Shifting from Self-Criticism to Self-Acceptance


My mountain biking story

My husband and I decided to take up mountain biking before the holidays last year.  While we live in the Florida flatlands, the bike is called a mountain bike.  However, when my fellow Floridians laugh at the term I rephrase it to “off road biking.” Nonetheless, we have hills. In fact, it’s not a long gradual rising grade but often a quick straight up. While they may be fewer than regular mountain terrain, they can be one to two times taller than I am (which is 5’8″). My daughter (who rides with us sometimes) and I even have a running joke as we get off our bikes and walk up. We laugh and say “Oh hill no.”

My husband is continually encouraging me (I call it nagging) to do this or that to make it up the hills.  If I would down shift, stand up or some other maneuvers, he swears I would make it. Of course, I gladly receive his instruction. <<–that was sarcasm. Despite his nagging, after a few weeks, I did begin to make it up, over and on down the trail on some of the smaller hills.  Several times I would yell out “I made it!” but my faithful encourager was too far ahead to hear.  I found myself getting grumpy that he somehow was conveniently there for instruction when I didn’t make it but was long gone when it came to cheering my success.  After a few of these, I decided I needed a shift in my perspective. I could be proud of my accomplishments. Appreciate my progress.

Shifting from self-criticism to self-acceptance

After all, it is not others acceptance of me that matters.  There will be times when others never accept who I am. To be ok with that, I must accept myself.  Frequently, we are more unaccepting of ourselves than others will ever be. Generally speaking, we criticize ourselves for every little thing. We criticize our appearance, how we age, the mistakes we make, and normal emotions like fear or loneliness. This constant rejection of who we are depletes our self-worth and significantly impacts our happiness. Shifting to self-acceptance frees us from the need to have others accept us.

Self-acceptance frees us from the need to have others accept us. tweet

Beneath this shift is practicing gratitude and appreciation for who we are. Gratitude gives us permission to be ourselves, to be human. It allows for our mistakes and imperfections and even views them with appreciation. Understanding they are part of who we are. When we direct gratitude towards ourselves, our perception shifts from dissatisfaction to self-acceptance. Rather than focusing on the physical traits, we dislike about ourselves we find appreciation for their function. Instead of criticizing our mistakes we congratulate our efforts.  Finding gratitude in the lesson within emotions instead of feeling shame for being lonely or fearful. The more we appreciate the complexities and unique facets of who we are the higher our self-acceptance soars.

Nurturing self-acceptance is a matter of practicing gratitude towards the self. Focus on what you appreciate about who you are. Some examples could include noting things like:

  • acts of kindness you’ve offered others
  • people you have loved and supported
  • the ways you’ve been of service to others
  • risks you’ve taken
  • any gifts or talents
  • efforts you’ve made
  • anything you’ve done that you’re proud of
  • qualities you possess.
  • times you’ve shown patience, compassion or generosity.
  • Resilience. Times you found strength when you thought you couldn’t go on

Grab your journal; it’s your turn to grow

Take a few moments and reflect on an area you tend to be self-critical.

  1. Note the area of self-criticism where you tend to get stuck. Make a gratitude list of 3-5 things that you appreciate about who you are in those areas.
  2. Similar to my conquering the hills, what accomplishment have you made recently that you need to be proud your efforts?
  3. Who do you know that struggles with self-criticism? How can you encourage them in gratitude and self-acceptance.




One thought

  1. Karen Zeigler, Again You Peel Off All The External & Get Right To The HEART Of It! I Continue To Pray For You, As GOD Pours Into You & You Share His Love With Us!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *