Self Acceptance Therapy: Embracing Your True Self
I read Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman at a perfect time in my life. I had not read any reviews or kept up with the fact it would soon be a movie. So, I was pleasantly surprised at how close it felt to my own evolution as a person and quite honestly as a lesbian. If you haven’t had the opportunity to read the book or see the movie, here is the spark notes version.
It takes place in 1980s Italy. Elio is a 17-year-old who spends his days with his family in their villa. They host exchange students each summer, which is how Elio and Oliver meet and form a beautiful relationship.
A quote I really enjoyed sums up the plot perfectly. “Amid the sun-drenched splendor of their surroundings, Elio and Oliver discover the heady beauty of awakening desire over the course of a summer that will alter their lives forever.”
Similarly, as a tween, I was discovering my sexuality and values in rural, conservative, religious Georgia, and while it is an experience that I am thankful for, I would not wish it on anyone. It was lonely and anxiety-provoking. There was a lot of shame and a lot of praying to the God I worshipped at the time to remove the very thing that made me myself.
Now, as someone who is completely “out” – it is like a million pounds were lifted off my shoulders and my heart. Living out my truth is beautiful, raw, vulnerable, and frightening. I have lost people, but I have gained a community that I hand-picked and that loves my future wife and me unconditionally.
At the end of “Call Me By Your Name”, Elio has a moment with his father that touched my heart. His dad said, “We may never speak about this again. But I hope you’ll never hold it against me that we did. I will have been a terrible father if, one day, you’d want to speak to me and felt that the door was shut or not sufficiently open.” This quote brought me to tears because it was such a beautiful way to say I love you, I accept you, and I am here for you.
As a therapist who identifies as a lesbian, I want to create a similar environment for my clients who may be struggling with family acceptance, self-acceptance, or identifying who they are and where they fit in this world.
Self-Acceptance: The Foundation of Our Well-Being
Self-acceptance is vital for our mental health and overall well-being, especially in the LGBTQ community. It’s about embracing every aspect of ourselves—our feelings, experiences, and personality traits.
According to Kristin Neff, a pioneer in self-compassion research, embracing unconditional self-acceptance is key to better mental health, helping us navigate difficult emotions and situations with more resilience.
Self-Acceptance Therapy, blending mindfulness and radical self-acceptance practices, is particularly beneficial for the LGBTQ community. It addresses negative self-talk and beliefs, using techniques like meditation to foster emotional intelligence and a sense of common humanity.
This therapy isn’t just about recognizing our positive qualities; it’s also about accepting our negative aspects, and understanding that experiencing challenging emotions or situations is part of the universal human experience.
This approach offers a pathway to a more authentic and peaceful life, reminding us that self-acceptance is a journey worth embarking on, no matter the challenges we face.
Embracing Self-Acceptance in the LGBTQ Community
In the LGBTQ community, self-acceptance is a unique journey of embracing both positive and negative emotions. This path is about more than acknowledging traits and feelings; it’s a transformative process of self-discovery.
For many LGBTQ individuals, this journey intertwines with experiences of coming out and confronting societal norms. It’s a deeply personal path, varying in challenges and victories. As Kristin Neff wisely notes, treating oneself with the same compassion as we would treat loved ones is essential.
Self-compassion, particularly through practices like mindfulness meditation, plays a crucial role. Research in Behaviour Research and Therapy highlights how self-compassion practices lead to better mental health, especially during tough times. Patience is key, as acceptance is a gradual, evolving process.
This journey, filled with challenges and triumphs, paves the way for true self-acceptance and psychological health. As we move forward, we’ll explore how overcoming both external and internal barriers is crucial in this transformative journey.
Overcoming External and Internal Barriers in the LGBTQ Community
Having explored the journey of self-acceptance, we now shift our focus to overcoming the barriers that often impede this process for LGBTQ individuals. This journey involves navigating both external societal pressures and internal personal challenges.
Addressing External Barriers
- Societal Norms and Discrimination: LGBTQ individuals often confront societal norms that may not align with their identity and experiences. This misalignment can lead to discrimination and marginalization, as well as various mental health conditions.
- Lack of Support: Support from family, friends, and the community plays a crucial role in the self-acceptance journey. The absence of this support, especially during difficult situations, can be a significant barrier. Research in psychological science has shown that social support is pivotal in reducing stress and improving overall psychological well-being.
- Institutional Barriers: Legal and institutional challenges, such as the lack of protective laws or workplace discrimination, add another layer of external barriers. Advocacy and policy changes are essential in addressing these issues.
Tackling Internal Barriers
- Internalized Homophobia: This refers to the internalization of negative societal attitudes towards homosexuality. It can lead to self-doubt and a negative self-view. Overcoming this requires recognizing these internalized negative beliefs and actively working against them.
- Self-Doubt and Fear of Rejection: These painful feelings are common and can hinder the journey to self-acceptance. As Neff K. articulates, “Being kind to oneself is not a sign of weakness but a sign of strength.”
- Negative Self-Talk: This barrier often stems from both external and internal sources. Challenging and transforming negative self-talk into more positive, affirming narratives is key to overcoming this hurdle.
Strategies for Overcoming Barriers
- Positive Affirmations: Regularly practicing affirmations can reinforce positive self-beliefs and counteract negative thoughts.
- Mindfulness Meditation: Engaging in mindfulness practices helps in staying grounded in the present moment, reducing the impact of negative thoughts and feelings.
- Seeking Support: Engaging with supportive people, whether through community groups or therapy sessions, provides a network of understanding and empathy.
Overcoming these barriers is a crucial step in the journey to self-acceptance. It requires courage, perseverance, and often, the support of others. As we continue, we will look into the role of therapy in fostering self-acceptance, particularly focusing on how mental health professionals can guide and support this transformative journey.
The Role of Therapy in Self-Acceptance
Following our discussion on overcoming external and internal barriers, it’s crucial to explore the transformative role of therapy in achieving self-acceptance, particularly for the LGBTQ community. Therapy offers a structured, supportive environment for addressing the challenges discussed previously.
The Impact of Self-Acceptance Therapy
Self-Acceptance Therapy is a tailored approach that combines aspects of mindfulness, meditation, and unconditional self-acceptance. It helps individuals confront negative emotions and beliefs, transforming them into positive experiences. Our therapists at Counseling Associates for Well-Being work closely with clients, guiding them through their unique journey toward true self-acceptance.
Diverse Therapeutic Approaches for LGBTQ Individuals
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT is effective in addressing negative self-talk and beliefs, transforming thought patterns to foster a healthier mindset.
- Narrative Therapy: This therapy allows individuals to reframe their life stories, empowering them to see themselves as more than their challenges and struggles.
- Mindfulness-Based Therapies: Techniques like mindfulness meditation and loving-kindness meditation promote emotional intelligence and a deeper understanding of one’s thoughts and feelings.
The Importance of LGBTQ-Affirmative Therapy
Finding an LGBTQ-affirmative therapist is vital. Such therapists provide a safe, non-judgmental space where individuals can explore their identity and experiences without fear of bias or misunderstanding. They understand the specific challenges faced by the LGBTQ community and offer tailored support.
We invite you to get in touch with us for support in your self-acceptance journey. Our team of mental health professionals is committed to providing empathetic, informed, and affirmative care. Whether you’re dealing with negative feelings, difficult life events, or seeking a deeper understanding of your true self, we’re here to help. Therapy sessions, whether in-person or online, offer a supportive space to work through the complexities of your experiences and emotions.
Remember, seeking therapy is a sign of strength and a step towards a healthier, more fulfilled life. Join us in this journey of self-acceptance and psychological well-being.
Contact me at [email protected].
Offering Services in Athens, East Cobb/Marietta, Smyrna/Vinings, & via telehealth throughout Georgia
[email protected] Please include the name of the staff person and location preference if applicable
Post Update: The article was updated on December 20th, 2023, originally published on June 6th, 2022. It has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.