How Self-Acceptance & Self-Esteem Differ: A Guide to a Happier Life

As a transformational coach, I understand that self acceptance and self esteem are two vital components in our journey of personal growth. While they often get confused for each other, their differences can have an enormous impact on how we live our lives.

In this blog post, I’ll explain how self acceptance and self esteem differ, as well as why it’s important to understand the distinction between them and how to approach them correctly. We’ll explore the subject of self acceptance vs self esteem and ultimately show you how being conscious of this difference can help lead to a happier life.

Self-Esteem refers to an individual’s overall opinion and evaluation of him/herself. It is the subjective judgment of one’s own worth, taking into account both positive and negative attributes. Self-Acceptance, on the other hand, is a more holistic process where individuals learn to accept themselves as they are without judgment or comparison. Self-acceptance involves accepting both your strengths and weaknesses and learning to be comfortable in your own skin, no matter what flaws you may have.

Defining Self-Esteem and Self-Acceptance

Self-esteem is the subjective evaluation of one’s self-worth. It involves making judgements about your capabilities, attributes and behaviours, resulting in an overall impression of yourself. This opinion can be positive or negative.

On the other hand, self-acceptance is a process that involves understanding yourself fully and learning to accept who you are without judgement or comparison. When practising self-acceptance, you acknowledge both your strengths and weaknesses and make peace with them. By embracing all aspects of yourself, including those which may be deemed “flawed”, you create an unwavering sense of inner peace.

Examining the Differences Between Self-Esteem and Self-Acceptance

Self-esteem is heavily reliant on external factors – it can be influenced by success, acceptance from others, material objects or status. As such, it is often fragile as it easily fluctuates based on changes in these environmental factors.

Self-acceptance requires no external validation as it revolves around one’s inner thoughts and beliefs about themselves. An individual who practices self-acceptance does not rely on the judgments of others for their sense of personal worth; instead they seek this within themselves.

Strategies to Increase Self-Esteem

  • Bring awareness to your own thoughts: Recognise when a negative thought arises and try to challenge it with a more positive perspective
  • Practice gratitude to appreciate what you have: Acknowledge how far you’ve come and identify things that bring joy into your life
  • Focus on your strengths: List out your unique qualities that make you special and identify areas where you excel
  • Set realistic expectations for yourself: Aim to set goals that are attainable so that achieving them boosts your sense of self worth

Benefits of Practicing Self-Acceptance

Having More Positive Emotions

By shifting our focus towards accepting ourselves as we are instead of changing to fit social norms, we can experience many positive benefits. Studies have shown that high levels of self-acceptance lead to higher levels of psychological wellbeing and more positive emotions.

Furthermore, research has also found that higher levels of self-compassion are protective against stress and depression.

Dealing With Stressors Effectively

By allowing ourselves to recognize our mistakes without judging too harshly, we can become more resilient. Rather than trying to avoid issues or worrying about them endlessly, accepting our own imperfections can help us manage life’s challenges better. When times get tough, we can reach out for support and use healthier coping strategies instead of running away from our problems.

Improving Mental Health

The greatest benefit from practicing self-acceptance is improved mental health. Accepting all aspects of yourself allows for greater emotional stability because it reduces feelings of insecurity or shame associated with trying too hard to live up to unrealistic standards or goals set by society.

Tips for Practicing Self-Acceptance

Self-acceptance is key to leading a happier life. Here are some tips on how to practice self-acceptance:

  1. Focus on the things you love about yourself. Learn to appreciate your uniqueness and recognize your strengths.
  2. Take time to notice and acknowledge successes, no matter how small they may seem.
  3. Surround yourself with positive people who value and respect you unconditionally.
  4. Practice self-compassion. Don’t be too hard on yourself—remind yourself it’s OK to make mistakes or feel down sometimes.
  5. Develop an activity or habit that makes you feel good about yourself, such as exercising, meditating or creating art.

Think Positively About Yourself

As cheesy as it may initially sound, thinking positively about yourself is key to self-acceptance and self-esteem. Start by recognizing your own unique strengths and celebrating the successes in life, no matter how small. Appreciate that you are worthy of love and respect, even if you haven’t always been shown those positive affirmations. Focus on building on your skills and qualities but also work towards understanding the areas in which you may want to improve.

Recognize that most everyone has their own struggles and remember there’s strength in being vulnerable. Finally, develop a healthy outlook by understanding that there’s no one perfect way to be and accepting yourself as you are.

Practice Mindful Self-Compassion

Mindful self-compassion is the practice of being kind to oneself, rather than continuously self-criticizing and being hard on one’s self. It is a way of learning how to be more mindful of our feelings and thoughts so that we can show ourselves the same kindness we might show a friend.

Mindfulness meditation and loving-kindness meditation (or mindful self-compassion) can help us to become more compassionate towards ourselves by influencing our emotion-processing parts of the brain. Research suggests that practicing mindful self-compassion enables us to not just recognize, but also challenge any thoughts that are not beneficial for us, allowing us to be kinder to ourselves. By doing this, we may even be able to increase the overall connectivity throughout our brains.

Surround Yourself With Supportive People

Finding supportive people and connecting with them both online and offline is key for building your self-acceptance. People who understand what you’re going through and who can offer encouragement and encouragement when you need it are essential. Additionally, spending time with friends or family who encourage you and remind you of your good qualities is highly beneficial.

Shield yourself from negativity and surround yourself with positive energy; fill your life with activities that bring you joy; celebrate all your successes, large or small; look after your wellbeing – mind, body and soul; don’t be afraid to reach out for assistance; trust your judgement; avoid comparisons to others; stay compassionate and gentle towards yourself; talk kindly to yourself; give yourself credit for even the smallest of achievements; learn from mistakes and use them as an opportunity to grow.

Set Realistic and Achievable Goals

Setting realistic goals, mapping out actionable steps, then taking those steps—no matter how small they may be—can be an important part in building up your self-acceptance. Even if you don’t achieve the goal right away, taking those steps can help remind you that you are capable. Writing down affirmations such as “I am strong and capable” or “I am worthy” every day can also be helpful in reinforcing positive beliefs about yourself.

Additionally, studies suggest that engaging in physical activity regularly can help increase feelings of satisfaction with oneself over time (Haarala et al., 2017). Even if it just means taking a brisk walk around the block a few times per week, getting some exercise could be beneficial for boosting those feelings of self-acceptance.

Examples of Self-Acceptance in Everyday Life


Self-care is an important part of living a life full of self-acceptance. This includes making sure that we take time each day to do things that make us feel good—whether it’s getting enough sleep, cooking healthy meals, meditating, doing something creative, or simply taking a moment alone. When we give ourselves permission to do what we need to stay healthy mentally, physically, spiritually—and emotionally—it shows ourselves that we are worth caring for.

The act of pausing each day to truly appreciate who we are—imperfections included—is one way many people practice acceptance on a daily basis. Recognizing what makes us special as individuals and giving ourselves love for those traits expresses deep acceptance for oneself.

  • “Self-care is an important part of living a life full of self-acceptance.”
  • “When we give ourselves permission to do what we need to stay healthy mentally, physically, spiritually—and emotionally—it shows ourselves that we are worth caring for.”

Being Authentic

Learning how to be honest about who you are without feeling guilty or ashamed is key when striving towards self-acceptance. This means allowing yourself the space to share your true desires without fear while still respecting others’ boundaries. It also entails understanding what values matter most to you personally as well as using these values as guiding force when interacting with others.

For many individuals practicing authenticity leads them on a path towards embracing all aspects their identity —including potential flaws —instead of attempting at perfectionism with unrealistic expectations.

  • “Learning how to be honest about who you are without feeling guilty or ashamed is key when striving towards self-acceptance.”
  • “It also entails understanding what values matter most to you personally as well as using these values as guiding force when interacting with others.”

Making Mistakes

True self-acceptance doesn’t mean ignoring or excusing bad habits or behaviour – it’s about acknowledging the things we don’t like about ourselves without beating ourselves up. We don’t need to approve of those negative emotions or impulses, just accept them as part of who we are.

It requires us learn from our mistakes rather than attempt repressing then until their eruption later on in time becomes explosive.

  • “True self-acceptance does not mean neglecting or condoning bad behavior or unhealthy actions — rather it means acknowledging our negative emotions or impulses without judging them harshly.”
  • “It requires us learn from our mistakes rather than attempt repressing then until their eruption later on in time becomes explosive.”

Finding Fulfillment in Life

Finding fulfillment often happens once we start allowing ourselves capacity toward personal growth by seeing potential instead potential flaws — no longer perceiving glimpses our strengths due insecurity. Allowing ourselves space pursue avenues interest pursuits brings enjoyment, happiness, creativity new perspective. Fostering sense authentically acting upon deeply held passions creates sense purpose inner connectedness.

Overcoming Negative Thoughts and Embracing Self-Acceptance

Overcoming negative thoughts can be an arduous journey, yet the rewards of self-acceptance and self-esteem are invaluable. To find solace from those inner critics and criticisms, we must confront our fears and doubts head on. Start by cultivating gratitude for your assets and being kind to yourself through positive affirmations.

Instead of getting bogged down in perfectionism, focus on progress and embracing imperfections. Push yourself out of your comfort zone to challenge your beliefs and expand your horizons. By doing so, you can start enjoying life’s beauty, finding fulfillment within yourself, and unlocking a renewed sense of joy and confidence!

Recognizing Negative Thoughts

Before you can even begin to practice self-acceptance, it’s important to recognize any negative thoughts or beliefs you may have about yourself. This can be difficult, especially if those thoughts have been so intertwined with your sense of identity that you don’t even realize how much they’re impacting you. The first step is to become aware of these unhelpful patterns of thinking; take notice of the words and phrases that come most easily to mind when thinking about yourself.

Once you identify any negative thoughts, take a deeper look at what’s behind them. Are these beliefs based on fact or opinion? Do they come from your own experiences or are they merely an outdated way of thinking that no longer serves you? These questions can help you gain clarity and start replacing your negative thoughts with more productive ones.

Challenging Unhelpful Thoughts

Once you’ve identified any negative or unhelpful thoughts, it’s time to challenge them. Start by breaking down those thoughts into their individual components – for example, instead of viewing yourself as ‘disappointing’, consider what it is about the situation that has caused these feelings or beliefs. Was it something out of your control? Did someone else’s expectations play a role? By examining the root causes behind these thoughts, you can begin to recognize where they’re coming from and understand how they’re influencing your self-concept.

It’s also helpful to reframe the same thought in more positive terms — instead of feeling ‘not good enough’, Imagine how it would feel if you were able to accept yourself as you are right now. Take some time and reflect on the ways in which accepting yourself could bring more balance and harmony into your life.

Replacing Negative Thoughts With Positive Affirmations

Replacing unhelpful or negative thoughts is one key component of achieving true self-acceptance—it takes patience and practice but it is possible! Start by writing out what kind of person you’d like to be and why—this will help give shape to your aspirations for personal growth. Then, create words or phrases that express what kind of person you’d like to embody instead—such as “I am worthy” or “I accept myself fully”—and repeat them daily.

Reprogramming your brain to believe in yourself doesn’t have to be overwhelming! Start small by setting achievable goals each day, and reward yourself for completing them. Focus on taking breaks from social media, going for walks with friends or family, and allowing yourself simple pleasures – these little things can add up to real self-love over time.

Developing Self-Love and Embracing Your Unique Traits

Identifying Your Strengths and Talents

1. Identify the features that you appreciate about yourself, as well as experiences in which those qualities were displayed. Delve into your memory and employ all of your senses to recreate the moment and reinforce an optimistic outlook. Doing this may cause a bit of uneasiness initially, however make an effort to spend time reflecting on who YOU are instead of making comparisons to others.

“What are my areas of strength?” “How have I used these strengths/talents before?” “What do I enjoy doing?” “In what areas am I really successful?” “What type of compliments have I received about my abilities?”. Asking yourself questions like this can help bring awareness into which areas we excel in naturally.

Creating Personal Boundaries

Personal boundaries allow us to maintain our sense of identity while still engaging with others in healthy relationships. Creating boundaries involves defining limits around our comfort zone such as expressing our needs clearly without feeling guilty about saying ‘no’. This can be difficult for people because we sometimes fear being judged for asserting ourselves however once we learn how empowered decisions can make us feel—we don’t want to turn back.

Setting boundaries helps protect our physical and emotional wellbeing while also recognising other people’s perspectives. It creates a safe environment where everyone involved feels respected and validated even when opinions differ greatly. It requires practising assertive communication while accepting feedback without judgement whether positive or negative.

Consistently Showing Yourself Compassion And Care

Accepting your present self, with its imperfections and weaknesses. Not chasing a fantasy of who you can become once you accomplish some ambition or feat (like dropping pounds, joining a club, or acing an exam). Cherishing yourself in the moment, not waiting until some later point.

Staying mindful and developing strong self-care practices are essential components of living a wholesome life. Such habits may include getting enough physical activity to maximize our health, nourishing our bodies with nutritious foods, and cultivating meaningful relationships with the people around us. Whenever we stumble or make mistakes, it’s important to be gentle with ourselves instead of harshly punishing ourselves for messing up.


What factors contribute to a lack of self-acceptance?

Lack of self-acceptance can arise from a variety of sources. Negative self-talk, low self-esteem, trauma, and past experiences can all cause an individual to feel unworthy or undeserving of love and acceptance. Unhealthy comparisons with others, perfectionism, and judgemental attitudes towards oneself can all lead to decreased feelings of self-worth.

What is the distinction between accepting oneself and loving oneself?

Self-acceptance is about recognizing and embracing who we are, without judgement. It’s about being non-judgmental and understanding our limitations, strengths, and progress. Self-love, on the other hand, is a deeper form of self-care and respect that goes beyond just acceptance. We begin to prioritize ourselves and practice kindness towards ourselves. Self-love involves making time for your own personal needs, treating yourself with kindness, and investing in yourself.

What are the consequences of not accepting oneself?

The lack of self-acceptance can be incredibly damaging to a person’s confidence and mental wellbeing. It can lead to feelings of worthlessness and despair, causing individuals to be critical and overly harsh towards themselves. They may feel ashamed or embarrassed by their flaws, leading to difficulty in trusting others or in forming healthy relationships. Furthermore, it can cause an individual to become consumed with negative thoughts and emotions, resulting in low self-esteem and depression.

What is an example of caring for oneself?

Self-love is a practice of being kind and gentle to ourselves while recognizing our own worth and value. An example of self-love would be taking time for yourself to rest, relax, and recharge. It might involve setting boundaries with others so you can stay true to your values, or making time for meaningful activities that bring joy to your life. In essence, self-love is about honoring yourself, valuing yourself, and believing in yourself.

What are the main contributing factors to a lack of self-confidence?

Two main causes of lack of self-esteem are negative self-beliefs and unhealthy comparisons to others. Negative self-beliefs can be formed from past experiences and can lead to low confidence and self-doubt. Unhealthy comparison to others can also contribute to a feeling of inferiority and inadequacy, making it difficult for someone to build up their self-esteem.

How can I show self-love and appreciation?

Commit to yourself and show some love! Taking care of your physical and mental wellbeing is essential, like getting enough sleep and eating a balanced diet. Find time to do something you enjoy, like playing an instrument or reading a good book, and build self-confidence by rewarding yourself for small achievements. Take breaks when needed, be kind to yourself and think positively. Let go of negative thoughts, express gratitude and set boundaries with others to protect your energy.

Which is more important: having a positive self-image or accepting oneself as they are?

When it comes to self-awareness, it is difficult to decide which is more important: self-esteem or self-acceptance. Self-esteem can be described as evaluation of one’s own worth and value, while self-acceptance is the ability to accept oneself, flaws and all. Ultimately, both are essential for emotional well-being.

Having healthy self-esteem means accepting yourself for who you are and feeling proud of your accomplishments. This gives us a necessary sense of confidence in our abilities. On the other hand, self-acceptance involves letting go of perfectionism and understanding that we are all imperfect. It helps us build inner resilience so mistakes don’t feel like such devastating failures.

Ultimately, achieving an internal balance between these two qualities is key for experiencing positive self-regard. Practicing mindfulness and self-compassion can help with this balance in order to create a better relationship with yourself.


In conclusion, self-esteem and self-acceptance have a few core differences that ultimately affect an individual’s overall sense of happiness. Self-esteem takes into account both positive and negative attributes, while self-acceptance is more holistic and focused on accepting oneself as they are. Those looking to foster greater happiness in their lives should consider these two important concepts before making any major decisions!

So when can we use self esteem versus self acceptance? Well, it really depends on the situation you’re facing – because one may be more advantageous than the other depending on your goals or objectives. Ultimately though, if you focus on developing healthy levels of both self acceptance vs self esteem, you’ll find yourself living a happier life.