Learn to Accept Yourself

Self-acceptance is the ability to unconditionally value all parts of yourself. This means that you value the good parts as well as the parts that you think need improvement. [1] The process of self-acceptance starts with acknowledging judgements against yourself and softening those judgments, so that every part of yourself can be valued.[1] Additionally, it is important to commit yourself to shifting your focus from judgement and blame to tolerance and compassion.[2]


Acknowledging How You Think About Yourself

  1. Acknowledge your strengths and attributes. Acknowledging your strengths, or attributes you value, in order to help give balance to the work you will do on accepting the parts of yourself that are less valued. Additionally, realizing your strengths may help change your conceptualizations about yourself.[2] Start by listing your strengths, or list one strength per day if it is challenging to think of them. For example:
    • I am a loving person.
    • I am a strong mother.
    • I am a talented painter.
    • I am a creative problem solver.
  2. Make a list of your accomplishments. Identify and acknowledge your strengths by making a list of your accomplishments. These might include people you have helped, your personal achievements, or troublesome times you have overcome.[2] These types of examples can help place your focus on actions or deeds. More concrete examples will help you identify your strengths. For example:
    • My father’s death was hard on our family, but I am proud that I was able to help support my mother through the hardship.
    • I made a goal to run a half-marathon, and after 6 months of training, I crossed the finish line!
    • After losing my job, it was difficult to adjust and to pay the bills, but I learned a great deal about my own strength and I am in a better place now.
  3. Recognize how you judge yourself. Recognizing your own judgment is important in helping you identify areas where you are overly critical of yourself.[2] Being overly critical is when you create areas or find attributes of yourself that you have unproductive feelings about. These might include shame or disappointment, and these feelings can squash self-acceptance. Start by writing a list of negative thoughts you might have about yourself. For example:
    • I’ll never be able to do anything right.
    • I’m always taking others’ comments the wrong way; something must be wrong with me.
    • I’m too fat.
    • I’m horrible at making decisions.
  4. Recognize how other people’s comments affect you. When other people make comments about us, we often internalize these comments and work them into our opinions about ourselves. If you can figure out the root of your self-judgements, you can start to rethink how you perceive yourself.[3]
    • For example, if your mother always criticized your looks, you may not be very confident about your looks now. But understand that her criticisms were rooted in her own insecurities. Once you realize this, you can start to rethink your confidence about your looks.

Challenging Your Inner Critic

  1. Catch yourself when you think negative thoughts. Once you know the specific areas of your life for which you are most critical, it is time to start quieting your “inner critic.”[2] Your inner critic tells you things like: “I’m not the ideal body size” of “I can never do anything right.” Quieting your inner critic will reduce reinforcement of your negative thoughts about yourself which will aid you in creating room for compassion, forgiveness, and acceptance. To quiet your inner critic, practice catching these negative thoughts as they come up. For example, if you catch yourself thinking, “I’m such an idiot,” ask yourself these things:
    • Is this a kind thought?
    • Does this thought make me feel good?
    • Would I say this thought to a friend or loved one?
    • If these answers are no, then you know that your inner critic is speaking again.
  2. Challenge your inner critic. When you find yourself thinking negative thoughts about yourself, challenge and quiet this inner critic. Be prepared with a positive counter-thought or mantra. You can use the strengths that you’ve identified in previous steps.[2]
    • For example, if you catch yourself saying, “I’m unintelligent,” change the thought into a kind statement: “Although I may not know this topic, I am intelligent in other ways and that is okay.”
    • Remind yourself of your strengths: “We are not all talented in the same things. I know that my talent or expertise is in another area, and I am proud of that.”
    • Remind your inner critic that the negative statement is not true. “Okay, inner critic, I know you are used to saying that I am not intelligent, but it’s not true. I am learning that I have the strength of intelligence in important and specific ways.”
    • Be sure to always be kind to your inner critic. Remind and teach yourself, because you are still learning to alter your thoughts about yourself.
  3. Focus on self-acceptance first before self-improvement. Self-acceptance is accepting yourself just how you are in the present. Self-improvement focuses on changes that need to be made in order to accept the self in the future. [1] ,[2] Identify areas with the intention to value them as they are now. Then, you can decide whether you want to improve them in the future.
    • For example, you might want to lose weight. First, start with a self-acceptance statement about your current body weight: “Even though I want to lose weight, I am beautiful and I feel good just as I am.” Then, frame your self-improvement in positive, productive terms. Instead of thinking, “I am not the ideal body shape, and when I lose 20 pounds I will be beautiful and feel good,” you can say, “I would like to lose 20 pounds so that I am healthier and I have more energy.”
  4. Alter expectations of yourself. When you set unrealistic expectations for yourself, you are setting yourself up for disappointment. This will, in turn, make it hard to accept yourself. Shift your expectations of yourself. [4]
    • For example, if you say, “I am so lazy. I didn’t even clean the kitchen today,” change your expectations to say, “I made dinner for the entire family. I can get the kids to help clean the kitchen tomorrow after breakfast.”

Creating Compassion for Yourself

  1. Learn that you are worthy of compassion. It may seem odd or uncomfortable to say that you will create compassion for yourself because it may seem self-centered, but self-compassion is the bedrock of self-acceptance. This is because compassion is the “sympathetic consciousness of others' distress with a desire to alleviate it.”[5] You are deserving of this same understanding and kindness! The first step in self-compassion is validating your own self-worth.[1] It is easy and quite common to allow others’ thoughts, feelings, opinions, and beliefs to dictate our self-approval. Instead of allowing your approval to be the decision of others, make it your own. Learn to validate and approve of yourself without needing it from others.[1]
  2. Practice daily affirmations. An affirmation is a positive statement meant to encourage and be uplifting. Using this method for yourself can be a powerful tool in helping to build self-compassion.[6] Having compassion for yourself makes it easier to empathize and forgive your past self, which will help you overcome feelings of guilt and regret. Daily affirmations also help to slowly change your inner critic. Build compassion daily by telling, writing, or thinking affirmations. Some examples of affirmations include:
    • I am able to get through tough times; I am stronger than I think.
    • I am not perfect and make mistakes, and that is okay.
    • I am a kind and thoughtful daughter.
    • Take a compassion break. If you are having a tough day accepting a particular part of yourself, take a moment and be kind to build self-compassion. Acknowledge that your judgement of yourself causes pain and that self-judgment can be overly harsh. Remind yourself to be kind and practice self-affirmation.[7]
    • For example: If you think, “I am not the ideal body shape; I am fat,” acknowledge that these thoughts are unkind to yourself: “These are unkind thoughts and I would not say them to a friend. They make me feel down and worthless.”
    • Say something kind: “My body may not be perfect, but it is mine and it is healthy and it allows me to do things I love like playing with my children.”
  3. Practice forgiveness. Practicing self-forgiveness can help reduce feelings of guilt from your past which may be preventing you from fully accepting your present. You may be judging your past based on unrealistic expectations. Forgiving yourself will lift your shame and will give you room to build a new, more compassionate and accepting view of your past. Sometimes our inner critic is reluctant to let us forgive ourselves for the past.
    • Sometimes we are unkind to ourselves by carrying around guilt. Take special notice of the guilt you may have. Try to evaluate if there were external factors involved in the situation. Sometimes events are out of our control, yet we hold on to those feelings of guilt. Evaluate if the actions were truly out of your control and resolve to forgive in abundance.
    • To help you practice self-forgiveness, the exercise of writing a letter can be a powerful emotional and cognitive tool to start the process.[8] Write a letter addressed to your younger or past-self, and use a kind, loving tone. Remind your younger self (inner critic) that you may have made mistakes. But you know you are not perfect, and that is okay. Our mistakes often offer valuable learning opportunities. Remind yourself that how you acted or what you did may have been all you knew how to do in that moment.
  4. Turn guilt thoughts into gratitude statements. Remembering that you often learn from past mistakes can help you think about your past in a productive way. Practice being thankful for what you have learned and accept that making mistakes is a part of life. Then, your past guilt or shame will not keep you from accepting yourself in the present. Write down the guilt phrases/thoughts you have, and turn each into a gratitude statement.[8] For example:
    • Unkind thought/inner critic: I was horrible to my family when I was in my 20s. I am so ashamed I acted that way.
      • Gratitude statement: I am grateful that I learned about behavior at that age, because it has been helpful in raising my own children.
    • Unkind thought/inner critic: I tore apart my family because I could not stop drinking.
      • Gratitude statement: I am grateful that I can mend relationships and try again in the future.

Getting Help

  1. Surround yourself with loving people. If you spend your time with people who negate your self-worth, you may have a hard time accepting yourself. When people are constantly critical of you, it will be harder to convince yourself that you have strengths. Spend time with people who are supportive of you and who love you. These people will give you the boost you need to accept yourself for who you are.[9]
  2. See a therapist. A therapist can help you peel back the layers that may be preventing you from accepting yourself. This person can help you delve into your past to understand why you think certain things about yourself. He can also help you come up with ways to talk with yourself, giving suggestions for self-affirmations and so on.
  3. Establish boundaries and communicate assertively with others. When you do need to interact with people who are critical or who are not supportive, you may need to set boundaries with them. Talk to these people so that they understand how their comments are unproductive and hurtful.
    • For example, if your boss is always criticizing your work, you can say, “I feel like I don’t get enough support with my project. I want to do good work, but I feel that it’s hard to please you. Let’s work on a solution that will work for both of us.”


  • The process of self-acceptance can take a while. After all, you are retraining yourself about how you talk to yourself. Be patient with yourself.
  • Time is precious. Make everyday count by working with infinite patience and compassion for yourself.
  • Do care about what others say you.Try improving yourself accordingly, but don't change yourself totally. There's no one like you in the world.

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Sources and Citations