How to feel better about yourself: Do I like myself?
You may wonder how to feel better about yourself. How can you raise your self-esteem? Become a better person? Better yourself?
These are questions we often ask, especially if we feel our self-esteem is low. However, these questions are related primarily to the question you need to answer first:
Do you like yourself?
Sometimes, people who want to better themselves or feel better about themselves start from a place of a healthy self-esteem. They want to become better because it’s the next logical step. Self-improvement that comes from a place of loving yourself and wanting to be better usually is very successful.
However, many people approach self-improvement not as a way to become better, but as a way to become good or even acceptable. They may dislike their bodies, their minds, their actions, and, overall, themselves. Our societal focus often supports being self-critical since there are so many standards to live up to.
In order to effectively find how to become a better person, the first step is accepting yourself as you are now. This includes being brave and courageous to face things you may not like.
How to feel better about yourself: A path to complacency
Many want to know how to become a better person and expect a solution that starts with change. However, the true way of learning how to feel better about yourself is to start with acceptance.
It seems contradictory. After all, wouldn’t you be encouraging complacency? Doesn’t accepting yourself mean there is no change? Paradoxically, no.
When you accept yourself, you achieve several things.
Firstly, you recognize your strengths, weaknesses, desires, and needs. They can guide you on the path to self-improvement effectively. For example, if you accept that you are not an athletic person, you may lower your expectations for sports. You start where you are and not where someone else is.
It will allow you to find the best activity to stay active. However, you will feel better choosing walks over jogging, for example, if you know that you don’t want a more intense type of activity.
Secondly, it allows you to love yourself. This, in turn, helps your self-improvement process start from a place of love rather than a place of dislike. This can make a huge difference.
How to feel better about yourself: Example, a path to complacency
Imagine two people are wondering about how to feel better about yourself. Both people feel they lead sedentary lifestyles, so they decide they can feel better if they exercise more. However, the first individual likes their body and themselves overall. The second person dislikes their body.
The first person is likely to find a type of exercise that suits them. They might dance or simply walk. The focus is on being more active.
The second person might feel that the answer to “how to become a better person” is to become thinner. They focus on losing weight and changing the body they dislike. And they choose an intense type of exercise, although they have never worked out before. They berate themselves for failing to achieve unrealistic goals. They are not as mindful of their body’s needs and may end up injuring themselves. While they may seem to be more motivated to change, in reality, they are more likely to fail.
Sometimes too much pressure is counter-productive. When one is in a relaxed state they can perform better.
How to feel better about yourself: The paradox of change
When you are wondering how to feel better about yourself or how to become a better person, then, you should start by accepting yourself.
In Gestalt psychology, there is the idea of the paradox of change. It states that the more we try to force a change, the less we will achieve it. The more a person wants to be kinder, the more frustrated they become with their peers. The more a person wants to stick to a diet, the more they seem to crave that extra cookie.
If you start your journey by accepting yourself and being mindful of yourself, the change you want may occur without as much effort.
Does this mean that people who try to become better through force never succeed? No, they may succeed. Some people have enough willpower to see through a workout they hate or maintain a routine that leads them to success. However, this can come at a high cost.
Some people may find that the results don’t last. For example, a person that is on a very strict diet may gain back all the weight they lost and more. This might happen when they start eating normally or when their control slips.
Some people may find they have been working in the wrong direction. For example, a person forcing themselves through college may get the diploma. Then, they may realize they hate this field and don’t find any pleasure in their work.
Overall, forcing yourself to change rather than accepting yourself first usually is not as effective. Once you accept yourself, it becomes easier to work to become a better person. Forceful change can cost a lot and yield worse results.
How to feel better about yourself: What about flaws?
When we talk about accepting yourself, many people feel it will also mean avoiding their flaws. This makes them feel like they are not learning how to become a better person, but rather are learning how to stay the way they are. However, truly accepting yourself means seeing your flaws for what they are and working to improve them, if you choose to.
Acceptance can guide you in finding out how to better yourself and improve your flaws. You will be able to do this without betraying who you are or trying to force changes to core aspects of your personality.
How to feel better about yourself: Working for acceptance
We are back to the original question. How to feel better about yourself? We now know that the first major step is acceptance. But how to feel better about yourself through acceptance?
The first step is usually to avoid judgments and labels. We often label ourselves: stupid, lazy, dumb, and so on. This can hurt our self-esteem. It’s a good idea to be mindful of the labels we use towards ourselves in our speech and thinking and challenge them. Do not label yourself, rather, focus on giving yourself constructive criticism.
Don’t push away a negative feeling about yourself. Rather sit with and dive into it. Feel it and release it.
Treat yourself with compassion. Avoid berating yourself for making a mistake. Rather, focus on the positive aspects of yourself and your achievements. Make any criticism you give yourself constructive.
Cut yourself some slack! If it’s hard for you, you can try to imagine you are talking to someone else. Would you treat another person this way? Would you call someone stupid for a small mistake? Treat yourself with the compassion you give others. Imagine that you are thinking about a dear friend when you are thinking about yourself and what happened.
So, how to feel better about yourself? Through acceptance. How to achieve this acceptance? By avoiding labels and judgments. Treat yourself with compassion, and you’ll find that you like yourself a lot more now.
Once you come from a place of acceptance your journey to better yourself will become more powerful and transformative.