We often believe that our worth depends on what we achieve in life. We measure our value based on how wealthy or popular we are. Sometimes we even base our acceptability as people on how others judge us.

If we fail to achieve, we can even go so far as to think of ourselves as worthless individuals. It is not a healthy way to function. So start finding happiness though self-acceptance today!

Society influences us from an early age to base our worth on our accomplishments.

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We deal with unrealistic expectations assigned to us by the demanding society in which we live. So‐called ‘winners’ are worshipped while others are labelled as ‘losers’ and forgotten. Society so often tells us that what we do is important, but what we are is not.

By using achievements such as work advancement and how much we are liked by significant people to measure our self‐worth, we risk sliding into depression or anxiety if we fail to accomplish an objective or live up to other people’s expectation.

By making our worth as a person depend on our achievements, our feelings of self‐worth will be temporary. Measuring self‐worth in this way will frequently lead to depression and self‐loathing whenever we fail to live up to our goals.

Examples of this confusion include equating making a mistake with being a mistake; having a failure with being a failure; and doing something that is bad with being a bad person.

This denigration of the self is wrong and a prescription for further failure.

If people define themselves as a total failure then they minimise their chances of success in the future. The more people put themselves down, the less likely they are to perform well because they are quite literally prescribing failure for themselves.

There is an antidote to this dilemma which, surprisingly, is rooted in ancient history. Centuries ago, Greek and Roman philosophers developed the concept of self‐acceptance.

They saw that in order for a person to be fully self‐accepting, it was vital to never rate oneself or other people. The psychologist Dr Albert Ellis has termed this ‘unconditional self‐acceptance.’

finding happiness_2Suppose you receive the gift of a bouquet of flowers, but discover that one of the flowers is mouldy and dead. Do you recoil in horror and throw the whole bunch of flowers into the bin, or do you remove the dead flower and arrange the rest into a nice vase?

Of course, the majority of us would make the latter sensible choice and enjoy the bouquet. However, do we do the same when it comes to ourselves, or do we tend to condemn both the rotten things we do – our mistakes and failures – and our whole selves, our very essence?

To regret negative things we do can be helpful, especially if we then go on to put things right. But to condemn not only what we do, but who we are, leads to anxiety, guilt, insecurity, jealousy, depression and anger.

When you refuse to rate your whole self, you avoid these unhealthy emotions. By recognising that everyone has shortcomings and that nobody is perfect, you’re in a better position to accept your weaknesses along with your strengths.

It is healthy to rate your performance, and if you can change something or improve it, then so much the better. But if you cannot change it, then accept it and continue to do as well as you can.

Practice unconditional self‐acceptance

A. Think of situations in which you tend to judge your whole self. What could you say to yourself in these situations that would enable you to accept yourself unconditionally, regardless of any mistakes you may make or inadequacies you may possess?

B. Take 20 minutes a day separating yourself from your performances. It is vital that you do not judge yourself as either all good or all bad.

C. Apply unconditional acceptance to other people. Rate only their behaviours and traits as good or bad, but never rate them as a whole person.

(C) Michael Cohen adapted from his new book : Rethink it!-Practical ways to rid yourself of anger, depression, jealousy and other common problems.

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