Young woman looks at the mirror and sees her happy reflection

Building Self-Acceptance

By Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD, author of The Insecure in Love Workbook

The proper foundation of a house insulates against problems even through natural disasters. Similarly, the proper foundation of a self remains intact even through personal emergencies. By contrast, when these foundations are weak or fragile, your home and self are at risk for coming apart from everyday “use” or being damaged by particularly stressful situations.

When it comes to your inner home, self-acceptance offers a strong foundation for a secure self. To be truly self-accepting, it is essential that you accept the following:

You are human. (Hopefully, this is not a stretch for you!)

Humans are flawed. (Said another way, no one is perfect.)

Once you accept these two statements, then the following is also true (for logic or math geeks, this follows the modus ponens rule and the transitive property, respectively): You are flawed.

I can almost feel you nodding with a silent I knew it! But this last statement must be understood within the context of the first two. In other words, weaknesses, making mistakes, and other difficult or painful experiences are part of being human. So, given that you are human, all of these experiences reveal your humanity—not that you are essentially flawed, deficient, unlovable, or don’t belong to the human race. Even if that last statement doesn’t feel right, you can hopefully acknowledge its fundamental truth.

This concept has been described by self-compassion researcher Kristin Neff as our common humanity. […] Common humanity is the basis of self-acceptance and self-compassion.

The Truth Is You Are Lovable

All humans are fundamentally the same in more ways than we are different. One of those ways is that all of us are precious and lovable just for being born. This is true whether or not the adults around us can fully appreciate or honor that immutable fact. And it’s true for you, too, whether or not you believe it. But do you believe it?

If not, consider this. Think about what defines human babies. They are pint-sized creatures who can’t do a thing to care for themselves. They need to be fed. They pee. They poop. They need their diapers changed. They cry. (Some more than others, but they all do it.) And not a single one of them does anything to earn their keep. Other than the pleasure adults might get by caring for them, they are no help at all. Yet the vast majority of adults respond with a primal recognition that babies are inherently precious. It’s unimaginable to judge any baby as unlovable, agreed?

As infants mature, become more mobile, and ultimately grow into big people, they continue to carry that spark of something special just for existing. There is no reason to think it would suddenly disappear at any particular point. But as they lose their baby cuteness—technically called kindchenschema—we can lose the awareness that they are precious. Loss of this awareness does not mean that it disappears, but we might find it harder to see. We continue to recognize it in those who are close to us, which is why you can have unconditional love for family or friends.

Now I’d like you to apply this unconditional love to yourself… Have I lost you? If so, you are in good company. Like so many other people, somewhere deep inside yourself, you might feel absolutely sure that you are inferior and are not lovable. However, rather than just accept this rejecting self-perception, ask yourself, What makes me so different from everyone else? When I think about this, do I objectively believe I am all that different? Or is it just that my feelings of being unworthy and unlovable are so strong? Remember that something can feel true without actually being true.

This blog post is an excerpt from The Insecure in Love Workbook (2024).

Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD, is an internationally published author, speaker, and psychologist. She is a trusted expert on relationship issues that people have with themselves, as well as with others. She is author of Insecure in Love and Bouncing Back from Rejection. She writes the Making Change blog for In addition, she has created a library of short videos on her YouTube channel to offer people the opportunity to learn how to feel better about themselves and their lives.

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