On the journey toward self-acceptance, identifying one’s strengths and weaknesses is a crucial step. After all, self-acceptance is accepting everything about oneself, positive or negative. So, how can you identify your strengths and weaknesses? Try this.

Get Some Help

First, consider getting some help with this task. Depending on what’s going on in your life right now, clearly looking at your strengths and weaknesses can be hard. Many people are highly critical of their own weaknesses and are blind to their strengths, while others are in denial of their faults. If the thought of examining your own strengths and weaknesses causes anxiety, embark on this journey with help. A good therapist or counselor can help you examine yourself in a safe, supportive atmosphere.

Do a SWOT Analysis

If you are ready to dive in and take a closer look at yourself, start with a SWOT. If you’ve ever taken a business course, you’ll be familiar with SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats). SWOT analyses are typically part of business plans, and look at internal strengths and weaknesses, and external threats and opportunities. To perform one on yourself, simply use one sheet of paper for each category, and start brainstorming. It can help to consider each area of your life separately. Possible categories are career, relationships with family and friends, personal growth/hobbies, and spiritual life.

After you’ve written down everything you can think of, share your results with a trusted friend. Ask for honest — but kind — feedback. Carefully chose who you ask. Make sure you are sharing this exercise with a friend who supports and cares about you. You may be surprised at the strengths and weaknesses that they point out.

The Journey to Self-Acceptance

Once you have your list, the hard part starts. Look it over, and simply sit with the information. Don’t judge, don’t criticize, and don’t make plans to change. Just see how it feels to be as you are, with all your flaws and best qualities laid out in black and white. If you can’t summon that feeling, it’s ok. Instead, pretend you feel self-acceptance. Imagine that you don’t feel a need to fix, or criticize, or change. See if you can get a glimmer of what self-acceptance might feel like.

Now, imagine how you would act if you completely accepted everything about yourself, the good and the bad. Would you wear shorts in summer, despite not liking your legs? Ask for a raise, even though you feel like an imposter at work? Speak up more in meetings because you absolutely know your stuff, thank you very much? Talk to a stranger at a party, even though you might say something silly? Take a yoga class even though you can’t touch your toes?

Whatever you imagine you would do if you fully and completely accept yourself, pick one thing and then do it. It might be scary but give it a try. Then, try the next thing. Over time, acting as if you accept yourself will transform into the real thing.

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