Define Self Acceptance

Ok the beginning of this post is going to seem off topic but I swear it’s about self acceptance. If you listen to the podcast you know that our latest episode is about Ben and he talks about his journey of self acceptance, not only with his Type 1 Diabetes diagnosis but also for himself. Super great, you should totally listen to it.

Now, after these interviews I do a follow-up blog post and episode about the character traits they chose. I do this because I think it’s important to be able to pinpoint what you can learn from other people’s stories, but also because I love to research.

I decided to Google self acceptance studies (which is great to do about topics you’re interested, you’ll be surprised at what has been researched!) and I could not believe the gem I found.

In a study by the University of Hertfordshire back in 2014, in partnership with Action for Happiness & Do Something Different, they did a survey with 5000 people asking them how often they practice the Happy Habits. Now if you’re like me you’re probably asking “What are happy habits?” so here you go:

  • Giving
  • Relating
  • Exercising
  • Appreciating
  • Trying out (keep learning new things)
  • Direction
  • Resilience
  • Emotion
  • Acceptance
  • Meaning

By the way these habits were tested as part of the 10 Keys to Happier Living framework that was developed by Action for Happiness.

This study also put together what traits lead to the most satisfaction out of life. Acceptance was the strongest indicator, in other words, self acceptance was the trait that was most likely to determine if the participant was satisfied with their life. And you know what trait was practiced the least? You guessed it…Self Acceptance.

Self acceptance is the ability to see and embrace all your attributes, the positive and the “negative”.


Why is Self Acceptance so Hard?

This is a great question and this answer from Barbara Markway Ph.D. in this article in Psychology Today summed it up perfectly, “Accepting ourselves unconditionally is difficult because we must give up the fantasy that if we punish ourselves enough with negative thoughts, we’ll change.”

Again, as with self awareness and self trust, compassion is a critical part of this process. Sometimes having compassion for others is hard enough but ourselves? That’s a whole other level of difficult.

Self Acceptance vs Self Esteem

Thanks for putting up with all the quotes in this post, there are just a lot of talented people who have said things way better than I could so I want to give credit where credit is due. In a quote by Leon F. Seltzer Ph.D., “Self-esteem refers specifically to how valuable, or worthwhile, we see ourselves, self-acceptance alludes to a far more global affirmation of self. When we’re self-accepting, we’re able to embrace all facets of ourselves—not just the positive, more ‘esteem-able’ parts.”

Basically self esteem is something that we can determine what traits deserve the place of raising our esteem while acceptance is about accepting all of our traits.

I’m loving how these different pieces are coming together in way that’s helping me learn how to be a happier person. Know anyone whose defining trait is compassion? Please nominate them for an interview for my podcast!

Published by Kaili Speaks

As the podcast host of Define, Kaili has the opportunity to chat with people about their defining moment and what they learned from it. In two-part episodes she dives into personal stories and then into the behavioral science and the logistics of how to use those traits and experiences to help us see each other in a different light. If you are wanting to learn more about what defines the people around you, tune in and learn more about how to apply these traits into your own life. 

One thought on “Define Self Acceptance

  1. Wonderful post, Kaili! As someone who was once a target of bullying, I couldn’t agree more! Self-acceptance is a must if you want to live a rewarding and happy life. Thank you so much for posting!


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