OK, just go ahead and say it: You’re not perfect and you never will be. Didn’t it feel good to get that out of the way?
Stop being so hard on yourself
If you think you will finally achieve happiness once you reach the perfect weight, get the perfect job, achieve all your goals, and eliminate all your shortcomings, then you’ve got it all wrong. Self-acceptance doesn’t mean that you think you’re perfect. It means that you know you’re not but you love yourself anyway.
If you’ve got that self-critical, nagging voice in your head tallying up all your mistakes, measuring yourself against everyone else and belittling your accomplishments, you’re going to have to make friends with yourself before you’re ever going to be happy. Real self-acceptance is probably the shortest route to happiness. When you embrace your weaknesses along with your strengths, your mistakes along with your achievements, and love your imperfect life for what it is, you have gained control over your own happiness.
That doesn’t mean there is no room for self-improvement or growth. It only means that you know that you are worthy of love and compassion just the way you are. Funny thing is, most people know this but very few practice it. A survey conducted by Britain’s University of Hertfordshire asked participants to rate themselves on 10 “happiness habits”, one of them being self-acceptance. Turns out, self-acceptance was the least practiced by participants. But when asked how satisfied they were with their life overall, those who actually practiced acceptance were the most satisfied and happy.
Self-acceptance is a skill that can be learned with practice, like anything else. Before you start exercising your self-acceptance muscles, it might help to assess where you are right now.
Here are some of the tried and true strategies for improving your compassion and embracing who you are:
Notice your strengths
Think about the things you do well. Make a list of your good qualities. Remember all the good choices you made and your successes. It might help to write this all down so you can go back and look at it whenever you need to.
Accept your shortcomings and forgive your mistakes
Stop judging yourself. Self-acceptance means recognizing that you’re human. Sure you could have done this or that better and maybe you will next time. But right here, right now, your imperfect self is good enough.
Count your blessings
There is nothing like gratitude to shake you out of your negativity. Look around at your friends, your comforts, the things you like, the people you love, and the accomplishments you’ve achieved.
Surround yourself with supportive people
Step back from those people who don’t understand you, who cause you pain or don’t treat you with respect. You don’t have to like everyone, and not everyone has to like you.
There will always be those less fortune than you. When you see that you can have a positive impact on the lives of others, you’ll see the power of good in yourself.