How I Made 22 Personality Changes Through Self-Acceptance

Self-acceptance led me to (at least!) 22 personality changes that I can identify — probably more! These changes occurred because at the core of self-acceptance is learning to tolerate shame. Self-acceptance isn’t just “loving yourself,” but learning to manage that very difficult experience of feeling unworthy — and manage it in healthy, balanced ways. 

In this blog I’ll describe the first 12 personality changes. If the following list sounds self-aggrandizing, please consider that I share this information not to brag, but to educate others about the transformative power of these ideas. (And I actually can’t claim credit for making these specific changes, because they largely occurred without conscious effort on my part!) 

  1. As I began to work on developing self-acceptance, I began to notice the huge volume of self-doubting, self-critical messages that popped up uninvited in my brain: “Are people staring at me? Did I say the wrong thing? Did I wear the wrong outfit? Do people like me?” Now, it is rare that I worry about my verbal missteps or fashion faux pas. Where I used to check a mirror everywhere I went, I now go hours without assessing my hair or my hemline. I spend very little time wondering whether I have offended someone. Where before I would walk into a room watching others for their approval or fearing their disapproval, I now enter situations not judging, not fearing being judged. I flow through life knowing that self-approval is far more important. 
  2. My habits at self-deprecation over the years created a cycle that kept me from recognizing the truth about myself. Because my self-worth was so low, I tended to dismiss or overlook compliments and positive messages: “They can’t possibly mean me!” I also repeated internal messages to myself about my inadequacies, reinforcing my already-low self-image. Being preoccupied with telling myself I was worthless, I wasn’t able to tune in to the signals others were sending me – a missed opportunity to hear real, accurate messages about myself and my abilities. Now I am able to honestly assess my talents and imperfections. And when I recognize my faults it is a realistic perception because I am not swept up in anxiety and fear that accompanies excessive self-shaming.
  3. I became aware of how often I had critical thoughts about others. “What is she wearing? His hair is weird.” I learned to consciously stop these automatic reactions, replace them with compassionate thoughts, and soon these judgmental thoughts faded away to almost nothing.
  4. I am no longer falsely humble or inappropriately self-promoting. I don’t sprinkle my speech with brags about my accomplishments or experiences. I can accept and give compliments graciously.
  5. Previously, I overachieved and drove myself to perfection in everything from housecleaning to my career in an attempt to forestall failure and criticism from others. Of course, that meant that I was a constant source of criticism toward myself. Now I have high standards, but only because I personally value the results, rather than doing tasks hoping for praise from others. I work hard and have good morals because I value these behaviors and character traits intrinsically. I have a clean house because I enjoy it, not because I’m afraid someone will stop by and judge me for being a slob.
  6. I have a realistic sense of myself, rather than mindlessly believing the opinions of certain people — opinions that were often tinged by their agendas of manipulation, dominance and control.
  7. I don’t assume automatically that things are my fault or worry that I might be wrong. 
  8. Previously, I perceived criticism even if there was none. A friend not returning a phone call, a person ignoring me at a party, not being invited to an event – I viewed all of these as rejection, when there may have been other perfectly good explanations.
  9. I used to feel tears well up when criticized or even just instructed on a new skill. I was on guard for threats to my self-worth. As a result, criticism led to a fear response — “fight-or-flight.”  Today, I can hear criticism or instruction calmly and I actually enjoy feedback. The experience is not intrinsically shaming, so I can respond without emotional distress or the placating behavior of crying. Some people handle shame and criticism through anger or blaming others — a specific personality type called “Other-Blamers” I talk about in depth in Self-Acceptance Psychology. 
  10. Another submissive behavior I had was crying when angry — and this is another habit that has ended completely and without effort. When I am angry, I expressed myself assertively and directly with congruent affect, not incongruent tears. 
  11. This one is quite intriguing because many people believe their blushing is uncontrollable. For 40 years or more I blushed very easily and frequently. But now I never blush! It is fascinating that as I learned to manage my shame and low self-worth, this physical symptom completely disappeared without any conscious effort on my part. (The power of learning to manage shame is remarkable!)
  12. I gradually realized that I had been far too submissive, placating and lacking in assertiveness. In the past, I felt I had no right to protect myself or respond incrementally to others. It was all or nothing. Either I was a submissive doormat with the door wide open or the door was shut and locked. Of course, this made me fearful and avoidant, because my relationship options were extremely limited. I now have the ability to respond appropriately and set boundaries for each person and each situation, which gives me much more strength and adaptability. As a result, I am fearless about confrontation, but can do so without anger. I don’t tremble in fear of the spoken or unspoken perceptions others may have of me, but can hear and respond to critics appropriately.

What is so powerful about the Self-Acceptance Psychology framework is that these behaviors changed with no conscious effort on my part, without my attention to individually reversing each habit. I didn’t recite affirmations or post reminders on my mirror. These behaviors changed naturally and effortlessly. As I became more self-accepting, the anxieties, fears, and insecurities that seemed such a natural part of my life eased away unnoticed, leaving a much more authentic, confident, and contented person.

For the next 10 personality changes, follow me on social media so you can continue to receive these blogs. Share your email and you’ll also get great info that way, if you’d like. Check out the video blog of this post on YouTube and subscribe to my channel for future posts. 

Be kind to yourself!

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