When you are wondering how to like yourself better, it sometimes feels like an overwhelming task. This is especially true if you have a loud inner critic.
But please know that the path to liking yourself more isn’t all or nothing. You can both be self-critical and at the same time learn to like yourself better.
It’s OK if You Don’t Yet Fully Like Yourself
Many people struggle with self-criticism which makes it hard to like themselves. This is a result, in part, on the emphasis to always be better and have more in Western society. When you are pressured to always strive to be the best in every area of your life, it makes sense you will naturally criticize yourself for not being there yet.
Of course, this emphasis on being the best in every area of your life at all times is inhumane. It goes against the very nature of what it means to be alive.
Learning How to Like Yourself Better Tip #1: Stop Comparing Yourself
The first step to liking yourself more requires you accept your humanity. This means that you practice remembering and acknowledging that all people have things in common. This includes how each person has their gifts and strengths yet also has flaws and challenges. This is the part of the human experience.
No matter what you see on the surface each person has their struggles and weaknesses. Someone may look like they have it “all” on social media, for instance, including the “perfect” relationship, body, career, etc. Yet this is not the full picture.
All Thoughts of Comparing Yourself Hurt Your Self-Esteem
When you start to compare yourself to others as less than, or not “good enough,” it’s important to interrupt these thoughts.
Alternatively, it’s also important to interrupt thoughts of comparing yourself positively to others. This may sound strange at first but when you positively compare yourself to others i.e., you are better looking or smarter, this makes you self-esteem fragile. This is because your self-worth is dependent on external qualities which may change rather than just believing you are enough innately which never goes away.
How to Stop Comparing Yourself
It’s nearly impossible without lots of practice to not compare yourself to others. Remember learning to like yourself better is not all or nothing. You may still be critical of yourself especially in contrast to others’, yet you may learn to interrupt these thoughts.
This requires you pay attention to your thoughts which is a mindfulness practice. When you start to compare yourself to others, notice this. As soon as you notice you are comparing yourself try this:
- Take a breath,
- Congratulate yourself for being mindful of your thoughts – this is a critical step towards greater self-esteem,
- Instead of paying attention to what triggered comparisons scan your environment – count how many trees you see or items of the same color to orient yourself back to the present moment,
- Keep repeating this task as often as you need even if it feels tedious. Learning to like yourself better requires you stop engaging in thoughts which harm your self-worth. This usually takes a lot of time and effort.
Learning How to Like Yourself Better Tip #2: Practice Being Good Enough
To like yourself better, it’s important to interrupt not only thoughts of comparing yourself to others but the idea that you can be “perfect.”
It’s not humanly possible to be perfect. Of course, you may have moments of greatness in specific areas you are both talented within and practice excelling within yet you can’t be perfect all the time. Even top athletes trip up at times despite their skill level and the amount of time they devote to their sport.
Perfect Doesn’t Exist
When you accept your humanity, you begin to let go of the illusion of perfection. It takes a lot of practice to set limits on perfectionism but it’s worth it if you want to like yourself better.
It’s not possible to fully like yourself and still believe that you are able to be perfect. The opposite of perfect is authentic – who you really are alongside celebrating your gifts while accepting your limitations or difficulties. Here, it’s helpful to keep reminding yourself of the human condition which is to be imperfect.
How to Practice Being Good Enough
Admittedly, it’s difficult to overcome perfectionism. This is why you want to first interrupt your thoughts of simply being able to be perfect or needing to do more as you do with your thoughts of comparisons. Take a breath and redirect your attention to the present moment.
Next, you will want to practice being self-compassionate which means to give yourself grace. Allow yourself to celebrate your wins while accepting that good enough is good enough by creating a self-compassionate mantra. Examples of this mantra include:
- That’s enough for now
- Perfect isn’t possible
- No more is needed right now
- Anything worth doing is worth doing imperfectly
Practice saying this mantra whenever you are pressuring yourself to do or be more. Then after saying your mantra take a break from the task (even if it’s only 5 minutes). You must practice giving yourself grace to like yourself better.
Learning How to Like Yourself Better Tip #3: Be Kind to Yourself
You may be quite self-critical while still actively practicing being kinder to yourself. You have started to do this by interrupting thoughts of comparisons to others and perfectionism.
Part of being kinder to yourself also includes accepting and caring for your emotions.
Emotions are Human
You may have learned, at some point, that emotions are weak or unimportant yet all feelings – even the uncomfortable ones – have lessons in them when you listen. For example, the gift of pain is that it provides the motivation to change and heal.
Being kinder to yourself requires that you listen to your emotions. Otherwise, when you ignore your emotions they always intensify. You may find that you end up exploding on others when you ignore feelings like anger or resentment. This natural explosion after stuffing your emotions may likely make you feel even worse about yourself.
Or you may implode on yourself when you stuff your emotions and become increasingly anxious and/or depressed. This leads you to feel more insecure.
How to Care for Your Emotions
Self-soothing skills are the ways you care for your emotions effectively – without ignoring them or making them too loud i.e., getting lost in your feelings.
These are practical skills that help you feel soothed. A good part of therapy early on emphasizes learning, and practicing, these skills. You may not always feel better when you use these skills but you won’t feel worse at least. These skills include deep breathing, taking a walk or a bath, or coloring when you feel overwhelmed. But there are many strategies to soothe your emotions.
Of course, it’s human to naturally forget the things which comfort us when we are overwhelmed by intense emotions. To support yourself, you may want to keep a list of self-soothing activities nearby to reference whenever you need to be kind to yourself.
You may download a free self-soothing handout here to be kind to yourself as needed:
You Can Learn to Like Yourself Better
It’s a practice to learn how to reduce thoughts, and behaviors (like ignoring your emotions) which hurt your self-esteem. It is work to develop greater self-esteem but it also takes effort to stay stuck in thinking or actions which hurt – it’s just more automatic so it’s not always obvious.
However, you are completely capable of learning to like yourself better by committing to these action steps.
You are truly worth it – you are here for a reason and like all others, you have gifts and talents that benefit the world when you learn to give yourself grace. Thank you for doing this work and remember, learning to like yourself better is a practice which is all about progress, not perfection.
About The Author
Krystal Mazzola Wood, LMFT is a practicing relationship therapist with over a decade of experience. Currently, Krystal sees clients at her private practice, The Healthy Relationship Foundation. She has dedicated her entire career to empowering people to heal from unhealthy relationship processes. She does this by teaching the skills and tools necessary to have a life filled with healthy and loving relationships.
This passion led her to write her best-selling books and create courses. Her books, The Codependency Recovery Plan: A 5-Step Guide to Understand, Accept, and Break Free from the Codependent Cycle and The Codependency Workbook: Simple Practices for Developing and Maintaining Your Independence have helped many people heal.
She is currently working on her book, Self-Love Made Possible: The 5-Step Guide to Stop Being Your Own Worst Enemy and Become Your Own Best Friend. To be notified of its release, please join the waitlist here.
If you have any personal dating or relationship questions, Krystal is happy to provide advice using her expertise and compassion. If you feel comfortable, feel free to leave any questions in the comments of this post. Otherwise, you may send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or DM her on Instagram.
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