One of the most important things we can do toward our own healing is to practice self-acceptance. It is a key aspect in reclaiming a sense of inner calm, as well as reducing our anxiety and lessening our suffering. We suffer when we blame ourselves for what we did or did not do or, when we judge ourselves for making a mistake by attempting to “cut off” certain feelings we find uncomfortable.

A popular misconception we make about being more accepting of ourselves is that it means liking everything about ourselves or believing we have to be perfect. Instead, self-acceptance is about recognizing, validating and accepting our actions, thoughts and emotions as our own.

We all have things about ourselves we would like to change, the difference is that, when we make mistakes or fail at something, our happiness and self-worth are not hanging in the balance. Failing at some endeavor does not equate with being a failure.

Reducing our suffering and making positive changes comes through acceptance of our human flaws and shortcomings rather than through rejection. When we deny or reject parts of ourselves, it is impossible to change anything. Why? Because we can’t change what we have not been willing to look at or explore non-judgmentally.

Self-acceptance is how we put an end to the war within ourselves. Instead, we practice non-judgmental awareness of our pain, emotional hurts and disappointments. We do this by consciously making a space for what we habitually want to avoid or deny about ourselves. We remember that all our emotions are normal, or as one client said to me, “they are part of my human hard drive.”

When we work with ourselves in this way it enables us to see more clearly the foundation of our hurt. We may find, for example, that at our core is an old belief we hold about how we “should” be, rather than accepting ourselves as we are, or an old idea that everyone should think the same way we do. So instead, we practice just noticing our thoughts and feelings. This opens the door to more self-acceptance and then we can work with ourselves in a more positive way. We may still acknowledge our shortcomings and the things we wish to improve, but it is done without attack. When we take this more positive approach, our experiences and emotions become fuel for improving our physical and emotional health.


Meditation: Close your eyes, and relax, breathing in and out for a few minutes. Imagine you are actually breathing underneath whatever difficulties or negative emotions or thoughts you may have. Think of your breath as a calm river gently flowing along. Now, imagine whatever it is that you are judging or wanting to push away about who you are. Think of these negative thoughts or emotions as if they were a leaf just floating along on the river of your breathing. You don’t grab it or start a story about it, but simply observe it as it goes by. You do this with whatever your difficulty or emotion without self-attack, criticism or judgment, making a space for it in your awareness. Continue to gently breathe as you open your eyes. With your eyes open, continue to just observe the difficult emotion, feeling it yet, maintaining a non-judgmental attitude.


1 Comment

  1. Melissa

    Hi Ray. Thank you for sharing your teaching. I have been practicing meditation since 2008 with limited success. I found you thru Brenda Mirle and left you a voicemail. I’m seeking support for meditation practice and I gather great solace and healing thru meditation. I would be grateful for the chance to interact with you. Thank you.
    Melissa Klipp

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