Does Self-Acceptance Really Come with Age? – Part 2

This is part 2 of the response to the 25-year-old women who wrote in to ask about self- acceptance. When does it come already…with age, experience or through working on it? She realizes her weight issues and unhappiness stem from a low self-esteem. Kudos to her for taking that first step.

“I recently came to the realization that regardless of any good traits, I have never liked myself. I am so dissatisfied with myself that I am uncomfortable with the fact that someone else would like me. I feel like an artist protecting unfinished work. I can’t let anyone close to the real me until I have perfected myself.

I have heard time and time again that self-acceptance comes with age but even as I take steps towards becoming the women that I want to be, my self-acceptance goes down. Do you have to reach a certain maturity level and self-acceptance kicks in? How can I get there?”

As I wrote last week many woman I talked to can relate to these feelings. Now here is part two on how to get there…

STOP setting PERFECT as the EXPECTION. Life will never will be perfect but you can make your own perfect.

 “I would say that at about 35-37 years of age, I started to accept myself.  I realized that I had all these unrealistic expectations (being PERFECT) about where I should be in my life; in my career and what size clothing I should be wearing.  The truth was, where I was, was actually a good place AND I could enjoy it and appreciate it.

I had been trying to lose the same 5 lbs for 20 years. When I was going to stop obsessing about it and enjoy the person that I was and be happy with the way I looked.   Although people acknowledged that I was doing well for myself, I never felt it.  When was I going to admit that to myself and enjoy the fruits of my labor?  Then I realized that life is not perfect and it never will be and that’s okay.  The truth was where I was in all aspects of my life was a good place, it is my perfect.”  – 40-something, business owner, single mom, NYC


The “demons” won’t go away on their own.

 “Simply put, no one can love you if you don’t love yourself. You can’t expect more self-acceptance as you age. The same personal challenges one doesn’t resolve in their 20s and 30s stay with you into your 40s. Heap on all the responsibilities that a 40-year-old life can bring and you’ve got a heavy load.

Passively hoping that time will heal all wounds is a recipe for failure. Using every day to face one’s demons is the work you’ll have to look forward to. The journey of tackling one’s demons (which change over time, btw) is the important thing to embrace.

Personally, I’ve engaged therapy, Rx, faith, friendship, and physical exertion to expunge my demons. You can’t do any of this alone. Maybe that’s the comfort one might expect one’s 40s…understanding it’s the lively journey and not the unrealistic end result.” – 40-something, Washington DC

Don’t ask why don’t you like yourself, ask why is it all that important to like yourself 100%?

 “I would question why is it important for you to really like yourself? We don’t like our friends and family ALL the time, so why would we like ourselves all the time. We all have good days and bad days and that is okay.

But you need to focus on the good and not fixate on the bad. I suggest you create a list of criteria for what constitutes elements of a good day and have more of those.

None of us know who we really are…so how can we really like ourselves all the time?  Surely that is the whole point of life.  It’s an exploration that includes trying things, finding out what you like, what worked, is working and what is not.

Think about what makes you happy. Start with small things – is it listening to music, reading a good book or watching a silly romantic movie. What sports you enjoy, what flowers make you smile? Does shimmying along the sidewalk in a great pair of shoes, putting on make-up and looking like a glam girl, buying some sexy underwear and indulging yourself or telling your family that you love them and giving them a hug…make you feel good?  Create your “closet” of happiness and keep adding to it.  Then you will have things to talk about with friends and things that you like doing with them.  And eventually with a partner too.

You have said that you “can’t let anyone near me until I have perfected myself”.   I would want you to flip this on its head. Why can’t you think about the fact that being in loving relationships is a part of you loving yourself…whether that be with friends or a partner.

In closing, you are doing a lot right: you have a vision, you have goals and you are going after them.  That shows drive, ambition and self-resilience. I think you need to re-calibrate.  Perhaps it’s about searching for happiness and contentment rather than perfection (I cant think of anyone who is perfect — we are human and to err is to be human)”.   – 40-something, NYC

I wish I had sought counseling earlier to help myself gain self-acceptance. It works! 

“Self-loathing comes in all shapes, sizes, ages, and levels of success, just as self-love does.  An inability to accept and like yourself is rooted deeper than weight, grades, job title, zip code, or anything else that we conventionally judge ourselves and others by.

There is no shame in seeking counseling and even taking an anti-depressant if needed/appropriate. I did it in my mid-30s and should have done it a lot sooner!!!  I’ve since been equipped with higher self-esteem, confidence, motivation, and resilience, as well as the ability to accept things about myself even if I don’t like them. For instance, not liking my body doesn’t mean I don’t like me.”  – 40-something, Washington DC

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