According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, approximately 40 million individuals in the United States have some form of an anxiety disorder. For some, anxiety puts up roadblocks in the way of happiness. It appears out of nowhere, tarnishing ordinary situations with fear and panic. For about 15 million adults in the US, the weight of clinical depression leaves them feeling as if they are stuck in a deep, black hole. They may want to be happy but the darkness can feel insurmountable. Even people who have never struggled with clinical depression or anxiety will have to face the occasional emotional crisis or blue mood. The good news is that finding happiness is possible when you’re equipped with the emotional power tools to chip away at depression, reduce anxiety, and improve resilience. Guess what? It turns out that self-acceptance is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself. And while it may seem impossible, self-acceptance can be achieved in time no matter how bad you might be feeling right now.
Why is self-acceptance a key part of anxiety and panic recovery? While anxiety is a brain disorder, not a choice, it still stands to reason that if we accepted ourselves for who we are, anxiety wouldn’t be such a widespread problem. This is especially true for those who struggle with social anxiety, because if you can’t accept yourself, it’s hard to believe others will be able to accept you. If you’re constantly judging yourself based on what other people think, how can you see your self-worth? The solution is self-acceptance. That means no self-judgment, self-criticism, and comparing yourself to others for those things which are superficial in nature. It can be amazingly healing.
How does self-acceptance help to relieve anxiety? Self-acceptance is the ability to be OK with who you are and how you feel right now. By accepting your anxiety, you learn to stop judging yourself for having those thoughts. It no longer bothers you and now you can focus on other things. This is what enables you, in time, to remove its power and break free from the cycle. You don’t have to feel that everything is just right at this moment to have self-acceptance; instead it’s about being OK with the fact that everything isn’t OK.
There will never be a time when everything is absolutely perfect. You’ll always have new problems, issues to face, mistakes you’ve made, and times when you feel lost. But when you can accept that, it will help you make positive changes in responding to your anxiety. And when you practice self-acceptance for a while, you just may find that you feel calmer inside and your anxiety begins to fade away.
By Andrew Walen, LCSW-C, LICSW, CEDS, Executive Director at The Better Brain Center. If you would like to get in touch with Andrew please call 833-964-8483 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.