POSTED MAY 16, 2016, 9:30 AM
Srini Pillay, MD, Contributor
Many people have low self-acceptance. There can be many reasons for this, but one widely accepted theory is that because we develop our self-esteem, in part, from others appreciating us, people with low self-acceptance may have had parents who lacked empathy during their childhood. Consequently, in their adult lives, they may need much stronger affirmation from others than most people do. In other words, ordinary levels of approval do not “move the needle” on their self-esteem.
Some people with low self-acceptance try to bolster it by accomplishing great things. But this only helps your self-esteem for a while. That’s because achievement is a poor substitute for intimacy. In addition, these people are often under the impression that “taking it” when suffering is the main reflection of their value. It’s hard for them to believe in genuine caring, and when it does come their way, they are suspicious of it.
Of course, self-acceptance (or lack thereof) does not exist in a vacuum — it actually has profound effects on your physical and psychological health. For that reason, it is worth understanding what these effects are, and what you can do about it.
The emotional and physical consequences of low self-acceptance
Without self-acceptance, your psychological well-being can suffer, and often, beneficial interventions are less helpful for you than for others with higher self-acceptance.
For example, practicing mindfulness can help many people reduce the impact of stress. But when you cannot accept yourself, it becomes less effective. Also, if you have a physical illness such as rheumatoid arthritis, not accepting yourself can make you more anxious about your body. In this context, your automatic negative thoughts increase. Read More