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How to Accept Yourself for Who You Are and Be Happy

How to Accept Yourself for Who You Are and Be Happy

When you cultivate relationships with new people that forge a lifelong bond, it is doubtful that you are going to try to change that person. You’re not going to make them feel that they are any less of a person because of who they are, what they like, or what they pursue in life. We all know that this isn’t the right way to make connections with another human being.

Yet when we approach ourselves and continue our relationships with ourselves, there seems to be a desire to change, punish, or alter ourselves to meet certain expectations. If you were doing this to another person, this would be seen as unacceptable! We shouldn’t treat ourselves any differently.

The simple truth of life is that your only stable and lifelong relationship is with yourself. Because of this, it is the most important one you are going to have and, one that you will need to nurture if you want to lead a happy life. True, you will want to change some things but there is a massive benefit to simply accepting and moving forward from there.

If you have a hard time settling down with you, here are some tips on how to accept yourself so that you can start living a life that others dream of!

1. Take Some Time to Sit With Yourself and Discover Who You Are

The major problem that many people face when it comes to self-acceptance is that they have yet to engage in self-discovery. Many people may feel purposeless and lost, which is ultimately due to a lack of self and an unclear understanding of who you are and what you want.

Self-discovery is a necessary first step but it is one that comes with a lot of work and is ever-changing. Starting your own self-discovery journey may consist of the following:

Discovering Your Purpose

Each of us may feel like we are called to do something at some point in time that will help to grow others as well as ourselves.

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What are you passionate about? What gets you fired up and makes you forget about everything else? What is something that you could picture doing for the rest of your life?

Sometimes, the best way to discover purpose is simply to go out and do until you learn more about where your passions lie.

Learning More About Your Values and Beliefs

Values and beliefs, which may stem from childhood or, may come from experience in recent years, help to set up structure in our lives and drive us towards the things that matter most to us.

Are you someone who has strong ties to family? Do you rely on honesty and integrity to live your life? What are your spiritual or religious beliefs? What type of community do you want to build or belong to?

These are some important questions to ask as these questions dictate what choices you make along your path.

Journal and Keep Track of the Day-to-Day

Even if you are unsure of who you are, what you do on a regular basis will certainly tell you everything you need to know.

What are some things that you like to do? What are things that are not necessarily fun for you? What are some habits that you have cultivated, healthy or otherwise? What are your dreams? Ambitions? Goals?

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We all have things that make us unique. Take the time to learn more about those aspects of the self.

There’s this misconception that acceptance goes hand-in-hand with a refusal to change but that’s not true. Acceptance starts with recognition and embracing who that person is. You will then go on to nurture them and to change some of those unhealthy aspects, so that you can become who you want to be.[1]

2. Accept What You Can’t Change

You are who you are. You love what you love. There are some things that you will be able to change in your life (for the better) and, there are some things that will simply be for the rest of your time here on earth.

Expending mental energy on wishing you can change things that are never going to change is a waste of your time and will inevitably lead to sadness. Whatever it is that you wish you could change, know that you are a worthy human being regardless of what it is you are insecure about.

Take time to be kind to yourself, let your guard down and embrace these things, and learn how to overcome that inner voice that tells you that you’re not good enough. In order to be happy with who we are, we must allow ourselves to be accepting of all aspects of the self.

The biggest barrier for most people, however, is learning how to cultivate acceptance of the self. If you are struggling at this point, here are some tips that will allow you to tackle the project easier:

  • Practice positive self-talk and challenge any negative thoughts that come out of you as they are released.
  • Choose to be loving towards yourself and your flaws, rather than trying to hide them away or ignore them.
  • Accept that everything that has happened has led you to this point and will carry you to your goals as you work towards them.
  • Spend some time with yourself engaging in enjoyable activities so that you can bond with yourself and fall in love with that person.
  • Know that you will have easy days as well as hard days. Take them as they come.

It may take time but in the end, you are going to be grateful that you put in the effort to cultivate self-love.[2]

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3. Change What Needs to Be Changed for Your Benefit

Not all change is good change. Some change can be harmful and that change needs to be avoided.

However, some change can be beneficial and that change is the type that helps to grow you as a person and allows you to blossom into the person you want to be.

Acceptance and acknowledging of yourself and the world around you is great but, you need to understand that acceptance can be both a tool of dissatisfaction and happiness. Things you can’t change must be embraced and you need to love those things; but things that can and must be changed require your immediate attention.

You are a growing and constantly evolving person and, everything that you do needs to be done in your best interest. For example, let’s say that you have made a number of bad choices in your past that have impacted your social and financial life. While you need to accept that these choices have been made and accept the experience that got you there, you shouldn’t accept your situation.

Knowing what needs to be changed and what needs to be embraced boils down to one thing: does it allow you to live a happy life?

If it is (realistically) impacting you in a negative manner, it needs to go.

If it impacts you but it is a result of negative self-image and is not something that would need to be changed otherwise, embrace it.

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If it is something that you are still going to change regardless, proceed with caution.

All paths should ultimately lead to happiness.[3]

Final Thoughts

You are you and that is something that is never going to change. When you learn to accept yourself and work towards the best version of you that you can be, you set yourself up for a life that has an abundance of happiness and progress.

Need some extra help implementing the tips that you learned above? Take a look at these articles:

Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Dylan Buckley

Dylan is Lifehack's Motivation Expert specializing in self-development, with extensive experience working for life coaches and startups.

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Last Updated on October 22, 2020

8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

How would you feel if you were sharing a personal story and noticed that the person to whom you were speaking wasn’t really listening? You probably wouldn’t be too thrilled.

Unfortunately, that is the case for many people. Most individuals are not good listeners. They are good pretenders. The thing is, true listening requires work—more work than people are willing to invest. Quality conversation is about “give and take.” Most people, however, want to just give—their words, that is. Being on the receiving end as the listener may seem boring, but it’s essential.

When you are attending to someone and paying attention to what they’re saying, it’s a sign of caring and respect. The hitch is that attending requires an act of will, which sometimes goes against what our minds naturally do—roaming around aimlessly and thinking about whatnot, instead of listening—the greatest act of thoughtfulness.

Without active listening, people often feel unheard and unacknowledged. That’s why it’s important for everyone to learn how to be a better listener.

What Makes People Poor Listeners?

Good listening skills can be learned, but first, let’s take a look at some of the things that you might be doing that makes you a poor listener.

1. You Want to Talk to Yourself

Well, who doesn’t? We all have something to say, right? But when you are looking at someone pretending to be listening while, all along, they’re mentally planning all the amazing things they’re going to say, it is a disservice to the speaker.

Yes, maybe what the other person is saying is not the most exciting thing in the world. Still, they deserve to be heard. You always have the ability to steer the conversation in another direction by asking questions.

It’s okay to want to talk. It’s normal, even. Keep in mind, however, that when your turn does come around, you’ll want someone to listen to you.

2. You Disagree With What Is Being Said

This is another thing that makes you an inadequate listener—hearing something with which you disagree with and immediately tuning out. Then, you lie in wait so you can tell the speaker how wrong they are. You’re eager to make your point and prove the speaker wrong. You think that once you speak your “truth,” others will know how mistaken the speaker is, thank you for setting them straight, and encourage you to elaborate on what you have to say. Dream on.

Disagreeing with your speaker, however frustrating that might be, is no reason to tune them out and ready yourself to spew your staggering rebuttal. By listening, you might actually glean an interesting nugget of information that you were previously unaware of.

3. You Are Doing Five Other Things While You’re “Listening”

It is impossible to listen to someone while you’re texting, reading, playing Sudoku, etc. But people do it all the time—I know I have.

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I’ve actually tried to balance my checkbook while pretending to listen to the person on the other line. It didn’t work. I had to keep asking, “what did you say?” I can only admit this now because I rarely do it anymore. With work, I’ve succeeded in becoming a better listener. It takes a great deal of concentration, but it’s certainly worth it.

If you’re truly going to listen, then you must: listen! M. Scott Peck, M.D., in his book The Road Less Travel, says, “you cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time.” If you are too busy to actually listen, let the speaker know, and arrange for another time to talk. It’s simple as that!

4. You Appoint Yourself as Judge

While you’re “listening,” you decide that the speaker doesn’t know what they’re talking about. As the “expert,” you know more. So, what’s the point of even listening?

To you, the only sound you hear once you decide they’re wrong is, “Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah!” But before you bang that gavel, just know you may not have all the necessary information. To do that, you’d have to really listen, wouldn’t you? Also, make sure you don’t judge someone by their accent, the way they sound, or the structure of their sentences.

My dad is nearly 91. His English is sometimes a little broken and hard to understand. People wrongly assume that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about—they’re quite mistaken. My dad is a highly intelligent man who has English as his second language. He knows what he’s saying and understands the language perfectly.

Keep that in mind when listening to a foreigner, or someone who perhaps has a difficult time putting their thoughts into words.

Now, you know some of the things that make for an inferior listener. If none of the items above resonate with you, great! You’re a better listener than most.

How To Be a Better Listener

For conversation’s sake, though, let’s just say that maybe you need some work in the listening department, and after reading this article, you make the decision to improve. What, then, are some of the things you need to do to make that happen? How can you be a better listener?

1. Pay Attention

A good listener is attentive. They’re not looking at their watch, phone, or thinking about their dinner plans. They’re focused and paying attention to what the other person is saying. This is called active listening.

According to Skills You Need, “active listening involves listening with all senses. As well as giving full attention to the speaker, it is important that the ‘active listener’ is also ‘seen’ to be listening—otherwise, the speaker may conclude that what they are talking about is uninteresting to the listener.”[1]

As I mentioned, it’s normal for the mind to wander. We’re human, after all. But a good listener will rein those thoughts back in as soon as they notice their attention waning.

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I want to note here that you can also “listen” to bodily cues. You can assume that if someone keeps looking at their watch or over their shoulder, their focus isn’t on the conversation. The key is to just pay attention.

2. Use Positive Body Language

You can infer a lot from a person’s body language. Are they interested, bored, or anxious?

A good listener’s body language is open. They lean forward and express curiosity in what is being said. Their facial expression is either smiling, showing concern, conveying empathy, etc. They’re letting the speaker know that they’re being heard.

People say things for a reason—they want some type of feedback. For example, you tell your spouse, “I had a really rough day!” and your husband continues to check his newsfeed while nodding his head. Not a good response.

But what if your husband were to look up with questioning eyes, put his phone down, and say, “Oh, no. What happened?” How would feel, then? The answer is obvious.

According to Alan Gurney,[2]

“An active listener pays full attention to the speaker and ensures they understand the information being delivered. You can’t be distracted by an incoming call or a Facebook status update. You have to be present and in the moment.

Body language is an important tool to ensure you do this. The correct body language makes you a better active listener and therefore more ‘open’ and receptive to what the speaker is saying. At the same time, it indicates that you are listening to them.”

3. Avoid Interrupting the Speaker

I am certain you wouldn’t want to be in the middle of a sentence only to see the other person holding up a finger or their mouth open, ready to step into your unfinished verbiage. It’s rude and causes anxiety. You would, more than likely, feel a need to rush what you’re saying just to finish your sentence.

Interrupting is a sign of disrespect. It is essentially saying, “what I have to say is much more important than what you’re saying.” When you interrupt the speaker, they feel frustrated, hurried, and unimportant.

Interrupting a speaker to agree, disagree, argue, etc., causes the speaker to lose track of what they are saying. It’s extremely frustrating. Whatever you have to say can wait until the other person is done.

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Be polite and wait your turn!

4. Ask Questions

Asking questions is one of the best ways to show you’re interested. If someone is telling you about their ski trip to Mammoth, don’t respond with, “that’s nice.” That would show a lack of interest and disrespect. Instead, you can ask, “how long have you been skiing?” “Did you find it difficult to learn?” “What was your favorite part of the trip?” etc. The person will think highly of you and consider you a great conversationalist just by you asking a few questions.

5. Just Listen

This may seem counterintuitive. When you’re conversing with someone, it’s usually back and forth. On occasion, all that is required of you is to listen, smile, or nod your head, and your speaker will feel like they’re really being heard and understood.

I once sat with a client for 45 minutes without saying a word. She came into my office in distress. I had her sit down, and then she started crying softly. I sat with her—that’s all I did. At the end of the session, she stood, told me she felt much better, and then left.

I have to admit that 45 minutes without saying a word was tough. But she didn’t need me to say anything. She needed a safe space in which she could emote without interruption, judgment, or me trying to “fix” something.

6. Remember and Follow Up

Part of being a great listener is remembering what the speaker has said to you, then following up with them.

For example, in a recent conversation you had with your co-worker Jacob, he told you that his wife had gotten a promotion and that they were contemplating moving to New York. The next time you run into Jacob, you may want to say, “Hey, Jacob! Whatever happened with your wife’s promotion?” At this point, Jacob will know you really heard what he said and that you’re interested to see how things turned out. What a gift!

According to new research, “people who ask questions, particularly follow-up questions, may become better managers, land better jobs, and even win second dates.”[3]

It’s so simple to show you care. Just remember a few facts and follow up on them. If you do this regularly, you will make more friends.

7. Keep Confidential Information Confidential

If you really want to be a better listener, listen with care. If what you’re hearing is confidential, keep it that way, no matter how tempting it might be to tell someone else, especially if you have friends in common. Being a good listener means being trustworthy and sensitive with shared information.

Whatever is told to you in confidence is not to be revealed. Assure your speaker that their information is safe with you. They will feel relieved that they have someone with whom they can share their burden without fear of it getting out.

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Keeping someone’s confidence helps to deepen your relationship. Also, “one of the most important elements of confidentiality is that it helps to build and develop trust. It potentially allows for the free flow of information between the client and worker and acknowledges that a client’s personal life and all the issues and problems that they have belong to them.”[4]

Be like a therapist: listen and withhold judgment.

NOTE: I must add here that while therapists keep everything in a session confidential, there are exceptions:

  1. If the client may be an immediate danger to himself or others.
  2. If the client is endangering a population that cannot protect itself, such as in the case of a child or elder abuse.

8. Maintain Eye Contact

When someone is talking, they are usually saying something they consider meaningful. They don’t want their listener reading a text, looking at their fingernails, or bending down to pet a pooch on the street. A speaker wants all eyes on them. It lets them know that what they’re saying has value.

Eye contact is very powerful. It can relay many things without anything being said. Currently, it’s more important than ever with the Covid-19 Pandemic. People can’t see your whole face, but they can definitely read your eyes.

By eye contact, I don’t mean a hard, creepy stare—just a gaze in the speaker’s direction will do. Make it a point the next time you’re in a conversation to maintain eye contact with your speaker. Avoid the temptation to look anywhere but at their face. I know it’s not easy, especially if you’re not interested in what they’re talking about. But as I said, you can redirect the conversation in a different direction or just let the person know you’ve got to get going.

Final Thoughts

Listening attentively will add to your connection with anyone in your life. Now, more than ever, when people are so disconnected due to smartphones and social media, listening skills are critical.

You can build better, more honest, and deeper relationships by simply being there, paying attention, and asking questions that make the speaker feel like what they have to say matters.

And isn’t that a great goal? To make people feel as if they matter? So, go out and start honing those listening skills. You’ve got two great ears. Now use them!

More Tips on How to Be a Better Listener

Featured photo credit: Joshua Rodriguez via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Skills You Need: Active Listening
[2] Filtered: Body language for active listening
[3] Forbes: People Will Like You More If You Start Asking Follow-up Questions
[4] TAFE NSW Sydney eLearning Moodle: Confidentiality

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