Learning how to accept yourself is a worthy goal with big benefits.
A little negative self talk may be natural and sometimes useful, but a steady diet of self loathing and put-downs is self abuse. Fortunately, even if you suffer from a long term sense of low self worth and esteem, you can begin shifting to better feeling thoughts and better ways to treat yourself right away.
This seven step process will help you become more loving and compassionate toward yourself. It will help you accept your self in body, mind and spirit.
Even though the process of learning how to accept yourself is listed as steps in a certain order, it is more helpful to approach it as a spiral or a circle with lines inside that connect to different points on the circle. You may revisit steps as often as you like, in whatever order works best for you as you make shifts and root out deeper aspects of low self worth.
Step One: Realize you have a Self and a self.
Your Self is the real you, the authentic you sometimes so hidden and suppressed you don't even know it's inside you. The Self is perfect, maybe divine. Some call it the soul or spirit of a person. This Self is loving, kind, compassionate, supportive, pure, unspoiled. Meditation, contemplation and connecting with nature helps you get in touch with your true Self. The words, "Let your light shine", refer to the Self.
The self is the ego. It can be the loud, critical, spoiled, haughty part of the human psyche. It is the part that gives you an individual identity separate from others, complete with accompanying personality and beliefs. The ego is not bad, it helps you survive and live in the material world. But sometimes it needs taming and a reality check.
Accepting your Self and accepting the egoic self are both important for mental and spiritual well-being.
Step Two: Cultivate awareness of your inner talk.
An important step in learning how to accept yourself is to become aware of how your egoic self perpetuates self loathing and low self esteem. It is also helpful to discern the difference between the ego pumping itself up and the true Self expressing itself.
Awareness is key. Awareness is always part of any healing process.
Step Three: Mind how you approach 'self-improvement'.
Your Self is already perfect, but your body and egoic selves can be improved.
Here is a major mindset shift. Approach making a change from the mindset that you are so worthy that the most loving thing you can do for yourself is make upgrades in your best interest. That is very different than approaching change from the mindset of fixing something because you loathe yourself for it.
Does it really matter if you have a a little cellulite or a few wrinkles? You may not like them, but is it really a reason to wage war on yourself? And what if you did 'make a mess of things'? Will suffering and self-loathing make it right?
Instead, here is how to love and accept yourself, imperfections and all. Send love from your heart to all parts of yourself - mind, body and spirit. Bathe yourself in the energy and light of love. All parts of yourself deserve acceptance.
Making changes in your life because you love and accept your self is empowering and healing. So is deciding to live in harmony with your limitations, flaws and 'less than perfect' attributes that make you who you are.
Step Four: Stop the criticism.
Make a commitment here and now to stop criticizing silently and aloud. Attacking yourself is destructive. It wastes your precious energy and perpetuates a downward spiral into feelings of anxiety, depression, anger and low self-esteem. It keeps you stuck and unhappy.
This step takes a lot of awareness and effort, especially if you tend toward negativity and criticism and are surrounded by people like that. Be patient and forgiving of yourself, and be persistent. It gets easier with practice.
Step Five: Make peace with yourself.
A big part of learning how to accept yourself is being okay with who you are in body, mind and spirit. This is a gift worth giving yourself, as I have learned from experience.
My story: Back in my teens and twenties, I relentlessly and mercilessly attacked myself by reliving an incident and hurling verbal insults at myself for weeks. Usually it was just for saying something silly or the wrong thing will no ill intent.
Even though I didn't know why I treated myself that way or how to stop,I knew it had to stop. It felt like I was driving myself crazy.
What helped was noticing that when other people said silly things, I would find it amusing and forget about it. I did not judge them at all. So why was I being so hard on myself?
I had to teach myself to stop the self attacks and grant myself the same grace. I decided to cut myself the same slack as everyone else. Those words became my mantra.
Finally, after several months of committed practice, my self-berating happened less and less. I was even able to laugh at some of my foibles.
As I learned how to accept myself and handle even my big mistakes with grace, not only did I become happier and more peaceful within, but I became more accepting and compassionate towards others. We are human. We make mistakes and do hurtful things, sometimes even on purpose. Forgive yourself. Make peace with yourself.
Step Six: Practice gratitude.
When you catch yourself criticizing a part of your body or something you did, try this exercise. It will show you how to accept yourself even when you don't:
For example, when you criticize the cellulite on your thighs with disgust and start calling yourself fat and disgusting, STOP. Immediately. Then, thank your thighs for faithfully carrying you around, for bringing you where you need to go, for bearing the weight you put on them without complaining. Tell them, "I love you, thighs, thank you. I'm sorry for criticizing you. Forgive me."
The goal, of course, is to avoid this behavior all together. Shifting to thankful, appreciative words is quite effective at silencing the critic.
Step Seven: Use emotional healing tools.
We are lucky to live in a time when topics like how to accept yourself are important.
Holistic energy healers and mental health professionals have developed a variety of techniques to help you release feelings of self-loathing and negative self talk. Although results vary, these methods are often quite effective. Do sample them.
Knowing how to accept yourself is key to spiritual well-being. When you free yourself of self loathing and criticism as much as possible, you will feel much more at ease and at peace with yourself and others. And that translates into a greater sense of physical and mental health as well.