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Ontario Tech acknowledges the lands and people of the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation.

We are thankful to be welcome on these lands in friendship. The lands we are situated on are covered by the Williams Treaties and are the traditional territory of the Mississaugas, a branch of the greater Anishinaabeg Nation, including Algonquin, Ojibway, Odawa and Pottawatomi. These lands remain home to many Indigenous nations and peoples.

We acknowledge this land out of respect for the Indigenous nations who have cared for Turtle Island, also called North America, from before the arrival of settler peoples until this day. Most importantly, we acknowledge that the history of these lands has been tainted by poor treatment and a lack of friendship with the First Nations who call them home.

This history is something we are all affected by because we are all treaty people in Canada. We all have a shared history to reflect on, and each of us is affected by this history in different ways. Our past defines our present, but if we move forward as friends and allies, then it does not have to define our future.

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Seeking Self-Acceptance: A Guide

July 10, 2023

Do you accept yourself? What does it mean to accept oneself? This may seem like an unusual thing to ask. However, keep the following in mind: Do you embrace who you are in every way?

There are a lot of us who struggle to accept ourselves just as we are. It is not that difficult to embrace the positive aspects of oneself, but what about the other parts? Why on earth would we want to embrace our shortcomings and mistakes? Why is it so difficult to acknowledge and embrace one's worth? I know I have a lot of work to do to accept myself. But why is it so difficult?

What precisely does the phrase "self-acceptance" mean? 

As the concept's name and the phrase "self-acceptance" indicate, self-acceptance refers to the condition in which a person has learned to embrace every aspect of themselves. The first step toward genuine self-acceptance is to accept yourself as you are, without requirements, limits, or exceptions.

It is not simple to accept the things in ourselves that we so strongly want to alter, yet we must do so. But we can't even begin the process of improving ourselves in a meaningful way unless we first come to terms with who we are and fully embrace ourselves. 

To put it another way, before we can even begin the process of wanting to improve ourselves, we need to admit that we are not perfect and engage in unfavourable behaviours.

Why is it so hard to accept who you are? 

Saying it out loud is much easier than really putting it into practice. For instance, the setting in which you were raised could impact you.  Due to the difficulty of accepting oneself when society tells you that you are inferior, discrimination may also have an effect. In addition, it may be difficult to accept oneself if your upbringing gave you the impression that you were not accepted or if you have been through a traumatic incident that has altered the way you see yourself. 

Additionally, you may have been taught to think that these things are valid if you were raised to believe that you are inferior to others due to components of your identity or if you feel guilty about things that have occurred in the past. It may be more difficult to accept oneself due to these circumstances. But it doesn't imply it's impossible to develop self-acceptance if you've previously been ignored or subjected to discrimination or painful events. Even if it takes some time to acquire, self-acceptance is a habit that could help you in the long run.

Language carries with it a great deal of power. If we continue to convince ourselves that we despise who we are, we will begin to think that we feel that way. We believe that if we are honest and critical of ourselves enough, we will eventually improve. Aspirations for one's self-improvement may very rapidly transform into obsessive thoughts. When we focus on our shortcomings for an extended period, we give them a greater significance in our minds, to the point where we start to consider them to be the characteristics that best characterize who we are.

This isn't easy, and just because I'm learning about it and writing an essay on it doesn't mean I'm an expert or that I've come to terms with who I am. On the contrary, I am always aware of my weaknesses and am my toughest critic, which inspires me to strive for continuous growth. As you may know, I fuel my self-hatred by calling myself stupid, lazy, or unlikeable because I always feel like I can do better. As a result, we become bullies and believe me when I say that this feeling is terrible.

How, then, can you correct this? 

The first step is acknowledgment; if you are reading this, I can almost guarantee that you can relate and are eager to learn how to do and be better.

I put other people's needs before mine, and my sense of self-worth is directly proportional to how highly other people regard me. This brings us to the second phase. We need to stop seeking acceptance from other people and their opinions of us as a means of validating ourselves and depending on others to validate us. This is the foundation of our problem. Because many people in this world don't accept us for who we are, that's how it is.

You should also rephrase any negative thoughts you may have. You may do this by starting a journal, identifying your support network, and cultivating thankfulness, including listing the things you are grateful for. Other actions that may be taken to become closer to self-acceptance include: forgiving yourself, cultivating self-compassion; being present and conscious; recognizing your positive traits while ignoring your inner critic; getting over disappointments; gaining perspective on your limits; and so on.

This is not a straightforward process; it might take many days, weeks, or even months, and that is just OK. If you wake up intending to transform and better yourself daily, you progress in the correct direction. Embracing who you are, especially the qualities of yourself that you feel to be less than best may be challenging; yet, learning to do so can be a very gratifying experience.

If you've had difficulty accepting yourself, it's important to realize that there are methods to accept the here and now, get perspective on the past, and enjoy all that happens. By completing your research, wanting to change, and finding the drive, tiny steps may be done that can be developed into greater ones, but kudos to you, acknowledgement takes a lot of guts admitting there is something wrong and wanting to improve.

That being said, I wish you the best of success as you continue your quest for self-acceptance.