Posted on Jan 17, 2024

“[With unconditional self-acceptance]… you always – yes, always – accept and respect yourself, your personhood, your being, whether or not you perform well and whether or not other people approve of you and your behaviors.”

~ Albert Ellis

Are self-love and self-acceptance selfish?

Let’s talk today about the difference between self-love and self-acceptance. How do those two human elements help us? How can we cultivate more of them? How does each one work in our lives? 

All these “self” phrases are so common in our current culture, you could argue we are quickly becoming a nation of narcissists. It’s self-ISH to be so me-focused, right? Surely that can’t be a good mental place to hang out for long periods.  Isn’t it more virtuous and “good” to be more concerned about everyone else, after all? In other words,  “I’m a bad person if I spend too much time thinking of myself.”

Thankfully,  self-love and self-acceptance are integral parts of our healthy human psyche. They are “good” qualities of yourself or practices for yourself to train–and keep us viewing our strengths and weaknesses realistically–and moving forward toward what we want in life. 

And far from being selfish, when you love and accept yourself you are better at loving and accepting others. Your relationships are more stable and satisfying because you have a strong connection to your esteem and worth. 

When you at least like yourself–your own company, your interests, your imperfect humanness,  you enjoy life more and feel as if you have more choices and freedom. 

We feel they are so important, we have an entire playlist of meditations around these practices.  And a mindful tip discussing self-love as well.

Be sure to check out this week's newest addition to the Self-Love Meditations.

How do we come to love and accept ourselves?

The first task is to recognize the difference between self-acceptance and self-love:

  • Self Acceptance is being able to look at who you are objectively, without judgment.  

You can see all your mistakes and triumphs, your fears, your circumstance, your body, your values—and ACCEPT them unconditionally as who you are. These are the facts about yourself–and they are a crucial part of your imperfect human existence–and you KNOW that–whether you dislike or like them.

Nothing about you has to change to deserve and receive love, care, prosperity, health, and well-being–just for being human. 

Self-Acceptance also encompasses actions–like embracing your embarrassing moments, chalking them up to humanness, and moving on.

  • Self Love, on the other hand, means enjoying, caring for, and lovingly supporting yourself. (Hopefully, that’s ALL of you–not just a few select parts, btw. But if not, we’ll get there.)

Self-Care goes under the self-love umbrella, too! After all, when we love someone, it’s more than just a feeling–it’s also a “doing.”

People who have a sense of self-love often want and actively seek better health and well-being, whatever their definition of that may be. They invest time and resources in supporting themselves with nourishing food, fulfilling relationships, and activities that they enjoy. 

People with strong self-love may feel little to no guilt when they do something nice for themselves–because they are as high on their priority list as the people they care about–they understand they are worthy of the same kind of treatment they give to others. 

There can often be a comfortable balance between resting, doing for themselves, and doing for others with a healthy sense of self-love.

Build a self-love and self-acceptance practice

Self-love and self-acceptance are continual practices, not destinations. 

If you’re new to the intentional self-acceptance and self-love realm after years (decades?) of putting yourself last or tearing yourself down–it’ll take a hot minute to learn new ways of being. And that’s okay (another thing to practice accepting, yes?)  Change takes time!

It’s always a good idea to begin learning new thoughts and behaviors slowly. Perhaps with some help.

Building self-love and self-acceptance can be supported by connecting with your inherent self-worth, and this Hypnotherapy Workshop for Building Unshakable Self-Worth is a powerful first step on this journey.

To further support your journey of love and acceptance, consider hypnotherapy or a breakthrough coaching session.

I’d love to hear your stories about how you rewired your inner “Negative Nancy or Nathan.” (And you’ll likely help my other readers in the process, so don’t be shy in the comments below!)

Take good care,

Sara and Les

The Mindful Movement