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Why Self-Acceptance matters, and the two different types of Autonomy you need to know about.

Updated: Jun 8, 2021

The concept of "psychological wellbeing" has been explored extensively in positive psychology. Various models which have been developed looking into this topic. One of these models is Ryff's model outlining 6 components of Psychological Wellbeing:

  1. Autonomy (the sense we have control over our lives and our time)

  2. Environmental Mastery (how competent we feel within our environment, how much skill we have and how much we are on top of things)

  3. Personal Growth

  4. Positive Relations with Others

  5. Purpose in Life

  6. Self-Acceptance

Interestingly, and to my initial surprise, my clients and I often spend a whole session on Self-Acceptance. Over the years I've realised that my high achieving clients are actually quite low on self-acceptance. This matters, for our psychological wellbeing, and therefore for our mental health. Some of the self-acceptance questions in this model (which you can find here), which you rate from strongly agree to strongly disagree, include:

  1. When I look at the story of my life, I am pleased with how things have turned out.

  2. In general, I feel confident and positive about myself.

  3. I feel like many of the people I know have gotten more out of life than I have.

  4. I like most aspects of my personality.

  5. In many ways, I feel disappointed about my achievements in my life.

  6. My attitude about myself is probably not as positive as most people feel about themselves.

  7. When I compare myself to friends and acquaintances, it makes me feel good about who I am.

Some questions for you:

  • What went through your mind when you read those questions?

  • On a scale of one (zero self-acceptance) to ten (full self-acceptance), how high do you think your self-acceptance currently is?

  • Given your score, what do you think would help you increase your levels of self-acceptance?

Self-Acceptance is a hugely personal topic, what increase your self-acceptance will be different to others. An activity which works for my clients is to include a simple gratitude practice after delivering a piece of work, such as a speech or presentation. You could do this by jotting down 3 things that went well or 3 pieces of positive feedback you received after the delivery.


I'm going to touch on one other key area within this mode - Autonomy. When it it comes to work and Autonomy, there is an important distinction I want to make: I thought I had a lot of Autonomy in my work when I had flexible work arrangements, but actually one of the reasons I took the leap to go independent was for a different kind of Autonomy. It was about the kind of work I did - I wanted to have more control over the projects that I worked on.

There are different kinds of Autonomy, and one of them does relate to our freedom around logistics in the workplace and also the type of work we choose to do. This distinction does come up in coaching sessions because people often haven't really understood they want both, and both matter to their psychological wellbeing.

What does Autonomy mean to you?

  • How is your current level of autonomy - is it serving you or not

  • Which areas you feel you have good levels of autonomy in?

  • Are there certain areas of life you want more autonomy in?

Let me know - at!


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