So many of us struggle with realizing that we’re more than good enough—just as we are. Self-acceptance can be hard to achieve, but taking the journey to acknowledging who we are can be healing and life-changing.
If you struggle with self-acceptance, you’re not alone. It can be a constant battle to recognize that you don’t have to live a certain type of life, have a particular job, or have a partner that matches unrealistic criteria to be happy.
Here are five tips you should explore to help you better accept and love yourself.
1. Embrace Your Strengths
One of the main reasons people, women in particular, struggle with self-acceptance is because we only see our flaws, failures, and missed opportunities. This can come in many forms, from physical insecurities to lack of confidence in social or work settings.
Making a list of what’s great about who you are can be a helpful way to help focus on your strengths and improve your self-confidence.
Writing down things like, “I always go out of my way to be helpful”, “I’m a good friend”, or even “I’m a good boss” or “I have great legs” are small ways to help you realize the good inside of yourself.
If you find this exercise hard, think about trials you’ve overcome. Remember that bad breakup, the time you didn’t get the job you wanted, or that time you were really stressed about passing a class? What did you learn? How did you come out a better person, no matter the outcome? Think about the attributes inside of you that helped you persevere and jot them down.
2. Rethink Your Social Groups
Who you surround yourself with reflects back on how you view yourself. If you’re struggling to love and accept yourself, it’s important to take a look at the company you keep.
Are your friends supportive, nurturing, and fun to be around? Or are you constantly bickering, criticizing one another, and talking bad about one another.
Cutting negative people out of your life can do wonders for your self-esteem. You don’t even have to cut ties completely — simply start spending more time with yourself and those that lift you up and make fewer plans with those who tear you down.
This goes for relationships, too. If your spouse loves you for how you are now, regardless of weight fluctuations, financial stress, or your busy schedule, you are probably in a supportive relationship. But if they are constantly nagging, guilt-tripping you, or comparing you to others, it might be time to rethink your relationship.
3. Question Your Negative Thoughts
We’re all our own worst critics, but some of us really take our negative thoughts as gospel. It’s important to determine when a criticism is constructive and when it is just harmful.
For instance, thinking, “I didn’t do as well as I could on that presentation. Next time, I’ll take it more seriously” is a constructive criticism that will help you grow as a person. It shows you know your own potential and don’t let yourself off the hook when you phone things in.
Other criticisms like “That girl is so much prettier than you. My boyfriend is going to realize how ugly I am and leave me” or “I don’t know why I say anything at all…I’m not smart or funny” are not only harmful criticisms, they’re likely not even true.
Our brains tend to exaggerate reality when we’re stressed, anxious, or embarrassed, lingering on everything that went wrong or an imperfection we can’t fix, when in reality, others likely don’t even notice the details we focus so heavily on.
Think to yourself, “Would I say this about my best friend?” If you wouldn’t, chances are, it’s because it’s not true and not a helpful comment. Remember, you’re only human, so try loving and supporting yourself when you slip and move on.
4. Practice Self Love
Loving yourself isn’t a skill that’s going to develop overnight. In fact, for many women, it may seem unnatural and weird at first. That’s okay — learning to love and accept yourself requires practice.
When you mess up or feel yourself spiraling into a negative mindset, practice saying encouraging things to yourself, as if you were one of your friends. Even if you don’t mean what you’re saying at first, eventually, these positive thoughts will sink in.
Remind yourself that it’s good to take time for yourself when you’re burnt out and it’s okay to fail and still smile, focusing on the effort it took to try to achieve something instead.
You might not feel better at first, but training your mind to look towards the positive rewards earned, rather than focusing on the negative experiences will help keep your determined, positive, and confident in your own resilience.
5. Admit Your Mistakes
There’s a huge difference between self-love and not owning up to your own bad qualities or decisions. Trying to avoid responsibility for a bad choice by telling yourself you’re too good to apologize is not okay and won’t help you grow.
If you hurt someone, don’t just apologize, really own up to your mistake. Think about why you said or did something hurtful and work on correcting that behavior. The same goes for mistakes at work or school.
Loving yourself doesn’t mean you get off the hook for bad behavior. It means you love yourself enough to teach yourself to do better, improve on your faults, and still remain positive.
Use these five tips to help you learn more about yourself, improve your bad behaviors, and learn to love yourself unconditionally.