How often do you think, “I wish I could change this about myself,” or “Why can’t I be better at that?” If you are always looking for ways to improve your appearance or personality, better your skills, or perfect yourself, it may be time to ponder how much you actually like yourself.
When you spend the majority of your time thinking about how you “could” be, instead of being happy with the way you currently are, there’s a good chance you are lacking in compassion for yourself. And when you feel this way, it means you are not comfortable with or do not accept yourself as you are. This is, unfortunately, a sign of low self-esteem.
Why It’s Important to Like Yourself
If you have positive self-esteem, that means that you accept yourself, just as you are, not how you “may” be some day. High self-esteem doesn’t mean you can’t be sometimes critical of yourself or that you should never evolve and change. But, having high self-esteem means you are capable of being happy while also being flawed, and that you recognize that life is about growing and changing, not perfecting oneself.
Self-acceptance is an important part of your mental well-being. It is strongly correlated to self-understanding, being able to empathize with others, and having a strong peace of mind. When you are able to lift the restrictions, you place on the love you have for yourself, you can accept yourself for who you are, flaws and all.
When you cannot accept yourself and no longer like yourself, you are more likely to feel chronically anxious. You are also more likely to worry about your shortcomings, to avoid circumstances that may reveal your perceived shortfalls, or to shy away from relationships.
Liking yourself means you don’t spend too much time ruminating on your mistakes or failures, which means you can bounce back more easily when faced with obstacles. You accept that we all have strengths and weaknesses, and you are doing your best to be the best person you know how to be.
Where Does Self-Hate Come From?
Whether you call it self-hatred or self-loathing, when you don’t like yourself, it has a powerful influence on your mental and emotional health. But where do these feeling come from? From early on, we are taught what to value and believe in our lives. When we grasp, at a young age, onto a notion that we are unworthy of love or happiness, this often leads to feelings of self-loathing later in life.
Those early experiences act much like a boulder does when it rolls down a hill. They pick up steam along the way, gathering up more “evidence” of your shortcomings or unworthiness, solidifying in your mind the reasons why you shouldn’t accept or like yourself all that much. And over time, it becomes harder to shake those off, as the boulder has grown too large to move on your own.
Learning to Like Yourself
If you want to learn to accept yourself for who you are, you have to earn your respect. You must embody your values and beliefs, living a life that exemplifies the characteristics you most value on the inside. Your self-esteem is founded upon your internal qualities and traits, not what’s on the outside. Focus on developing this, and the rest will fall into place.
Treat others well, too. Care for others, and you will soon notice that you feel better about yourself. When you focus on the needs of others, you start to also listen to the fundamental needs of yourself.
Learning to like yourself is about developing acceptance. And when you accept who you are, you will open the door to possibilities that only high self-esteem and self-love can unlock.