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How to Accept (& Believe In) Yourself

Apr 1 2021
6 min read
A woman standing in a wooded area looking off into the distance.

Most of us wouldn’t hesitate to fill in this sentence: I am not _____ enough.

And no matter which word comes to mind first: successful, smart, confident, patient, attractive, etc. — our answers reveal the power of negative self-talk. Instead of accepting and appreciating who we see in the mirror, or what we’ve accomplished (or have the potential to), we often focus on characteristics that we think we are lacking in, or goals we have yet to reach. Why are we so hard on ourselves? Canyon Ranch experts in life management and therapy suggest that most of us are hard wired to seek out what doesn’t work, rather than what does. And, sometimes, it reflects how we have been treated as children, if we carry a critical or doubtful voice in our heads for years afterwards. And other times, our sabotaging inner dialogue is a reflection of a lack of love, support, or specific needs that haven’t been fulfilled; and our goal is to learn how to provide that love and support to ourselves. Finding ways to be okay with the now, and to love and accept ourselves unconditionally — regardless of whether we have “achieved goals” — takes a shift in mindset that requires us to believe in our worth, our potential, and our unique beauty.

But most of us, experts say, are impatient, and set unrealistic expectations on goals such being prosperous, having a companion, achieving our perfect body imagine. We often want these things immediately fulfilled and focus on what we don’t have, and what we haven’t accomplished, creating a vibration of lack. And that’s when fear, disappointment, insecurity, and vulnerability bubbles to the surface as we can become desperate to find answers to why things aren’t different — why we aren’t ‘measuring up.’ All too often, we quickly point a critical finger to ourselves.

Making peace with yourself — who you are right now and who you were in the past — means defusing your internal fight about what’s true. Accept and honor yourself in the here and now, while still moving toward becoming the person you want to be. This can be a tall order, and it doesn’t happen overnight. Truthfully, it doesn’t usually happen gracefully or immediately. But you can shift your thinking — and eventually your feelings about yourself. Take these suggestions to heart on your way:

Think About Who You Really Are

We receive a lot of mixed messages about how to live our lives — the way we should look, how we should react to certain situations — that can play in our heads like a looping tape. Try to manage all of that noise around you and focus on what matters most to you. If an “I’m not _ enough” message persists, stop and ask yourself: Do I still believe this? How is this serving me? Is being that person truly important to me? If you are falling prey to comparisons to others, or what you think others want and expect of you, find a way to step away from all the distractions, so you can better hear your inner voice. A meditation and a gratitude practice can help. When we meditate, for instance, we can often drop into our quiet heart space and connect to our intuition and spirit. Being grateful of what you have, via a daily gratitude practice, can also help you to better accept yourself and appreciate what you have — while fine-tuning your focus to seek out more of what you enjoy. Perhaps a weekend spiritual retreat can help you get in touch with your inner-most desires and find more appreciation for who you are and what you have already accomplished.

Take Your Fears With You

We often recreate the fears we internalized when we were young. For example, if you never received much praise for your schoolwork as a child, you might worry that you’re work at the office isn’t up to par. Instead of allowing your past to overshadow your present, let those uncertainties and insecurities travel with you — just not guide you. In this case, you might volunteer to head up that new project. It may be hard to shake your worries right away, but that’s okay. You don’t need to do so completely in order to move on, which can be a freeing realization. Reaching forward gives us an energy that we don’t feel if we let our fears hold us back.

Relish Your Journey

When we’re so focused on being something other than what we think we are, or having something in our lives that we don’t currently, we’re constantly looking ahead ungratefully, and are less mindful and appreciative of the present moment. It’s important to remember, however, that the experience itself can be valuable. In fact, just trying at all is something to be proud of. Being aware of what’s happening now can help you appreciate who you are now. You may worry less about the outcome of what you do, and instead find that it’s the experience that fulfills and defines you most. When this begins, you start to enjoy your journey — and even the uncertainties of what’s past every bend in the road.