I started this month by sharing “ Self-acceptance is defined as having self-awareness, a realistic, yet subjective view of one’s talents, skills and worth plus a sense of satisfaction in oneself despite past failures, bad behaviours and choices. It allows us to recognise our uniqueness and brilliance, whilst allowing us to change and grow as individuals.” 

However, when we feel at odds with the situation we find ourselves in or the people we’re surrounded with, our self-acceptance and self-esteem can be impacted.

Self-esteem is different.

Self-esteem is an external measure – a comparator with others. It is how we perceive ourselves and our life and career choices relative to others. 

Black woman with arms outstretched, smiling as she stand with confetti blowing across her

The external markers against which we are measured – performance goals and targets, competitions and awards, expectations and norms – form our self-esteem. Achieving a sporting PB or getting a bonus at work adds to our self-esteem, by building our sense of value and positive self-image.

The opposite is also true. A failed business or an indiscrete question by an elderly relative on your marital or parenting status can erode it. We feel worthless and useless; the disempowering Victim archetype comes to the front. We feel like we’re unable to fit in.

Equally, an overinflated view of our worth compared to others isn’t helpful either. Rather healthy self-esteem lies somewhere between.

When we recognise for ourselves, without external comparison, our brilliance, we build our self-acceptance. It means we can recognise the good and the bad within us. Self-acceptance is unconditional, deeper within us and allows us to show compassion and love towards ourselves in difficult times. 

And with a stronger sense of self-acceptance, it is easier to build our self-esteem and not succumb to self-doubt or the voice of our inner critic.

So how do we recognise our brilliance from an inner realistic perspective, rather than through external comparison?

Curly haired lady with a huge smile celebrating herself with shiny confetti falling

I use several tools with clients, such as the VIA Character Survey and the Gallup Strengthsfinder tool – these are great for career exploration and are self-reported outcomes, rather than comparative tools. 

For today, let’s start simple: grab a piece of paper and brainstorm or mindmap out the characteristics, talents and strengths you have. If you get stuck, pause, breathe and ask yourself “what else?” Try to push through two stops.

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s model of flow balances capability with challenge. High levels of both result in those moments where it’s like everything just aligns perfectly. That moment where time seems to fade away as you are absorbed into a satisfyingly challenging task that plays to your sweet spot. The Flow State Scale is a research tool; you answer the statements with 1 being strongly disagree, through to 5 being strongly agreed for a particular experience. The statements are:

1.) I was challenged, but I believed my skills would allow me to meet the challenge.

2.) My attention was focused entirely on what I was doing.

3.) I really enjoyed the experience.

4.) It was no effort to keep my mind on what was happening.

5.) I felt I was competent enough to meet the high demands of the situation.

6.) I was not concerned with how I was presenting myself.

7.) The challenge and my skills were at an equally high level.

8.) I did things spontaneously and automatically without having to think.

9.) At times, it almost seemed like things were happening in slow motion.

Using the different areas of your life, pick a couple of activities and complete your own Flow State scores.

For high scoring ones, dig deeper into what is that you do, think and feel in those activities. Add them to your brainstorm/mindmap.

Across your page, now look for commonalities. What occurs in a couple of places? Create a new list from these.

Looking at each one, ask yourself:

  • – do you recognise and feel satisfaction in this element of you?
  • – where else does this positively support and influence your life? 
  • – how you can use, do or be more of this?
  • – how can you practice daily gratitude to recognise and be thankful for them?
Oriental lady with arms lifted up, catching bright colour confetti strips

Last exercise for today: looking at your list, can you pick your top or favourite three and find a way to share them with someone else? Sort of mini brag. Not a horrid show-offy arrogant moment. Rather a “did you know I have this nack in ……..” or “I love that today, I got to do/use/be ……”. Start somewhere safe – go into the Haven and share a mini brag

Go on, own a piece of your brilliance. Articulating it helps you internalise your acceptance and joy in it.