Do you ever feel like you are simply never good enough? As a serial perfectionist, I’ve struggled for years with self-acceptance. On the one hand, never settling keeps me striving to continuously better myself. But, as many of you know too well, the thirst for self-improvement is nearly always companioned by a shadow of self-deprecation and self-loathing. There is nearly always that cruel inner voice behind every small triumph, whispering with critical malevolence, making you feel horrible in even the best of circumstances.
Many of us are overly self-critical. A lot of adults, young or old, men or women, struggle with self-acceptance. Something so theoretically simple as loving, forgiving and nurturing yourself eludes so many of us. Why? Because we are taught to be perfect. We are taught to strive for the perfect bodies, the perfect wrinkle-less face, the perfect grades, the perfect house, the perfect lover, the perfect life.
We have made the ultimate goal of living perfection rather than joy and self-fulfillment, which is such a mind-wrecker. Know this: true perfection is impossible. It’s time to accept it. But, to be the happiest, best version of yourself, self-acceptance will make your imperfectly perfect life so much more beautiful. Here are a few tips I’ve learned on my journey to encourage your own self-acceptance:
Accept your successes.
I have the tendency to undervalue the work I’ve done and any progress I’ve made. A lot of people, especially women, I know have this tendency. Yeah, it sounds like I did something awesome, but when you think about it, it really isn’t THAT impressive. Stop belittling your success. Be proud of what you have accomplished and take full credit for it. You deserve to feel proud. Pride in your work is one of the first steps to being comfortable with who you are.
Self-acceptance is not arrogance.
I never want to appear arrogant. I find it a distasteful quality. However, in my quest to avoid arrogance, I sometimes practice so much humility that I become incapable of accepting the compliments and niceties of others. I martyr myself in my humility, boosting others up while pushing myself further and further down. But it’s not doing anyone any favors to dismiss compliments or positivity. We should all accept more positivity into our lives. Allow yourself to receive what you’ve earned and know that you truly deserve it.
Forget about the past.
Many of the self-acceptance issues I have struggled with arise from the ghosts of my past—namely the body dysmorphia I suffered as a professional dancer. Self-acceptance means being content with yourself in the present. Forget about your past. Stop defining your present by the ghosts behind you. You, in this very moment, are enough. You are worthy. Accept yourself as you are, not as you were.
Stop seeking the approval of others.
The only approval that matters, in the end, is your own. In the wise words of Chance the Rapper: “I don’t wanna be cool. I just wanna be me.” Be who you want to be. Stop focusing on what others want. Sure, you can try to please others. But in order to accept yourself, you have to make yourself a priority. Screw what everyone else thinks. As long as you are happy and no one else is being caused any pain, putting yourself first should be something we all strive for.
Spend time alone.
It’s easy to fill your schedule with dinners, drinks, work, family functions, et cetera. But, without some alone time, you are effectively hiding your true self from yourself. Everyone needs alone time to check in with themselves—to see how you feel, to process any new or outdated beliefs, to reassess how you are generally doing as a modern human. By avoiding alone time, you are perpetuating the fear that you are not enough on your own. Know that you are enough. Take yourself out to dinner and enjoy it. Go solo on a movie date. You’ll soon learn that when you’re solo, you’re more awesome than you could ever begin to imagine.
The key to self-acceptance is knowing that you, as you are right now, are enough. Yes, it takes a little bit of courage to begin to truly accept yourself for who you are, but every step brings you a little more self-empowerment, bit by bit. Self-acceptance can be a slow process. With every two steps of gain, it can sometimes feel like you are dragged a step and a half backwards by those mean voices inside your mind. But remember, even if you go backwards, you are still moving forward—steadily, steadily. Keep on, because the journey to you is so worth it.