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Accepting Yourself as a Work in Progress

Accepting Yourself as a Work in Progress

If you were to stop and listen to the way you speak to yourself, would you hear a kind and loving voice? Is your self-talk encouraging, or critical and condemning?

Sometimes we have more patience with others than we do with ourselves. Being aware of the voices in your head is important to finding peace about who you are and what you bring to the world. If you’re constantly finding fault about the things you have or haven’t said and done, it’s most likely that you feel hounded by guilt, resentment and a sense of worthlessness. Depending on your personality, you might even border on being kinder to your enemies than to yourself!

Self-acceptance isn’t an excuse to stop us from growing to be the best we can be, but it can help us redirect negative patterns. You may feel pressured by your family, friends and the media to be someone that just isn’t realistic for you, but it’s also important to ask how much pressure you’re putting on yourself.

We often want to prove to ourselves that we are making something of our lives, that we are attractive, important and worth loving: in short, that we have something to offer the world. The problem comes when we try to prove this in ways that are actually damaging to our self-esteem. By condemning ourselves when we make a mistake, constantly comparing ourselves to others and our own image of what we think we ‘should’ be, we end up feeling inadequate.

How can we change this pattern?

1) Instead of thinking about what you’re not doing, think about all the things you are doing. What have you achieved lately? What fun things have you enjoyed? How much are you already investing in others? You may be surprised to find you’re actually making more of a difference than you realise.

 2) Listen to what you’re saying to yourself and actively change it when negative. Instead of thinking, ‘I should be doing that by now’, or, ‘I can’t believe I did that again’, remind yourself that you’re doing the best you can and that it’s okay to slip up. Also, instead of forcing yourself to do something because you feel you ‘should’, give yourself permission to say no, particularly if the demand is unreasonable or outside your area of responsibility.

3) Remember to separate your behaviour from yourself as a person. You may have made a mistake, but that doesn’t mean you’re a bad person. Sometimes we tell ourselves this; sometimes we receive criticism from others that make us feel this. The truth is, we all make bad decisions and mistakes from time to time, and when that happens it’s just best to face what we did wrong, make amends where possible, and use the experience to help us grow as a person.

4) Be aware of both your strengths and weaknesses. If we try to operate in an area that’s a weakness for us, we can easily end up frustrated and angry with ourselves. Develop your strengths and don’t be afraid to ask for help with your weaknesses. Where you may shine another may struggle, and we should never be ashamed when the reverse is also true.

5) Spend time with people who are encouraging and uplifting! Sometimes it’s easier to believe in ourselves when someone else believes in us first.

Overall, you have probably already achieved more than you think. What did you struggle with a year ago? Two years ago? Chances are, the things that were an issue for you back then aren’t so much of a problem now. By learning to accept yourself as who you are now, you are less likely to feel discouraged, guilty and inadequate – a burden we could all do without.