Accepting yourself completely for who you are, flaws and all, has to be among the hardest things to achieve. Why? Because I’m sure we all have things we’d like to change about ourselves. Maybe we want to be prettier, or more confident, or smarter, or thinner, or more successful. We look at people who have these things and feel like we’re coming up short.
I’m definitely guilty of doing this and have been trying to make a real effort to bring more self-love into my life and I’ve found that the benefits are well worth the effort. To have a sense of peace with who you are means you can stop struggling to be someone else and celebrate yourself for your wonderful uniqueness.
1) Be yourself
Have you met anyone who is unashamedly, unapologetically themselves? I’ve definitely met a few and the thing they all have in common is a deep rooted acceptance for who they are. They know themselves, accept themselves, and don’t need to pretend to be anyone else. What a wonderful quality to have! People like this, I find, are a joy to be around. They’re authentic and inspiring and you can’t help but love them.
My dad has a good friend who fits this description. He’s a maths teacher, a self-proclaimed nerd, a computer geek, very skinny, and without a doubt one of the coolest people I’ve met. Why? Because he’s completely comfortable with who he is and so he just oozes coolness.
2) Stop comparing yourself to other people
I still haven’t figured this one out myself but it doesn’t stop me from constantly working at it. Comparing yourself to other people, I’ve found, is one of the simplest and most toxic ways to damage your self-confidence.
Chances are, there will be lots of people who you look up to and feel inferior to but I think the trick is to admire other people’s talents, recognise your own, and not feel like you have to be the same as other people. Celebrate your wonderful uniqueness and avoid comparing it to the wonderful uniqueness of other people.
3) Find role models to inspire you
The wonderful alternative to comparing yourself to others, is to be inspired by them. I’m always looking for new role models: friends, family, fictional characters…you can find them anywhere you look!
I find that having role models to inspire you helps inspire you to become a better person and this makes self-acceptance a whole lot easier.
4) What’s inside matters more
I really do think that beauty has a lot to do with what you’re like inside. Have you ever met those people who are stunningly beautiful only to realise, once they make a mean comment or bitchy remark, that they are a lot uglier inside? Suddenly they don’t seem so beautiful. Equally, there are those people who aren’t much to look at but who possess such wonderful qualities that you can’t help but find them attractive.
This goes to show, I think, that beauty is as much about what you possess inside as it is about how you look on the outside. So buy a new outfit, get a haircut, slim down, but don’t think you’ll automatically reach self-acceptance without some inner work too.
5) Never stop improving yourself
Self-acceptance doesn’t mean that you have to stop trying to improve yourself. I read countless self-help books, watch documentaries and videos, and take any advice that people are willing to give me and I compile it all to help me work out which parts of myself need some work.
Maybe it’s my fear of public speaking, or my tendency to compare myself to other people, or the fact that I’m too much of a perfectionist. I always like to try and tackle my weaknesses but I think the trick is to do so while continuing to love yourself despite and because of your imperfections.
6) You have nothing to prove
Whenever I catch myself feeling insecure or worrying about who I am, I remind myself of a brilliant thing a family friend said: “You’ve got nothing to prove.” By this, she meant that you don’t have to live up to anyone else’s standards. For her, this meant not feeling like she had to participate in her family’s thrill seeking activities.
While on holiday, her family and the friends they had staying with them, decided to go skydiving. At first, feeling like she had to prove herself, she convinced herself to join in despite hating heights and finding no pleasure from the prospect of dangling from a parachute.
Then, it hit her suddenly that the only reason she was considering taking part was to prove herself and that didn’t seem like a good enough reason. So she she politely declined, found a nice cafe to sit in and watched the skydivers float past with a glass of wine in her hand. Self-acceptance in action!
7) Embrace your imperfections
It’s so tempting to want to be perfect. I admit to being a bit of a perfectionist and I sometimes find it unbearable how utterly human I am. A counselor I had a few sessions with during university picked up on the fact that I held myself to very high standards and said that we as people need to embrace our humanness. The fact that we sweat and fidget and get nervous and make a fool of ourselves are all just part of the rich fabric of being a human being.
According to Anne Lamott, an American novelist, political activist and public speaker, ‘Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life’. All the more reason to embrace our imperfections!
8) Love yourself unconditionally
I was really moved when reading a passage of the book ‘Secrets About Life Every Woman Should Know’ by Barbara De Angeles. She explains that: “the trick is to love ourselves unconditionally. This means not just loving yourself when you’re successful and in a good relationship. You need to love yourself when you’re frightened and confused and needy.”
What a lovely idea. That you must love yourself in your darkest moments as well as your brightest ones. De Angeles emphasises that you must talk to yourself as though you are talking to someone you love. You must learn to become your own beloved.
9) Ask for reassurance
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with needing reassurance every now and again. We’re all human after all. We all get moments of insecurity when we doubt ourselves and need someone to tell us that we’re okay. I often worry about not having enough friends and all I need to do is go to my boyfriend and he reminds me that I do have friends and I feel a whole lot better. Sometimes you just need someone to remind you how great you are to believe it yourself, and that’s okay!
10) Remember who loves you
If ever you’re in doubt about how great you are, remind yourself of all the people in your life who love you just as you are: your partner, friends, family, work colleagues…to name a few. Knowing that these people have found a way to love and accept you despite your imperfections will help you to find a way to love and accept yourself too.
11) Write a list of things you love about yourself
In those moments when you’re really struggling to put self-acceptance in practice, it can really help to make a list of things you love about yourself. It can be anything really: your smile, your ability to make people laugh, the fact that you’re organised, the love you have for your family. List them all out and then keep the list tucked away somewhere so that you can read back over it when you need a reminder to love yourself more.
12) Be mindful of the voice in your head
I think that one of the biggest things that sabotages us in our attempts to practice self-acceptance, is that little critical voice in our head that is constantly putting us down and stripping us of our self-confidence. Susan Jeffers, one of my all time favourite self-help authors, calls this little voice the chatterbox. The aim, she says, is to learn to drown out the constant negativity from your chatterbox with positive thoughts.
A great way to replace your negative self-talk with empowering self-love is to use affirmations. I write in my gratitude journal every morning and evening (The Five Minute Journal) and there’s a section where you have to write an affirmation for the day ahead. Whenever you catch the negative voice at it again, replace it with your affirmation and you’ll have a much stronger chance of reaching that all important goal of self-acceptance.
– Tiger Lily –