To accept oneself is to answer to no man (or woman) but ourselves. When we do things for the praise or esteem they will earn us, or because we think we should for the benefit of others, we are not living for ourselves. Instead, we are letting others’ perceptions dictate the course of our lives. Acceptance of self means that we act out of necessity because it is what we must do, it is who we are at our core.
On the topic of self-acceptance, Anne Wilson Schaef writes:
“We are so accustomed to doing what others want us to do, or doing what is right, or doing that which earns us praise, that LeGuin’s words urging us to do only that which we must do and cannot do in any other way seem unrealistic. We think: That’s fine for her to say, she’s a writer—she schedules her own time.
Yet, what truth is there for us in her words? We certainly can admit that we have done many things for the wrong reasons, and the pain of our righteousness, nobility, or praise-seeking is often bitter in our hearts. Often when we do something because it seems good to do so, we waste everyone’s time, including our own.
What a relief to believe that we are enough just as we are and that our unique way of accomplishing a task is just what is needed.”
When we do things out of obligation, or because we want the rewards it will earn us, we are not acting in accordance to our values. We deny ourselves, and we end up resentful because of it. No one likes to do something against their will, and when it is us who wills it, we end up resenting ourselves along with the person for whom we’re doing something. To accept oneself is to believe that we are enough. Our reasons alone are sufficient for our action or inaction. Self-acceptance is doing what must be done for ourselves, acting in accordance to our will and that of no other. Self-acceptance is a choice to turn away from exterior motives and instead turn inward. Acceptance of self is relief. It is letting go of the fear and doubt that we are not enough to instead embrace who we are and our own motivations. d