Skip to main content

What is Self-Acceptance?

Jonathan Riley

“One of the most significant factors to being happy and satisfied with your life, is self-acceptance” – Jonathan Riley

“[Self-acceptance is] an individual’s acceptance of all of his/her attributes, positive or negative.” – Morgado Campana. Self-acceptance is exactly what its name suggests: the state of complete acceptance of oneself. True self-acceptance is embracing who you are without any qualifications, conditions, or exceptions. This definition emphasises the importance of accepting all facets of the self. It is not enough to embrace what is good, valuable, or positive about yourself; in order to embody true self-acceptance, you must also embrace what is less desirable about yourself. If you’re thinking that accepting all the negative aspects of yourself sounds difficult—you’re not wrong! It’s not easy to accept the things that we desperately want to change about ourselves; however, it is only by truly accepting ourselves that we can begin the process of meaningful self-improvement.

Often, our inner critic makes a judgement that we are not good enough, and we don’t accept ourselves as we are in the moment. That can be a problem because self-acceptance is one of the most significant factors to being happy and satisfied with life. In 1959, psychologist Carl Rogers wrote about unconditional positive regard and how important it is in personal development. The way we view ourselves has a direct impact on our mental health and our ability to achieve our long-term goals. In his research, Rogers posits that a person with high self-worth faces adversity and thrives anyway, while a person with low self-esteem cannot truly function in the world (Caiola, 2017).

A successful person is someone who experiences challenges and accepts failure and unhappiness as a part of life. They are open with others and generally have positive feelings about themselves. Rogers believes that this is what it takes to be a functioning person in this world. This kind of person can more readily get over negative thoughts without feeling demoralised by them. On the other hand, an unsuccessful person avoids challenges and refuses to accept the pain and unhappiness life produces. They are frequently defensive as a result of negative feelings about themselves, and they are unable to escape these negative thoughts. Negativity rules their world in a destructive way. This means that you need to accept who you are, not who you think you’re supposed to be. This also means that you need to accept your good and negative qualities.

When you practice self-acceptance, you can begin to love yourself, embrace your authentic self, and work on improving your less than- desirable traits and qualities. When we move from a place of acceptance, we free up all the negative energy that consumes our thoughts and behaviours, and we have greater access to our own internal resources, which can be used to pursue what truly matters in life.

Finally, the aim of self-acceptance is not to encourage self-blame and guilt; instead, the aim is to move from the perspective that says “I don’t like who I am” to “I’m going to be on my own side while I create change”. When you accept yourself for who you are and decide to help yourself rather than burying yourself under doubt, criticism, and blame, you can allow yourself to change for the better. Accepting yourself unconditionally is not something that happens all at once. It’s a process that takes a lifetime, so be patient and remember that good things take time.


Ackerman, C. (2020). What is Self-Acceptance? 25 Exercises + Definition and Quotes. Retrieved from

Baldwin, M. (1987). Interview with Carl Rogers On the Use of the Self in Therapy. Journal of Psychotherapy & The Family, 3(1), 45–52. doi: 10.1300/j287v03n01_06

Caiola, R. (2017). 8 Ways To Practice Self-Acceptance. Retrieved from

Rosenthal, D. A. (1997). Archives of Sexual Behavior, 26(5), 481–493. doi: 10.1023/a:1024503821562

Seltzer, L. F. (2008). The Path to Unconditional Self-Acceptance. Retrieved from