Off the top of my head, here are some of the things I do to increase self-acceptance, either directly or indirectly.
1. Affirm the things you do well. Writing a list of your positive attributes may seem kind of egotistical, but it can be a useful exercise, and handy to refer to when you are self-downing.
2. Work to achieve serenity about the things you would like to accomplish, but which have obstacles. I’ve worded this pretty carefully, because it’s easier but more self-demanding to say “try not to worry about the things you need to get done but can’t. If circumstances, other people, or factors beyond your control make it difficult to get stuff done, change that goal from a need to a preference and accept that it is beyond your control at this time. Along the same lines ...
3. Make lists of what you have accomplished, not what you “need” to accomplish.
4. Recognize happiness when it is occurring. Step back from whatever situation you are in and realize when you are doing something fun or having a good timeČŘ”rather than always planning for happiness or pining for perceived past happiness. Those perceptions may be romanticized, and the plans for future happiness tend to set us up for failure. Happiness is happening now. Carpe diem, and all that.
5. Avoid awfulizing and making mental demands. Recognize when you are doing this, and snap yourself out of it somehow—particularly if you are generalizing about your character, predicting how you will behave, or being overly sensitive to how you feel others perceive you. Don’t think poisonous thoughts.
6. Use language carefully, especially when you’re emotionally vulnerable. Be accurate about how you describe yourself and your behavior. You are not your behavior.
7. Count your blessings. Yes, grandma was right (of course, she used it to make you feel guilty!). There’s always someone worse off than you, and most of us have much to appreciate. Writing it down can be helpful.
8. Get up and get going, especially when you least want to. Action and movement always improve my mood. “Power yourself from the void” is a wise expression.
9. Work on something fulfilling every day. Having a Vital Creative Absorbing Interest (VCAI) isn’t just the idea of “getting a hobby”—it’s an exercise to get us to change our daily behavior pattern in a way that helps us feel accomplished. The fact that it happens to fill what used to be our drinking time is another aspect of that: people who achieve sobriety usually make lifestyle changes to enhance their commitment.
10. Give and appreciate unconditional love. Children or other family members can be ok for this, but that can be complicated. Dogs, cats, or birds tend to be more unconditional, unless you forget to feed them.
11. Cultivate your sense of humor. Smiling makes you happy, and making other people laugh defuses tension, reduces stress, and improves communication.
12. Create something of lasting beauty. Imbue it with symbolism of your own making. Plant a tree, write a poem, draw a picture, frame a photograph with special memories. Whatever you choose, you can refer to it when you feel emotionally shaky.
I’m sure you can add your own; these are just some things that work for me!