A key principle to building a healthy self esteem involves recognizing and appreciating our individual worth and importance. Each of us has a longing that cries out, “I want to be loved and accepted just the way I am.”  Sometimes we meet people who respond to us this way.  Ultimately, we also need to learn to accept and treasure ourselves.

Accepting ourselves begins with an honest look at who we are.  We don’t need to like everything we find.  We can just say, for example, “oh yes, I can recognize that I sometimes feel inpatient.  This is a human feeling, and I don’t need to deny it or dislike myself for feeling it.”  All of us have strengths and weaknesses.  Having good self esteem is being able to acknowledge our strengths as well as weaknesses.

The point is not to become acceptable or worthy, but to acknowledge the worthiness that already exists.  Our feelings are part of this, and accepting them builds our self esteem.  I accept my feelings and I accept myself.  In turn, this lets us accept more responsibility in our lives. “ I know I feel this way, and I can choose how to behave.  I don’t have to blame anybody else.”

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More and more over time, we can accept, appreciate and celebrate ourselves as we are.  We are each unique.  We each can celebrate our special race, ethnicity, and culture.  We can appreciate our bodies, our gender and our sexuality.  We can accept our ideas, feelings and creativity.

Accepting ourselves does not discount the need for change and growth.  Just the opposite: it is the first step we take when we want to change.  We can decide to do something differently only after we accept who we are, where we are, and that we are capable of change.  We can learn to swim only if we are willing to acknowledge that we do not already know how; we want to learn and we are capable of learning.

At The Hellenic Therapy Center in Scotch Plains,567 Park Ave., Scotch Plains, we have a team of licensed professionals working day, evening and weekend hours. We treat children, adolescents, families and couples. Visit us at www.hellenictherapy.com or on Facebook. Call 908-322-0112 for further information.