Good self-esteem requires you to accept and value all aspects of yourself. This means the bad stuff too! A big part of that is committing to a sense of acceptance of judgment and moving away from a place of blame.
The first thing to do is to accept how you think about yourself.
Examine your strength and positive attributes. Looking at these first will help you accept the parts of yourself that you like less. In fact, as you look at your strengths you will change how you view yourself overall. To help you get into this habit, start by listing just one a day. If you are loving and caring parent, that’s one. If you have an affinity for art, that’s two, and you can go on from there!
Next, make a list of your achievements. This will help you pinpoint your strengths. Put some thought into it as you think about the people you may have helped as well as your accomplishments. Remember that just getting through some difficult days are a grand achievement of their own!
Look at how you are judging yourself. Are you being overly critical, especially when it’s something you can’t control? Does your inner critic blame you instead of being constructive? You may want to try writing down some of the things you say to yourself and see if there is anything specific or if you are just blaming yourself for things beyond your control?
How does the opinion of others make you feel? If someone criticizes you, either constructively or negatively, how do you accept it? Does the comment cause you to internalize the judgment leading you to rethink how you see yourself?
Stop negative thoughts from developing
When you have identified the area in your life where you are hypercritical, you can take care to stop the thoughts from appearing by redirect that negativity. If you do not like your appearance, instead of focusing on how you don’t measure up, find something that makes you happy in that situation. If that doesn’t work, ask yourself if you would say what you are saying to yourself to a friend or loved one. If you wouldn’t talk to anyone else that way, why are you are tolerating it from yourself?
Turn it around
If you find yourself being negative, actively turn it around. Keep some of your strengths in mind to stave off negativity. Any time you find yourself falling into a critical spiral, counter attack by reminding yourself of what you can do well. Remember perfection is not a requirement for happiness.
Remember that you have to accept yourself before you can improve
Accepting yourself means loving who you are right now, not five pounds from now or not after you get a new job. You may have areas where you want to see improvement, but first value yourself as you are now. A good example is wanting to lose weight. If you start with a litany of cosmetic improvements that you will see if you lose 10 pounds, you may just open a can of worms that can lead you to finding other things that you do not like. You can avoid this by focusing on the health benefits of losing weight.
Avoid unrealistic goals. If you ask too much of yourself, you will set yourself up to fail. Remember that you can only do so much. Instead of saying that you are going to clean the entire house, focus on one thing.
Be good to yourself
Remind yourself that you are worthy of care and compassion. It seems strange that you would have to be reminded of this, but we are our own worst critics. Having compassion for yourself may seem selfish, but it is key to your self acceptance. Validate yourself.
Daily Affirmations are important
Something as simple is a short, positive statement can do wonders for keeping you focused on your path to self acceptance. This will help you create some compassion for yourself and help you have more compassion for others. A few examples are:
I am not perfect. It’s okay.
I am helpful and caring.
I am worthy of care and compassion.
When you forgive yourself, you can get rid of long seated feelings of guilt. This guilt can keep you from enjoying your life and appreciating the present.
Remember that you can’t control everything and that the guilt you are caring around is skewed by your perspective of the past. A good step towards forgiving yourself is to write a letter to your younger self acknowledging your mistakes and forgiving them.
A part of moving forward is learning from past mistakes. Look at the lessons you have learned and be thankful for your present. Don’t let guilt or shame hold you back. Whenever you start to have a guilt thought, turn it around to be a thought of gratitude. You can lose without losing the lesson.
Your support system
Surround yourself with people who support and appreciate you. If you are around people who positively believe in you, you will be forced to believe in yourself. People who already love and accept you for who you are will help keep you focused.
At last, boundaries
Ensure your self-acceptance journey by creating and enforcing strong boundaries. You do not have to be around people who are negative and critical. You do not have to associate with anyone who is not supportive. You are perfectly within your rights to speak up for yourself.