Why Self-Acceptance Is A Self-Help Trap

On the surface, self-acceptance and self-love are great concepts but in reality, they can be a sure path to stagnation and setbacks.

I agree that it is important to accept yourself, your life, and your life circumstances without self-judgment or incrimination. Going through life and constantly beating yourself up over the way things are (or the way you are) is neither healthy nor productive.

The self-help movement, teachers, methods and models often stress self-love and acceptance as a means to overcome negative thought patterns and their subsequent self-defeating emotions and behaviors, and this is a good thing.



Self-acceptance is not a license to give up and just go with what is though. If your health, your finances, your weight, your career, if any of these things are sub-optimal in your life and you recognize it, then of course accept yourself and the way things are, and don’t hold it against yourself.

The problem is that this is where people stop.

The bottom line is this… in every way you should love yourself, your life, and accept yourself just the way you are, but you should also love yourself enough to expect more out of yourself and for yourself as well.

Take parenting as an example. Parents typically love and accept their children just the way they are. Yet most parents always want more for their children than they had. Don’t most parents who love their kids also have expectations for their kids to grow and to expand their horizons and opportunities in life? Parents love their children, accept their children, and they are correct in expecting more out of them at the same time.

Why then should you be any different with yourself?

If you just accept something is the way that it is or the way that you are, and it is in an area of your life where you can improve and probably should improve but you don’t do anything about it… guess what? More than likely a year from now or two years from now, that same issue will have become worse, setting the bar even lower. If you blindly apply the idea of self-acceptance to these newer circumstances, are you not just giving in to a new but lower standard of living and life?

The obesity problem in this country is the perfect example of self-acceptance run amok. How many articles, memes, and pithy quotes do you see on social media daily preaching the message that being overweight and “curvy” is okay? How many people then buy into this illusion and then instead of doing anything about their weight issue, which will certainly become a health issue in due time, refuse to do anything about it? It is this kind of self-acceptance, and lack of action that is actually pushing us closer to the brink of a national health crisis. This kind of self-acceptance is not doing anyone any good.

You can apply the same logic to any area of life where people may have difficulties. If you find yourself in massive debt, the first step is to accept it and yourself for getting yourself into that situation. But after that you had better start loving yourself enough to take some action into remedying it otherwise that big hole which is your financial situation will grow and be even larger and more overwhelming next year; if you’re not careful, you can self-accept yourself right into financial bankruptcy.

Blind self-acceptance is a trap that can lead to further negative situations and consequences in the future if left unchecked. It will never be the solution to your problems in life, but instead just allows for the way things are in that moment. It is a place from where you start, not a place where you should just stay indefinitely.

Never forget the next step, which is to love yourself and to express that self-love by expecting better for yourself, and then taking action to make it happen. Set new and higher standards for yourself and work towards those ends. Through that, accept yourself as you progress though the process, and keep going forward. Self-acceptance is never the destination; rather it is your stepping off point on your journey for personal growth and betterment.

Don’t get stuck in the trap.

Andy Wooten M.A. Counseling – Certified Life Coach – Aspen, Colorado

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