Accepting yourself is the key to finding peace, serenity, and joy. These tips on how to accept yourself are inspired by The Parable of the Poor Maiden.
In The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are, Brene Brown offers 10 steps that will take you from ‘What will people think?’ to ‘I am enough.’ You’ll learn how to stop performing, pleasing, and trying to be perfect. This book is the foundation of how to accept yourself (unless you have a relationship with God. If you do, then the foundation of self-acceptance is accepting His love, grace, compassion, and forgiveness).
Sometimes the root of self-acceptance is self-forgiveness. If you obsess about the mistakes you’ve made in the past, read How to Forgive Yourself.
I love The Parable of the Poor Maiden – originally called The Parable of the Poor Farmer – because it’s about acceptance. Look how she accepts everything in her life with an open mind and heart. The maiden doesn’t judge or compare, rail against reality or fight what is. She simply takes one step at a time. That’s how to accept yourself: stop judging, comparing, railing, and wrestling. Just allow yourself to be.
The Parable of the Poor Maiden
Once upon a time, there once was a poor maiden who owned a beautiful white horse. Whenever noblemen passed through the village, they always noticed her horse and offered handsome sums of money for the stallion. The maiden always declined their offers, saying, “This horse is my friend. How can I sell my friend?”
One morning she awoke to find the horse was gone. The village people gathered and said, “Maiden, you were a fool not to sell the horse – you could have been rich! Now it has been stolen, and you have nothing. What a great misfortune!”
“I wouldn’t say that,” replied the maiden. “Whether the horse was stolen or not, or whether it is a misfortune or a blessing, is unknown. All we know is that the horse is not in the stable.”
Some days later the stallion came home, bringing several beautiful wild mares. The village people said, “You were right, fair young maiden! The horse was not stolen, and it was not a misfortune. It was a blessing, and now you have many fine horses!”
“I wouldn’t say that,” said the maiden. “We don’t know if it’s a good thing or a bad thing that my horse is back. Whether it is a blessing or a misfortune remains to be seen.”
Some days later the maiden’s fiancé began to train the wild mares, but he was thrown and trampled. One of his legs was badly broken. The village people were saddened. “Oh poor young maiden, you were right! It was not a blessing but a great misfortune, and now your fiancé is lame!”
“My dear friends, all we know right now is that my fiancé has a broken,” said the maiden. “Whether it is a blessing or a misfortune is unknown.”
A few weeks later the country went to war, and all the able bodied young men were conscripted to serve in the military. Only the maiden’s fiancé was passed over, because his leg was broken. The whole village was crying and weeping, for they believed their sons would be killed. “You were right o fair maiden, your fiancé’s is a blessing. He may have a broken leg but he is with you. Our sons are gone forever!”
The maiden shook her head. “We don’t know if it’s good or bad that my fiancé is here, and your sons have been forced into the military. We have to wait and see.”
The moral of this parable? Accepting – not judging – the reality of your life is the root of peace.
How to Accept Yourself
If you want to learn how to accept your life, you have to stop judging everything that happens. If you want to learn how to accept yourself, you have to stop judging yourself.
Deal with your shame and guilt
I know you feel ashamed and guilty about the things you’ve done. How do I know this? Because we’ve all done things we’re not proud of. We screw up all the time. We have secrets, things we’d never admit to anyone. We have regrets. We made mistakes. That’s why Brene Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection is such a popular and powerful book on how to accept ourselves – because she shines light on the dark places of shame and guilt. This has the power to lead to self-acceptance, if we let it.
If your secrets are pushing you into a pit of despair, beyond just a struggle with self-acceptance, read How to Stop Hating Yourself.
Don’t try to decide whether you’re good or bad
You’re both good and bad, my friend. In The Parable of the Poor Maiden, the young maiden refused to judge the circumstances of her life as good or bad. She was secure in who she was, and had confidence that her life would unfold the way it was supposed to. Here’s a spiritual tip on how to accept yourself: make peace with God. Accept His love and forgiveness, and you’ll accept yourself. If the God who created you – who knows everything you’ve ever done – loves you and accepts you, how can you not accept yourself?
Stop comparing yourself to others
The maiden in the parable never compared the events of her life to other people’s. The villagers did – they said how lucky she was that her fiancé was crippled, and how unlucky they were that their sons were drafted. We tend to compare ourselves to everyone: our coworkers, neighbors, family members, even our partners. Who do you most often compare yourself to? Think about how you feel after engaging in a marathon of comparisons and judgments. This is one of the first tips on how to accept yourself: stop judging how you stack up against other people.
Forge a new identity
The peace and joy that comes from a stable, loving, compassionate self-identity is priceless! If you stand firm on your identity – which isn’t affected by your income, relationships, possessions, appearance, achievements, failures, losses, gains – then you won’t have a problem accepting yourself. The key is to have a clear, firm understanding of who you are. You don’t need to constantly judge and compare yourself if you have a strong identity. Where do you get this identity? From the one who created you.
Do you tend to ruminated about things that happened long ago? Read When You Can’t Let Go of the Past.
If you have any thoughts on how to accept yourself, please share below! I can’t offer advice or counseling, but I’m a good listener. If you have questions on creating a new identity, feel free to ask me how I did it