The path to self-acceptance, resilience and happiness

This blog was written by University of Bristol Student Counsellor, Natalie Read. Natalie has been a counsellor for 14 years, working both at the University and in private practice. She’s worked with students and non-students of all ages, backgrounds, nationalities, all with different reasons for seeking support.

The importance of self-acceptance, resilience and happiness

We all strive for happiness but aren’t always successful in achieving this. If we’ve experienced hurt, rejection, failure and other similarly painful situations, we may naturally try to avoid these in future. This can lead to strategies such as overworking, pleasing others, perfectionism and other unhelpful coping strategies. Whilst well intended, these strategies are ineffective in the long-run and come with unhelpful side effects. Trying to be somebody we’re not or trying to control life is like trying to be superhuman.

Instead, working towards self-acceptance and acknowledging your humanness offers a happier and healthier path with greater odds of success. Self-acceptance is learning to understand yourself, your feelings and accepting that every human being has strengths and areas of development. You’re more likely to practice self-care, have self-compassion, give yourself opportunities for success and radiate a confidence which is magnetic to others. This helps you feel more optimistic about the future, improve relationships and, build resilience to overcome difficulties.

Student walking and smiling

My top five tips for achieving self-acceptance, resilience and happiness:

  • Go with the flow of life – like the weather, life naturally has ups and downs. Judging yourself or avoiding what you’re facing adds layers of difficulty on top. By acknowledging challenges are part of life and happen to everyone, you give yourself less of a hard time and navigate them more easily.
  • Build self-reflection – noticing your levels of energy, stress, productivity and happiness can help you respond rather than react to situations and make happier choices.
  • Understand feelings come and go – we interrupt this process with good intentions i.e. trying not to feel them or by judging them – what’s wrong with me, how long will this last? Acknowledging that feelings are a natural part of being human and finding an outlet for them can help.
  • Develop self-compassion – work on self-acceptance, a kinder inner voice and measure yourself by your effort and intention rather than the outcome.
  • Build resilience – identify any hidden blessings behind challenges- how you developed or strengthened something in yourself, moved onto a new path or attracted new people into your life. This helps you realise you are stronger than you think and prepare for what could help next time.

Student talking at the Harbourside

My advice for students who may be struggling during these uncertain times

Know that you are not alone at finding things difficult – this is a common misconception that comes up in counselling. Despite appearances, no human being is immune to facing struggles or difficult emotions. Opening up to someone you trust can help you to feel not alone and also helps them by giving them permission to do the same. Alternatively seek support from Wellbeing Access who will direct you to the most appropriate person who can help.

Being Human – the path to self-acceptance, resilience and happiness by Natalie Read is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo and all major retailer websites.

24/7 wellbeing services available for those in need of support

In these strange and uncertain times, it’s understandable that many of you will be feeling anxious, sad or even a little bit scared, which can be tough to say out loud. Don’t forget that there are many support services out there for you, with some offering a listening ear 24/7. 


TalkCampus is here if you need someone to talk to, about anything, anywhere, at anytime. The app enables you to message fellow students from all over the world, day and night. You can share your worries and thoughts with those going through the exact same struggles as you. 

This is a safe place where you can talk anonymously and get support for your mental health and whatever is on your mind. 

Download TalkCampus for free today using your University email address and make things a little bit easier. 

Alongside the app, TalkCampus have added 18 self-guide meditations for you on their Soundcloud, with a blog to supplement them. 

Big White Wall 

People come to Big White Wall for support with a range of mental health and wellbeing issues – from anxiety, depression, stress, to lifestyle changes and relationships problems. This digital support and recovery service provides an anonymous online community for you to share your thoughts and feelings with others who may share the same troubles.  

This safe space is monitored by trained professionals who are available 24/7. There are also lots of resources and learning activities available to help you deal with a variety of difficulties and challenges. 

Use Big White Wall today and receive support from an online community day and night. 

Shout Crisis Messenger 

Shout is a UK text service for anyone who needs to talk. It’s a place to go if you’re struggling to cope and you need immediate help. The service is available 24/7, with a team of volunteers helping those in need to go from crisis to calm. 

Text Bristol to 85258 to be connected to a trained volunteer. 

If you feel you need further support than what is offered above, head over to the Wellbeing pages to find further resources and services.