NYC Psychotherapist Blog

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Sunday, January 8, 2012

Want to Change? Start By Accepting Yourself As You Are Right Now

It might sound counterintuitive, but the best way to achieve lasting change is to accept yourself as you are right now. After all, you might say, you can't change and remain as you are at the same time. But, if you think about this for a moment, you might see that this isn't what I mean. The key words in this blog post title is "start by accepting."

Accepting Yourself As You Are Now

What Does It Mean to Accept Yourself as You Are?
But what do we mean when we talk about "accepting" who we are? Does this mean we're complacent and we're not exploring ways to improve? Does "accepting" mean we've given up or we feel hopeless? Not at all! If anything, it's just the opposite! But why?

When we accept ourselves at a certain point in time, we're acknowledging what is. We're not in denial or pretending that things are different. We're not wallowing in self hatred or calling ourselves a "failure" because we're not where we want to be. On the contrary, we're starting at the point where we're saying, "This is where I am right now. I'd like things to be different, and I'll work towards that goal. But, for now, this is where I am."

Why is It So Important to Accept Yourself as You Are?
So, you might ask why it's so important to start by accepting yourself as you are? Well, for one thing, if we want to make changes we need to acknowledge the current situation. Otherwise, how will we know what we're changing from? We need a starting point. 

Secondly, very often, when we don't start by accepting ourselves as we are, we become so negative about ourselves that we sabotage our own efforts to change. The "voice of negative prediction" starts to haunt us: "You'll never change. You've tried it before and you failed. You'll fail again because you're a failure."

Let's take a common example: As part of their New Year's resolutions, many people make a commitment to lose weight. One of the obstacles that gets in the way is that people who want to lose weight start out by being very self critical about their body image. They berate themselves for being overweight, compare themselves unfavorable to others, and then dwell on all the reasons why they're not going to succeed. This negativity and self criticism sets them up to fail because they get to the point where they say to themselves, "Why bother?"

How much different it is when a person comes from a place of self acceptance. Instead of being self critical and feeling shame and self loathing, they feel nurturing towards themselves. With this positive attitude, they're much more likely to be nurturing towards themselves, thereby increasing the likelihood that they'll stick with their healthy weight loss plan.

Self Acceptance Can Be Challenging
Getting to the point of self acceptance can be challenging. Ingrained negative ways of thinking can be hard to change. 

If you're struggling to make positive changes, but you're stuck in old negative patterns, you could benefit from seeing a licensed mental health professional who has expertise in helping clients overcome these obstacles.

About Me
I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR therapist, and Somatic Experiencing therapist.

I work with individual adults and couples, and I've helped many clients overcome obstacles to living a more fulfilling life.

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 during business hours or email me.