The Price of Ambition: Self-Love vs. Self-Acceptance

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They may sound similar, but self-love is different from self-acceptance. Both are certainly necessary for success, but only one promotes your best self in the long run: self-love. Where self-acceptance can often equal a complacency that slows your drive and motivation, self-love requires you to be critical of yourself.

Wait! Don't go! It's not as scary as it sounds.

That's because self-love means being kind to yourself. It means finding things that keep you functioning and filled up emotionally. Sometimes, we can't just accept where we are, even if it's easier. No, especially if it's easier. Sometimes, we have to fight with ourselves because we shouldn't accept our current state. We all have those moments where we need to look in the mirror and say: "I can do better than this."

When Self-Love and Self-Acceptance Intersect

It's true, they can become one! And surprisingly, it's all summed up in this simple phrase:

 “I love myself so much that I will only accept my best.”

Repeat it. Say it to yourself in the mirror. Make it your mantra. Why? Because it's true! Listen, you need to learn to accept the things you have no control over. We all do. If for nothing else, do it for your sanity. If it's unchangeable, it's pointless to try and change it.

But you can do something about how your body performs. You can go to bed early and wake up feeling better. You can improve on how you interact with others and communication.

What's the Right Way to Critique Myself?

When you’re being critical of yourself, there is a way to do it without being cruel. Think of yourself the same way you'd think of a coworker. You have feelings too, and you're probably the best equipped to hurt them. And don't forget: criticizing yourself is not a bad thing. It’s for the betterment of you! Talk about motivating.

Here are 5 ways to constructively criticize yourself:

1.       Never name call. No words like “idiot,” “dumb,” “lame," etc. Too much of that, and you might actually start believing it. It's not true, so stop!

2.       Criticize and then move forward. You made a mistake, don’t dwell. You can't go back in time.

3.       Be specific with what you want to change. E.g., "I DO NOT want to change my love for video games, but I DO want to regulate how often I play."

4.       Remind yourself of how you feel when you don’t live up to your own standards. At the same time, remind yourself how you feel when you do!

5.       Make sure that this is something YOU want to change. Are you doing it for others? That breeds resentment, which is woefully counterproductive.

If you are never criticized, you may not be doing much that makes a difference.

The Wrong Way to Self-Criticize

Don't wake up for the fifth day in a row of binge-gaming and head to work looking like a trash panda. Self-acceptance in that regard is self-destruction, because something needs to change. You're not at your best, so you'd be missing the self-love part.

For this example, you'd develop the mantra: “I love that I am into video games and that playing helps me relax. But I do not accept that I can’t control how long I play. I can't accept how it affects my work life either."

Now that is some productive self-love – with a dash of necessary criticism.

In Conclusion

Don’t hate yourself. That never gets you anywhere. Indulge in the things that make you happy and make you feel loved, but do so in moderation. When you reach a point of going overboard with anything, it’s time to question your level of self-acceptance and go into edit mode (AKA, self-love).

As the Serenity Prayer goes, “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”