Category Archives: Self Acceptance

# 57 Look Forward to Growing Old & Being Yourself

  Older Woman Smilingyellow-dot

      Let’s think about aging for a bit.  When I was younger I dreaded aging.  What is there possibly to look forward to about getting older?  Then I saw the movie, On Golden Pond.  This is the family classic with Henry Fonda, daughter Jane Fonda, and Kathryn Hepburn which came out in 1981.  In the movie Kathryn Hepburn makes the casual statement that now that she is older, she doesn’t worry about what other people think of her any more.

Wow, I thought.  Imagine not having to worry about what other people thought of you any more.  Now that was something to look forward to.  I began to notice that older people went about their lives with little thought to the judgments of others.  My youthful preoccupation in my high school and college years with my mother’s embarrassing behavior suddenly took on a whole new meaning.  Perhaps it wasn’t she who had the problem, but me.  Instead of being embarrassed by her, I should be trying to emulate her.  I began to pay close attention to the older women in my church, how comfortable they were with themselves.  They were long past caring and moved through their lives with grace and ease–whether they were bird watching, folk dancing, or demonstrating for world peace and clean rivers.  I began to look forward to old age as a time of complete security with myself and the emotional freedom to do as I like without anxiety.  I decided to move toward that goal as early as I could.  After all, why wait till I’m 70 if I can get there at 40 or 50?  Now that  I am in my 60’s I have arrived at that level of emotional freedom,  and my lack of concern with the judgments of others is the source of embarrassment to my own 20 something daughter.

Watch a movie today about older people.  Here are some suggestions.  Besides On Golden Pond, try these:

The Old Man and the Sea (1958) with Spencer Tracy

Wild Strawberries (1967) by Ingmar Bergman

The Sunshine Boys (1975) with George Burns and Walter Matthau

Love Among the Ruins (1975) with Katherine Hepburn and Laurence Olivier

Cocoon (1985) with Don Ameche

Trip to Bountiful (1985) with Geraldine Page

Whales of August (1987) with Bette Davis and Lillian Gish

Driving Miss Daisy (1989) with Morgan Freeman and Jessica Tandy

Grumpy Old Men  (1993) with Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau

About Schmidt (2002) with Jack Nicholson

 Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood (2002) with Ellen Burstyn

Just for today, pretend that you are old and that you are long past caring what people think of you.

Say what you care to say and do what you feel free to do.  Be yourself.



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# 52 Act As If You Had Self Confidence




“Oh, I wish I could do that, but I have low self esteem.  I will go to the psychotherapist who will give me self-confidence.  Then I will do that.”

What is self-esteem?  At its simplest, it is the felt sum of our pluses and minuses at any given point in time.  When our projects turn out well, when people respond positively to us, when we complete a task successfully, or get positive feedback, our plus column gets a little longer.  When our efforts fail, when people turn away from us, when we face disappoint- ment, our minus column lengthens.  However, there is another important source of minuses.  What many people with low self esteem fail to understand is that by turning  away from an endeavor that might fail, by avoiding challenges, that is not a plus, that is a minus.  Years and years of minuses fill up the minus column.  In fact, low self esteem, or low self worth is shaped more by what we avoid doing than by any actual experience of failure or rejection.

Suppose you are one of those people who say they have low self esteem.  Act like someone who has a positive sense of self.  Do what people do who believe in themselves.  The behavior will become more natural over time and the feelings will follow.


  1. What would you do if you had more self esteem? Be more assertive? Initiate a conversation with a stranger? Learn a new skill?  Do it anyway for a day. Fake it. Write down how much self confidence you have at the end of the day.








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#27 Accept Your Limitations

Take Pride Spokesman Clint Eastwood

Take Pride Spokesman Clint Eastwood (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

yellow-dot          Clint Eastwood said, “A man has got to know his limitations.”

Dirty Harry

Many of us struggle with our faults and shortcomings.  Even worse, we may live in an environment in which we are confronted constantly with our lapses.  Those among us who live full, rich lives are able to embrace our strengths and accept our limitations.

In an earlier post, we took the VIA test and derived a sense of what our strengths are.  In this post, we move toward embracing our limitations.  Repeat this phrase, “I must accept my own limitations.  I can only be as smart as I am, as good as I am, as strong as I am, etc.  I cannot be anything more than what I am.  These are my own personal limitations I must come to terms with.”

List several personal limitations below.  Try using the sentence completions listed.

“I must come to accept my lack of ….  _____________________________________________________________

“I can only …  _____________________________________________________________________________


“I must accept my inability to … _________________________________________________________________


“The truth is I am simply not very good at… _________________________________________________________


Let it be so

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#25 Forgive Yourself

yellow-dotPeople who are excessively critical of others are usually prone to fault-finding with themselves as well.  It is as if our internal radar which is scanning theart show piece,bunnell environment is tuned to mistakes, errors, and lapses.

Learning to forgive others, and ultimately to live in harmony with the human race, begins with forgiving oneself.

At the end of Sheldon Kopp’s book, If You Meet the Buddha, is a  “laundry list” of words to live by.  My favorite is this one:  “I must forgive myself again and again.”

Toward the end of the day, complete this statement,

“I forgive myself for my mistakes and my less than stellar performances.  Today I forgive myself for:

If at the end of the day you find yourself reviewing all your mistakes and frustrations, your failures and regrets, bring your negative brooding to a close  with your statement of for-giveness.  Then shift over to asking yourself this question,

“What are three things I did right today?”    Write it out for today.

“What went well today?”

“What lucky break came my way today?”


Kopp, S.  If You Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him. Bantan:  1972, re-issued 1982.

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#24 Know Your Strengths


Courage (Photo credit: drp)


It is often easy to see our weaknesses.  Maybe you’re not good with money.  Perhaps you’re impatient and get agitated when you have to wait.  You feel you would like to get more organized, but you’ve been procrastinating on that (that’s two weaknesses).

What are your strengths?  Martin Seligman (2002) asserts that it is important to know your character strengths as well.  He defines a character strength as “a trait, a psychological characteristic that can be seen across different institutions and over time” (p. 137).  Strengths in people are valued for their own sake, whether they produce good outcomes or not.  They are embodied by the people we most admire.

Christopher Peterson and Martin Seligman have developed a questionnaire to measure 20 core character strengths in people.  They are:

Wisdom and Knowledge

(1)  Curiosity, Interest in the world

(2)  Love of learning

(3)  Judgment/Critical thinking/Open-mindedness

(4)  Ingenuity/Originality/Practical intelligence/Street smarts

(5)  Social intelligence/Personal intelligence/Emotional intelligence

(6)  Perspective


(7)  Valor and bravery

(8)  Perseverance/Industry/Diligence

(9)  Integrity/Genuineness/Honesty

Humanity and Love

(10) Kindness and generosity

(11) Loving and allowing oneself to be loved


(12) Citizenship/Duty/Teamwork/Loyalty

(13) Fairness and equity

(14) Leadership


(15) Self Control

(16) Prudence

(17) Humility and modesty


(18) Appreciation of beauty and excellence

(19) Gratitude

(20) Hope/Optimism/Future-mindedness

(21) Spirituality/Sense of purpose/Faith/Religiousness

(22) Forgiveness and mercy

(23) Playfulness and humor

(24) Zest/Passion/Enthusiasm

* Go to the Values In Action (VIA) website at:

Register, create your password, and take the 48 item survey of signature strengths.  List your top three:

*  Consider how these strengths have brought you satisfaction, success, or positive feedback from others in the past.

*  Make a note of how these strengths are bringing you satisfaction, success, or positive feedback from others currently in your life.

*  Take one of these strengths.  How could you do more to use this strength in the near future?


Seligman, M.  2002. Authentic Happiness.  New York:  Free Press.

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# 6 Practice Letting Go of Mistakes

Buddha Statueyellow-dot Sheldon Kopp was somewhat of a guru to the psychotherapy field in the 1970’s.  In his book If You Meet the Buddha on the Road Kill Him, he summed up the human condition this way:  As human beings we stand somewhere between having total freedom to make our own decisions and total helplessness.  At least in this culture, we are given total responsibility for our lives without total control over it.  All of our important decisions must be made on the basis of insufficient data.  We take our best shot, face the consequences, good or bad, and go forward.

All of us have regrets over past mistakes, wrong choices, the road not taken, the thing we didn’t do.  It is easy to see where we went wrong once all the data is in.  However, we are always making decisions based on partial information because we don’t have a crystal ball, and we can’t look into the future to see how things will turn out..  What did you know afterward that you didn’t know at the time?

Remind yourself you were acting on partial information and you gave it your best shot.  Now let it go.  Write down your statement of self-forgiveness.


S. Kopp, 1972.  If You Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him.  New York:  Bantam.

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