“It’s not your job to like me… it’s mine.” ― Byron Katie
Feelings of worthlessness can create anxieties and hold us back from pursuing the things that bring us joy and peace, and it can affect our relationships with others. Often, we try too hard to meet unrealistic expectations that exist only in our minds. We may feel the need to ‘achieve’ all the time or to look a certain way. In fact, body shame is one of the most common sources for feeling as though we aren’t good enough, and that can lead to poor body image and disordered eating behaviors.
A vicious cycle of these behaviors can then begin as our inner critic yells louder and our internal comparisons to others intensify. And while the act of comparing is our mind’s attempt to decrease feelings of insecurity and anxiety, it only makes them worse. Anyone who struggles with body image issues or disordered eating often compares their body size and shape to others. For some, a smaller body means relief and reassurance. A bigger body means anxiety and disgrace. A muscular body means power and control while, and an imperfect body means weakness. We judge ourselves harshly, further eroding our self-esteem and perpetuating an unhealthy relationship between food, exercise, and our bodies.
So what’s the solution? First and foremost, we are the ones who need to accept ourselves. If we are constantly judging ourselves based on external references, other people, or based on what others think, how will we ever be able to see our self-worth? And if we don’t accept ourselves, how can we expect others to accept us? Fortunately, self-acceptance is something that can be cultivated. This spring, try these five strategies to nurture your self-acceptance:
- Ditch the negativity. Surround yourself with supportive, positive people. Say goodbye to anyone who puts you down and doesn’t encourage you.
- Forgive yourself. You’ve made some mistakes. We all have. Don’t let them drag you down. Instead, accept them, learn from them, and move on. Forgive yourself for all the negative thoughts, memories, and actions. And then, feel the freedom that comes with it.
- Practice affirmations. Changing your perception of yourself and accepting yourself as you are takes time and effort. Say to yourself, “I am a worthwhile person! I believe in myself and in my abilities! People love me and respect me, and nothing can stop me from becoming who I want to be!” Repeat your affirmation several times every day.
- Perform acts of kindness. When you do something for someone in need, it’s hard not to feel good about yourself.
- Remind yourself of your many attributes. Identify your strengths, your best personality traits, and your gifts and talents. Write them down and add to your list each day.
Self-acceptance is the start of something wonderful. You can’t possibly know beforehand how amazing your life can become once you begin to experience a deep love for yourself.