Liking yourself is one of the main keys to a more fulfilling and happy life! It takes a little practice and effort to get there, but with some practical tips on how to instill self-acceptance and change the way you think about yourself, you'll be well on your way to liking yourself.
Part 1 of 2: Learning the Basics of Loving Yourself
Step 1. Cultivate self-acceptance
Self-acceptance is the biggest component in learning to like yourself. This basically means that you accept yourself on a neutral level, that you don't say things like 'I would have liked myself if I had…' or 'I would have accepted myself as soon as I was…' Self-acceptance means no mind who you are at this point.
- Don't count your failure and success scores. You can learn from both, but you must change your habit of valuing and reassessing yourself based on what you have done and what you have failed to do.
- Changing the way you think is the hard part. When you encounter a situation where you fail at something, for example, instead of blaming yourself again and again for your failure, look at it from a neutral point of view. Say 'this is what happened,' 'this is what I learned from this situation,' and 'this is how I will use this lesson in the future.' Don't start placing negative or positive markers on the situation.
Step 2. Build your confidence
Confidence is another key part of liking yourself, but it's a trait that is very easy to run away with. Part of being confident is not comparing yourself to others, because there will always be people who are better than you in certain areas, in appearance, in achievement. Confidence comes from within, not from how you compare to others.
- Don't judge others. When you go for a walk, pay attention to your mindset. Do you judge everyone you pass by their appearance, or their attitude? If that's the case, you might as well judge yourself harshly. Change that mindset and, whenever you start to think negative thoughts, replace them with positive thoughts. For example, if you're harassing someone because of how they look, shift your attention to their eyes or their nice sweater.
- Don't compare yourself to other people. Comparing yourself to others is one of the most depressing and the least useful of activities, and basically guarantees you to feel inferior. So whenever you find yourself starting to do just that, STOP! Replace negative thoughts with neutral thoughts (rather than thinking 'he has better hair than mine,' replace it with 'we both have really dark hair').
- Fake it until you believe it. You can pretend to be confident in yourself and that can trick your brain into thinking you really are. It basically changes your mindset (neuro path). In essence, this means, act like you like yourself, and you will trick your brain into believing it.
Step 3. Get rid of perfectionism
Nobody in this world is perfect, and if you insist on making yourself perfect, and that you are not good enough until you are perfect, you will never be able to like yourself. You're not perfect, you'll never be perfect, and that's okay.
- There's nothing wrong with trying to improve yourself. How else can you learn to play an instrument or learn 4 languages? But you have to keep this in perspective. You cannot determine your own worth based on the results of your self-improvement.
- Make a list of things you can do well. This list can include anything you want, from you being an expert at handling animals to you being a 4-star chef. This is a reminder that you have had successes and that you can do certain things well. When you feel disappointed in yourself, take this list out and remind yourself that you are already great, even if you are not perfect.
Step 4. Learn to be grateful
People who are often grateful are more likely to help others, are less envious of others (especially less envious of possessions), and they tend to have lower levels of stress and depression. Practicing gratitude will help you appreciate who you are and what you have that you can give.
- Keep a daily gratitude journal. Write down a number of things that have happened during the day that you are grateful for. They can be as simple as 'I have food to eat today' or 'I have internet access.' When you feel negative about yourself, open your gratitude journal and remind yourself of the things you are grateful for.
- Have a daily gratitude discussion. Talk to people you trust about what you're grateful for (you might even say you're grateful for their presence!). This will help reinforce what you write in your gratitude journal.
Step 5. Take care of your health
Keeping healthy is not just about looking good, it's also about taking care of your body. By ensuring that you take good care of your body, your brain will be better able to handle the stresses of life, which in turn makes it easier to like yourself.
- Eat right. Try to avoid sugary and fast food (if you can). Eat lots of fruits and vegetables and protein. Limit your carbohydrate intake (but don't eliminate them altogether!). Talk to your doctor about what foods are best for your body (because everyone's needs are different).
- Enough sleep. Sleep makes things easier. Sleep boosts your immune system, and helps relieve depression and pain. Aim to get 8 or 9 hours of sleep every night and if you can't do that, try to take a nap at least once during the day.
- Drink water. Your body needs a lot of water to function properly and dehydration can cause headaches, fatigue, and limited thinking. Try to drink at least 3 L of water every day.
- Take adequate vitamin D. This little vitamin is available in capsules, as well as in sunlight. And as anyone from any part of the world who doesn't get enough sunlight can tell you, vitamin D can change your overall mental state. Get more vitamin D to help deal with mental problems and build your brain's ability to like yourself.
Part 2 of 2: Liking Yourself Every Day
Step 1. Laugh
Laughter has good long-term and short-term benefits that can help you like yourself. In the short term, laughter can cause things like increasing endorphins in your brain, lowering your stress response, and stimulating circulation to help reduce stress. In the long run, laughter can make it easier for you to deal with difficult situations, understand other people, and can help improve your mood.
- Meet up with old friends and reminisce by talking about funny things that you both have been through.
- You can watch a movie that you find funny, or read a book that is funny. Just find a little time in your day for you to laugh.
Step 2. Exercise
Exercise releases endorphins and serotonin in the brain, which are chemicals that elevate your mood and make you feel good, which in turn helps you like yourself more. Plus, exercise also helps keep you healthy, which also helps you like yourself more (because, how many people like themselves when they have a cold?)
There are many ways to exercise and it doesn't always have to be hard to do. You can take dance classes, or practice yoga. You can run, or walk (which are great ways to get to know where you live)
Step 3. Learn a new skill
Learning to do something new is a great way to help you learn to like yourself. It takes you out of your comfort zone AND shows you what you can do, which can greatly increase your self-confidence.
- Look for free workshops in your community. You can usually find anything from cooking classes to glass blowing tutorials. Look at the flyers at your local library, or look at your community event calendar.
- Being outside your comfort zone is something that will happen to you often in your life. If you can control certain things from this, as an exercise, you will find that you can feel more confident in yourself and your abilities when life throws difficulties at you.
Step 4. Help others
The key quality that makes people likable is the way they treat others. This means big things like volunteering at a local homeless shelter (or animal shelter) and it also means small things like being respectful to everyone you talk to.
- One easy way to treat other people well is to not gossip about them. Spreading rumours, especially bad ones, will make you feel even worse, because you'll be worried about people doing the same to you, and they'll make other people really dislike you, which is very self-defeating. You.
- Do polite things for people, such as: opening the door for them (no matter their gender), helping friends in need (taking them to the doctor, doing small things like bringing food when they are sick).
- This doesn't mean that you have to help everyone, or that you have to be submissive and just say yes to everything. Remember that you have to treat yourself as well as you treat others, which means you have to respect your boundaries too.
Step 5. Learn to be comfortable being alone
As you learn to be happy with yourself, you will find that as a result you become more comfortable with yourself, especially in uncomfortable situations, where you usually feel lonely, or embarrassed (for example, when you you don't know anyone at the party you're attending).
- If you're alone, don't just pull out your phone and start texting, or calling all your friends. Instead, pay attention to your surroundings. If you are at home, do simple activities like drinking tea and feeling the moment.
- If you're out (at a coffee shop, or at a party), remind yourself that your value isn't based on who, or how many, people you interact with.
- This also applies when you are single, not when you have a boyfriend. There's nothing wrong with wanting to have a boyfriend, but when you start to judge yourself based on whether you're single or not, that's when it's going to get in the way of you liking yourself.
Step 6. Pamper yourself
Especially when you're having a bad day, or a day where you're really doubting yourself, take yourself to have some fun. Go shopping, eat delicious chocolate cake from your favorite coffee shop, or just relax by soaking in the warm and comfortable water.
- This will allow you to take a break from your worries and stresses that are the cause of your doubts. As soon as you have recharged yourself, you can return to all your activities feeling more relaxed.
- Pampering yourself is also important because it reminds you of the importance of your time and your health. When you rest, you can finally put yourself first (instead of your job, your lover, your friends, your family, your school, etc.).