In today’s video, I’m going to offer my answer to the question “What is self-acceptance?” and how this is related to overcoming retroactive jealousy.

Read on or watch below to hear my response to “What is self-acceptance?”

Zachary Stockill: What is self-acceptance? I have kind of a controversial video for you today; at least, I imagine that some of you won’t like it. Some of you will find it somewhat inflammatory or controversial. But again, it serves no one, and it certainly doesn’t serve you, unless I’m very honest about who I am and what I think. So in today’s video, I’m going to share a perspective on self-acceptance that I don’t hear a lot of people talking about that I think is crucial to talk about, and how this is directly related to overcoming retroactive jealousy.

I was on a YouTube live stream, I think it was, I don’t know, a few months ago, sometime. And the topic of self-acceptance came up, the idea that we should accept ourselves for who we are in the moment. And obviously, I am not going to tell you that I think self-acceptance is bad. But there’s an element to self-acceptance that I think is also very important that not a lot of people talk about. And this is a case where I think…

A lot of people have a twisted perspective on self-acceptance. And by adhering to this vision of self-acceptance, they hold themselves back. 

So there’s one school of thought I’ve found on this topic of self-acceptance that says, “No matter where you’re at in life, no matter who you are, no matter what you’re doing, no matter your situation or circumstances in life, you should simply accept it.” Right? “You should simply accept yourself as good, bad, ugly, and all the rest.” You may hear that and think, “Well, what on earth is wrong with that? What the heck is wrong with that? That sounds pretty good. We should all accept ourselves, right?”

Yes, but I think with an important caveat, and the caveat is: self-acceptance should also involve accepting the fact that you either need or want to change. Because some people hear the term self-acceptance, or they promote an idea of self-acceptance, that denies this basic impulse, the basic human impulse, towards personal responsibility, personal development, towards personal growth. There seem to be some people on the internet who choose a victim’s mindset around this idea of self-acceptance. 

Overcoming Retroactive Jealousy and what is self-acceptance

It’s a passive attitude to self-acceptance that basically says, “I am who I am. And I can’t change, right?” You probably heard people say that. Well, maybe who you are isn’t exactly ideal for you. Are you happy being this person? Are you happy acting the way that you’re acting? And I think it’s really important, in this era of greater self-acceptance, to also accept that…

We sometimes either need or want to change, not based on society’s expectations, not based on our Mom’s expectations, or parents or our partner, but our own expectations. 

I don’t think there’s anything wrong if you accept yourself where you’re, but also accept the fact that you either need or want to change, not based on anyone else’s expectations, except for your own. The perfect example nowadays, that again, a lot of people won’t like: there are a lot of truly unhealthy people in the modern Western world today. Many people who have heart conditions and who are really, really overweight. This is not about fat shaming. It’s not about saying that anyone’s a bad person, or people are weak, or anything like that. But I think there should be some recognition of the fact that this person has a serious health problem, not for anyone else, but for themselves. 

And I say this as an overweight person. I’ve had to work on keeping my weight down for my entire life. I know this issue personally. And some people came to me when I was bigger than I am now. They said, “You should just accept yourself, Zach. Just accept yourself. I know you want to go to the gym, and you want to eat better on this stuff, but you should accept yourself, you should have selflove.” And of course, I do have self-love. That is why I’m not going to accept where I am right now. I’m not going to accept the fact that I’m overweight and do nothing to change it.

I not only wanted to change, I actually needed to change.

I realized that I had a problem that was only going to grow into a much, much, much bigger problem in the future, no pun intended. I accepted myself, but I accepted myself with a realistic, sober view of myself. I didn’t have any illusions about where I was. I accepted that I not only wanted to change, I actually needed to change. 

By the way, I have encountered this idea or this perspective on self-acceptance, even when it comes to things like obsessive or even retroactive jealousy.

I have encountered this from a few people who say, “Well, I’m just a jealous person. That’s who I am right? I need to accept myself. That’s who I am.” So I ask: how’s that working out for you? How are you feeling? Really? Is that working out well? Are you happy and excited about the future, and is your partner deliriously happy in your relationship? And everything’s great? Because I have a feeling the answer is no.

And personally, whatever decisions you make about your life are 100% yours. I am not trying to influence you in any way, in terms of inspiring you to make all kinds of drastic changes to your life. I’m a libertarian, I’m big on personal responsibility, personal accountability, self-accountability. As long as you don’t hurt me, you can do whatever you want. I’m all for freedom, individual freedom. But I do think:

If you care about yourself, it’s worthwhile to accept the fact that you need or want to make certain changes.

Because I’ve met some pretty older people in life, people in their 70s, 80s, 90s. And I’ve always really enjoyed hanging around older people. I used to volunteer in a nursing home, and I have some friends who are genuine friends who are much, much older than me. And I noticed trends among older people. There are the people who are really excited about the future, even though they’re in their advanced years. They’re open to change, open to learning, they still have goals, they still have ambitions, they’re still kind of a “work in progress.” They’re still excited about their lives. Not only that, but they’re open-minded, they’re still curious and adventurous and all the rest. It’s really inspiring.

On the other hand, I’ve met a few elderly, shall we say, people who are like, “No, I am who I am. And that’s it. I need to accept myself, all my demons, all my flaws. I am who I am. I’ve been this way for 50 years. And that’s it, I am who I am.” Take a guess which category of people I’d rather hang out with. Take a guess which category of people most people would rather hang out with. 

It’s the people who accept themselves, but they also accept that they either need or want to grow and change in certain ways.

Because frankly, I don’t see a viable alternative if you want to live a great life, if you want to build a great relationship, other than accepting yourself but also accepting the need or want to change. Now, accepting the want to change is sometimes easier than accepting the need for change. Again, it depends on the situation. It depends on the circumstances. 

But personally, with retroactive jealousy, I remember there was a point where I definitely wanted to change. I wanted to save my relationship. I wanted to be a better boyfriend. I wanted to be a better man, and I wanted to stop acting the way I was acting. But there were a few interactions with my then-girlfriend that really hit home the fact that “No, I need to change.” 

It was time to get serious. It was time to hunker down, it was time to ask myself some difficult questions. And, it was time to be honest with me about the fact that I actually needed to change. So my advice if you’re struggling with change in any area of your life, or you’re feeling an impulse to grow or advance in certain ways…

If you’re feeling the want to change, that’s great. Focus on that and pursue that, and accept your own want and desire for change. Take the necessary steps to change before it gets to the point where you realize “No, I need to change.”

Because unfortunately, sometimes when you realize you need to change, it’s a little too late.

Zachary Stockill
Zachary Stockill

Hi! I'm a Canadian author and educator whose work has been featured in BBC News, BBC Radio 4, The Huffington Post, and many other publications. I'm the founder of, the author of Overcoming Retroactive Jealousy and The Overcoming Jealousy Workbook, and the host of Humans in Love podcast.