISBN 0-553-37439-7.

Author's Bio: 

John Forrest is a motivational speaker and self esteem coach.