You’re not perfect — but you already know that. Another news flash: No one else is perfect, either. Every single inhabitant of earth is flawed, yet some people can’t seem to acknowledge that it’s just part of being human. These folks are hard on themselves. Really hard.
They don’t just sigh exasperatedly when they forget to do laundry or get tongue-tied during a business meeting. They continually berate themselves, believing they’re “not good enough.” While this causes general unhappiness, it can also lead to psychologically, emotionally, financially or physically dangerous behaviors. These might involve drug and alcohol abuse, eating disorders, employment struggles, problematic relationships and unpleasant sexual encounters.
Wow. Time for some self-acceptance. It doesn’t mean ignoring your faults — that’s not realistic. Self-acceptance is being okay with who you are, warts and all. You know there’s room for improvement, but you understand that it’s a journey. When you do well, you’re happy, but you’re not looking for a medal. When you mess up, you take it in stride and try to improve. If this is a problem for you, listen to the words of some people who’ve probably been there, too.
What You Think Matters … a Lot
You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who knows you better than yourself. That’s why your personal opinion is so crucial.
- Oprah Winfrey has been wildly successful, but it took her a while to trust herself: “I was once afraid of people saying, ‘Who does she think she is?’ Now, I have the courage to stand and say, ‘This is who I am.’”
- Academy Award winner Sally Field struggled: “It took me a long time not to judge myself through someone else’s eyes.”
- Actor W.C. Fields, who made a living out of playing less-than-perfect characters, knew: “It ain’t what they call you — it’s what you answer to.”
Don’t Compare Yourself to Others
You’re always going to find someone who’s smarter, richer, kinder, better-looking, funnier or more accomplished than you. But, as some successful people note, that doesn’t mean you’re not smart, rich, kind, good-looking, funny or accomplished:
- Marilyn Monroe, a talented actor who struggled with self-acceptance, observed: “Wanting to be someone else is a waste of the person you are.”
- Judy Garland, another entertainer who battled personal demons, recommended:
“Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.”
- Poet Sanober Khan advises folks to remember they’re worthy: “When admiring other people’s gardens, don’t forget to tend to your own flowers.”
Other people like you. You have friends. If they value you, you must have something good going for you. Look for it.
- Humorist Mark Twain saw his share of failure, but he knew: “The worst loneliness is to not be comfortable with yourself.”
- As First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt logged miles around the globe. Still, she realized: “Friendship with oneself is all-important, because without it, one cannot be friends with anyone else in the world.”
- With her revolutionary wrap dress, Diane Von Furstenberg demonstrated that women’s clothes could be both beautiful and comfortable. She also believes comfort comes from the inside: “You’re always with yourself, so you might as well enjoy the company.”
Imagine What You Can Do
Self-acceptance isn’t easy — sometimes it’s a real struggle. But how much more can you accomplish if you take that step?
- Entrepreneur Mary Kay Ash founded a highly successful cosmetics company by not listening to negative thoughts: “Aerodynamically, the bumblebee shouldn’t be able to fly, but the bumblebee doesn’t know that, so it goes on flying anyway.”
- Poet and capital letter scoffer e. e. cummings suggests: “Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight or any experience that reveals the human spirit.”
- Author Louise L. Hay advises a new approach: “You have been criticizing yourself for years, and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.”
Accept Yourself … Or Else
You can live your whole life without accepting yourself. People do. But what kind of life will that be?
- Author Vironika Tugaleva isn’t optimistic: “If you do not respect your own wishes, no one else will. You will simply attract people who disrespect you as much as you do.”
- Motivational speaker William J. H. Boetcker was gloomy about prospects, as well: “You can succeed if nobody else believes it, but you will never succeed if you don’t believe in yourself.”
- Science fiction writer D. D. Barant uses a little sarcasm to underscore the problem: “I’ve got a bad case of the 3:00 a.m. guilts. You know, when you lie in bed awake and replay all those things you didn’t do right? Because, as we all know, nothing solves insomnia like a nice warm glass of regret, depression and self-loathing.”
There. Let those words of wisdom soak in. Come back to them next time you’re chewing yourself out for not being perfect. After all, as writer Amy Bloom says, “You are imperfect, permanently and inevitably flawed. And you are beautiful.”
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