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The Student News Site of Iona University

The Ionian

The Student News Site of Iona University

The Ionian

Self-acceptance is a lived practice, not just a belief

As a college student, you may have a few ideas of who you are: An athlete, a writer, or even an uncommitted student exploring options. These ideas are fluid, ever-changing as you get more exposure to different experiences. Integrating these experiences with your identity is a process that takes time, done in gradual steps. 

Going from “I play soccer” to “I am a soccer player” seems like a miniscule difference but means so much because you are accepting that action is a part of who you are. Every time you think about how an experience affected you, you are also determining if you accept your self-perception after that experience. This process of acceptance occurs over and over throughout our life, continuing in parallel with our self-development. 

Self-acceptance, like self-development, needs an equivalent action for every belief. You cannot believe your current course in life is fine when you find no satisfaction from your daily actions. Living in a state where belief conflicts with action is cognitive dissonance and can pose a serious roadblock to changing your self-perception. 

So how do you make sure your beliefs and actions agree? Active reflection. Take time out of the day to create quiet spaces that allow you to think. You can take a walk, write in a journal, and so on.  

The important part is your focus on evaluating your past actions, how those past actions influence your self-perception, and comparing that current self-perception with who you want to be. I guarantee you that doing this will result in some setbacks, just as it will result in progress. However, self-acceptance is defined by this back-and-forth exchange. Just as your identity changes, so do the aspects of yourself you accept and reject. 

In Letter VI of “Letters from a Stoic”, the Roman philosopher Seneca quotes the Greek philosopher Hecato about self-acceptance and adds commentary: “‘What progress have I made? I am beginning to be my own friend.’ That is progress indeed. Such a person will never be alone, and you may be sure he is a friend of all.” 

You are your greatest friend, for you spend most of your life with yourself. No matter how your identity shifts and where your life takes you, having faith in yourself will give you a lifelong foundation to build upon. That faith comes not just with belief, but active reflection on what you want for yourself. If you can live with yourself, you can thrive with others. 

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Adrian Vazquez
Adrian Vazquez, Assistant News Editor

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