07/14/2014 02:32 pm ET Updated Sep 13, 2014

Self-Acceptance and Self-Respect

In order to fulfill our potential, develop healthy relationships, and gain respect of everyone around us, we have to consciously develop a strong sense of self-acceptance. The first step of this development is to inculcate self-love within our own realm of understanding; this means we must work on becoming the person we always dreamed of becoming. Once we master this step, we gain a deep sense of accomplishment, happiness, and we create a persona that everyone treats with respect.

The next step of this development involves getting to truly know ourselves. This is the stage of practicing 'living consciously'. The more we understand ourselves, the more we become aware of our uniqueness, and eventually end up seeing and appreciating ourselves in a position to be respected. Getting to truly know ourselves involves discovering and examining our principles, personalities, skills and special talents. During this process, it is essential not to get thwarted by looking for someone else's approval based on their standards, we must develop and meet our own standards. No matter how long it takes to complete this exciting development of self-discovery, we will realize that it was completely worthwhile. This step is essential to not only know who we really are, but also to recognize the roadblocks which are keeping us from moving forward towards living a truly happy life.

To build self-respect and overcome low self-esteem it is essential to change how we feel emotionally about ourselves. To change our emotions requires changing two different core beliefs about our self-image. The first core belief that hinders self-acceptance is the false belief that we are not good enough. The second core belief which is also false is that we are not who we should be. We can have self-love and self-respect if we know that we are good enough to do what we are meant to do. We can in any moment decide who we want to be and take action. If we choose to be more loving, we can start with loving-kindness for ourselves.

Having respect for others is not possible without having respect for ourselves. By respect, I don't mean being impressed by our own titles, status, position, or appearance. I mean honoring our inner divine being. We must first love and respect ourselves before we can truly give love and respect to others.

The beauty of self-acceptance and self-forgiveness as the basis of a loving life is that such acceptance keeps us from harming ourselves or others. Being grateful, valuing who we are even with all our mistakes and flaws establishes the foundation upon which we can be grateful for others in our lives. One way we can practice being grateful for ourselves is to look in the mirror and think about something we like about ourselves or that we have done well recently. Besides learning to accept ourselves unconditionally we also need to be comfortable in our own skin and to learn to love and accept the person who we are. This doesn't mean we have to think that we are flawless, rather we have learned to embrace ourselves with flaws and all.

Self-Acceptance is an endless journey of self-discovery. Keep saying 'yes' to who you really are, and you will live your best life!