Definitions of Self-Forgiveness, Self-Acceptance & Self-Love
Updated: Jan 28
All in the name of break-ups, moving boxes, & bottles of wine…
Last week I caught you all up to speed with my beautiful September nightmare, and how self-care got me through it all. From a hard break-up & moving home solo, to girl time & sipping wine in Portugal. I have these 3 powerful acts of self-care to thank for my strength & positivity through it all. In this post, I cover the basics of Self-Forgiveness, Self-Acceptance and Self-Love, so that when you find your life flipped upsidedown, you can trust it’s to let everything good fall into place, and everything bad to fall out of the picture. Art featured by the empowering Sabrina Brügmann.
Read my story here:
forgiving oneself from regrets of one’s past.
We hear a lot about the importance of forgiving others, but what about forgiving ourselves?
When we harm someone, it is normal and healthy to feel bad about it, to experience regret and wish we could take it back or make it all better. What isn’t healthy, is to continually beat ourselves up about it, or determine that we are a bad person because of it. These feelings are shame and guilt, and in both experiences, we feel bad about ourselves.
While these feelings are not sought for, each and everyone one will inevitably feel them at points in life. The good news is, they open doors **or blogs** leading to positive behavior change. Forgiveness is not just ignoring a problem. Forgiving yourself is about more than just putting the past behind you and moving on. It is about accepting what has happened and showing compassion to yourself.
Being able to forgive yourself is not a sign of weakness
The ability to extend empathy and understanding when you are hurting is never easy. In many cases, granting self-forgiveness is much harder than allowing yourself to wallow in anger or regret.
Self-forgiveness is not about letting yourself off the hook. The act of forgiveness, whether you are forgiving yourself or someone who has wronged you, does not suggest that you are condoning the behavior. It means that you accept the behavior, you accept what has happened, and you are willing to move past it and move on with your life without ruminating over past events that cannot be changed.
Allow yourself to feel remorse
Guilt is not always a bad thing. It allows you to think about consequences, feel empathy for others, and to look for ways to improve yourself. The key is to allow yourself to experience remorse without dwelling on unhealthy guilt.
the awareness of one's subjective strengths and weaknesses; feelings of worthiness, value and acceptance regardless of past behaviors and choices.
You don’t have to love everything about yourself to feel a sense of self-acceptance.
If you don’t like something about yourself, you have the potential to change it, or change your relationship with it, all while accepting who you are in the here and now, without criticism.
When we're self-accepting, we're able to embrace all facets of ourselves, not just our favourable traits.
Just like self-love, self-acceptance is unconditional. We can recognise our weaknesses or limitations, but this awareness in no way interferes with our ability to fully accept who we are. To improve a sense of self-acceptance, we need to explore what parts of ourselves we may find difficult to accept.
Once we learn to stop judging ourselves, we can secure a more positive sense of who we are. Through this, our self-esteem will naturally rise as a result of not being so hard on ourselves. Better self-acceptance increases our self-esteem, and evolves our ability to self-love.
Becoming more self-accepting means becoming more compassionate
We become more self-accepting by cultivating compassion for ourselves, releasing feelings of guilt, and learning self-forgiveness. Cultivating more compassion for ourselves will enable us to better understand and pardon ourselves for things we criticise so much.
So, drop the things you beat yourself up about on the daily and show yourself some loving compassion.
To adopt a more loving stance toward ourselves, we must come to realise that until now we've pretty much felt obliged to demonstrate our worth to others. From our parents and caretakers, to teachers and employers, our approval-seeking behaviours have crossed wires with how we value ourselves.
It's through compassion for ourselves that we can learn to like ourselves more, and remember we are deserving of love and respect.
Not only that, but our willingness to confront what we previously found so difficult to accept about ourselves will help inspire our kindness and goodwill toward others. We will organically become more accepting, caring and loving in totality.
To become more self-accepting, we must start by telling ourselves that given all of our negatively biased self-referencing beliefs, we've done the best we possibly could. It’s true, for given all the circumstances, situational, physical & mental, you did the best you could, whether you realise it or not.
In this light, we need to re-examine residual feelings of guilt, as well as our many self-criticisms and put-downs. We must ask ourselves specifically what it is we don't accept about ourselves and, as agents of our own healing, bring compassion and understanding to each aspect of self-rejection or denial. By doing so, we can begin to dissolve exaggerated feelings of guilt and shame, based on standards that simply didn't mirror what could realistically be expected of us at the time.
Becoming more self-accepting necessitates that we begin to appreciate that, ultimately, we're not really to blame for anything.
Whether it's our looks, intelligence, or any of our more questionable behaviors. Our actions have all been compelled by some combination of background and biology. Going forward, we certainly can take responsibility for ways we've hurt or mistreated others. But if we're to productively work on becoming more self-accepting, we must do so with compassion and forgiveness in our hearts. We need to realise that, given our internal programming up to that point, we could hardly have behaved differently.
the ability to love oneself unconditionally
Self-love is important to living well, happy & healthy.
It influences who you choose to spend time with, who you pick for a partner, the image you project at work, and how you cope with challenges in life.
Self-love isn't conditional
It’s easy to mistake self-love for self-like. When you lose a few pounds or get your hair done, achieve something great, you like how you look, or what you’ve accomplished. But what if the opposite happens?
If you put on a few pounds or fail an exam. Do you still feel the ‘like’ for yourself? You see where this is going… What we often mistake for self-love is a conditional liking of the person we are.
Unlike this ‘conditional-liking’ self-love is free of judgement. It is free of punishment and reward. It is free of conditions. In essence, self-love is self-acceptance.
Self-love reflects the same type of unconditional love you might feel for partner, your family, your best friend, cat or dog: a true unconditional feeling of love, appreciation and acceptance for yourself.
Unconditional love is without any limitations or conditions. You might not like your bad habits, but you still love yourself - and that’s the key. You are not your habits, you are not a body part, you are you.
Self-Love is a Feeling
Okay, so we can’t buy self-love, and we can’t just 'do' self-love either. Practicing self-care is absolutely important for feeling a sense of self-love, but self-love isn’t just a simple pour of a bath. When you feel a sense of self-love, you find yourself in a state of self-appreciation. This grows from acts of self-care, from actions that support our physical, psychological, and spiritual growth.
When we practice self-care, we expand our self-love potential and begin to accept our weaknesses and strengths with greater ease. We recognise that just like everyone else, we are human too. We feel compassion for ourselves; we have less need to explain ourselves.
You see, self-love, self-acceptance & self-forgiveness are all threads of the same rope. And together, this rope will bind your very own self-care book, where the story is all yours.
I hope you enjoyed this post on those three very powerful acts of self-care. Relate? Let me know! Here's to Autumn, the season of letting go & watching how beautiful change can be.
Love & Moonlight for the Month ahead, and remember to always, always