In a world that celebrates flawlessness, the journey towards self-acceptance is harder, but more important, than ever.
To embrace your imperfections is to set yourself free from the never-ending pursuit of perfection – a goal that is impossible to reach.
Accepting your flaws is important because they are an integral part of your true, authentic self.
It’s also the doorway to personal growth and happiness.
It’s much easier to grow when you can treat yourself with the love and care you deserve.
It’s much easier to be happy when you’re not constantly beating yourself up for failing to live up to an impossible standard.
But, like most things worth doing, self-acceptance is challenging.
Here are 10 ways to make your journey a little easier:
Speak to an accredited and experienced therapist to help you accept and embrace your flaws. You may want to try speaking to one via BetterHelp.com for quality care at its most convenient.
1. Practice self-compassion.
Self-compassion is a powerful tool that changes how you relate to your flaws.
Cultivating kindness, understanding, and positivity towards yourself makes it easier to accept your imperfections as you strive to grow.
You can reduce self-criticism by replacing a harsh internal dialogue with one that’s kinder and more supportive.
This change in perspective and self-talk provides several benefits.
It promotes emotional resilience by helping you navigate difficult emotions and experiences without spiraling into negativity. It enhances self-love, creating a more nurturing mental environment to accept your flaws.
This all trickles down to improve your mental well-being, lower your stress levels, and reduce anxiety and depression.
The simplest way to do it? Treat yourself as you would a dear friend.
2. Challenge your negative thoughts.
Challenging negative thoughts is a fundamental aspect of cognitive restructuring.
Cognitive restructuring is a therapy technique that aims to change maladaptive thinking patterns and cognitive biases, such as all-or-nothing thinking, overgeneralization, negative filtering, etc.
Negative thoughts often aren’t based in reality. They are frequently amplifications and distortions of more reasonable thoughts.
For example, let’s say you can’t stand people correcting you because you believe they think you’re stupid.
Instead of thinking, “They think I’m stupid,” you could reframe this to a more reasonable, “Well, maybe they know something I don’t. I can’t know everything.” You can accept it’s okay to admit that you don’t know something without viewing yourself negatively.
Don’t get bogged down in negative thoughts. Challenge them when they arise. Replace or balance them with more realistic or positive thoughts. Use positive affirmations to praise yourself and your efforts. It gradually helps.
3. Celebrate your achievements.
Celebrating your successes focuses your attention on your strengths and accomplishments rather than dwelling on your perceived flaws.
It helps you create a more nuanced view of yourself, balancing your flaws against your merits in a more reasonable way.
Success breeds success by improving self-confidence and goal accomplishment.
Meeting a personal goal that you set for yourself feels good. And that provides an incentive to pursue other goals. When you see that you can accomplish things, you feel more confident in pursuing the next goal.
Furthermore, your achievements enhance your self-image because you can look at them and say to yourself, “Yes, I did that. I accomplished that. I am worthy and capable.”
4. Set realistic expectations for yourself.
No one is perfect. Yet perfectionists refuse to be satisfied with anything short of this impossible goal.
But even if they devote all of their time and energy to attaining perceived perfection, you can guarantee that some people just won’t like it.
As the saying goes, “You can be the ripest, juiciest peach on the tree—but some people just don’t like peaches.”
That’s why you need realistic expectations.
You don’t want to waste your time tearing yourself down when you don’t reach your ideal state of perfection. You need to learn that good is often better than perfect. Good allows for growth and learning, perfection doesn’t.
5. Learn from your mistakes.
Everyone makes mistakes.
The ability to own the mistakes you make allows you to better accept your flaws because you’re not holding yourself to an impossible standard.
It also helps you strengthen your relationships, which can improve your self-perception because you don’t have to make excuses for your actions.
Take responsibility for your mistakes, admit you’re sometimes wrong, and then fix the situation. Then, celebrate yourself for making the right decision, even though it was a hard one.
It’s uncomfortable to admit you’re wrong, so facing this discomfort is something worth celebrating.
Go back and examine a situation when you make a mistake and don’t try to justify your bad behavior.
Instead, consider these questions. What could you have done differently? What could you have done better? What lesson is there to take from the mistake?
But do understand, there isn’t always a lesson for everything that happens in life. Sometimes bad stuff just happens and that’s the way it goes. You can learn from your reaction to it, though.
6. Surround yourself with positive, uplifting people.
Positive people help contribute to a supportive environment.
It’s much easier to be kind to yourself when you’re not around people who want to tear you down. If you’re surrounded by negative people, you may find yourself fighting with everyone just to try to keep your head above water.
There’s an old saying, “You are the sum of the five people you spend the most time with.” Basically, you pick up the mannerisms, habits, and perceptions of the people you are with the most.
If you spend more time with negative people, you’re going to think negatively. If you spend more time with positive people, you’ll have an easier time thinking positively. Simple.
So audit your social circles, and choose wisely whom you want to spend time with. Granted, there may be some people you can’t separate yourself from totally, but you can try to limit the amount of time you spend with them instead.
Be careful not to let the pursuit of positivity make you judgmental though. You’ll need to stop yourself thinking you are better than others and vice versa. It’s not about who’s better than who, it’s just about positively accepting yourself, and surrounding yourself with people who encourage that.
You may also find it helpful to use a therapist for meaningful support and guidance with this.
BetterHelp.com is a website where you can connect with a therapist via phone, video, or instant message.
7. Understand your triggers.
Different situations will trigger different emotions.
There are likely situations that trigger feelings of inadequacy and imperfection in you. By identifying these ahead of time, you can develop ways to counteract the negativity that they create.
For example, let’s say you got into an argument because you feel you have to be right all the time.
Someone challenged you about something and rather than hear and respect their perspective, you got defensive because you were certain you were right. As a result, the situation escalated into an argument that could’ve been avoided.
The trigger is that you feel you must be right all the time. How can you ease that trigger?
Try and be aware of when the situation is likely to arise. For example, if you’re meeting up with someone who often has different ideas about how to do things, or you’re going to a place where different viewpoints are likely to be discussed.
Having this knowledge will allow you to go in armed with strategies, such as practicing listening rather than speaking, or even deciding in advance that you’ll agree to try the other person’s course of action (within reason!).
You’ll have replaced negative trigger behavior with something positive, and you might even learn that yours isn’t the only way to get things done.
Exploring the root cause of your triggers can also help you unpick your behavior and develop healthier coping mechanisms.
If you’re struggling to identify the underlying cause yourself, therapy can be a great help.
8. Focus on your inner qualities.
Naturally, different people value different things.
Some people look in the mirror and see beauty, they look at their bank account and see wealth, they look at their jobs and see success. However, those things are all external. They don’t offer the kind of peace, self-love, and acceptance that everyone should want for themselves.
It’s time to start looking inward for gratification.
No amount of ‘stuff’ will carry you through because you can (and will) eventually lose it. Material items are easy to lose. Take your youthful looks or figure, they will disappear as you age.
Instead, what positive internal qualities do you have? What actions can you take to ease your self-perception and accept the rough and ‘ugly’ parts of yourself? What values do you have that make you a good person?
And if you feel you don’t have any, what is important to you?
There are plenty of ways to find values that can help you accept yourself. Religion and philosophy have guided the lives and perceptions of millions of people. They are an excellent place to start.
9. Focus on the journey.
Embrace the journey of self-discovery and acceptance instead of focusing on an idealized endpoint.
The truth is that self-improvement is a lifelong endeavor. You’ll take many steps on the path and see different sights along the way. If you’re hiking a trail, you should stop to appreciate the beautiful vista before you continue to the next step on the route.
Self-improvement is no different.
You’ll hit milestones, big and small, that you should stop and appreciate. There will be moments of breakthroughs. There will also be times when you struggle and are unsure of how you want to proceed.
Focusing on an idealized endpoint will make your journey harder. Why? As we’ve discussed, there’s no such thing as perfection.
Your idealized endpoint may not accurately reflect the actual end that you arrive at. It may look nothing like you imagined at the start of your journey.
That’s why you need to focus on the here and now, in the present, rather than a distant future.
10. Embrace mindfulness and practice gratitude.
Mindfulness and gratitude are powerful tools to develop acceptance and peace of mind.
Mindfulness is to be present in this moment, right here and now.
It’s not spending your time lamenting the mistakes you’ve made in the past. The past is gone—done and over with. There’s nothing more you can do with the past.
The future? The future is unknowable. You can make plans, try to enact them, and see where things go, though they may not go where you want them to. They may not go where you expect them to.
All you have is the present moment.
In this present moment, find gratefulness for what you do have. That might be safety, security, skills, friendships, or anything, really.
What is it you feel grateful for? Opportunities? Relationships? Just being here right now? Alive and hopefully well (enough)?
Mindfulness and gratitude can lead you to peace of mind, well-being, and acceptance of all the unique things that make you the individual that you are—flaws and all.
Still not sure how you’ll ever be able to accept your flaws and embrace your imperfections?
Speak to a therapist about it. Why? Because they are trained to help people in situations like yours.
They can help you to take a fresh look at your flaws and see them in a different, less negative light so you can accept that you aren’t a perfect individual.
BetterHelp.com is a website where you can connect with a therapist via phone, video, or instant message.
While you may try to work through this yourself, it may be a bigger issue than self-help can address.
And if it is affecting your mental well-being, relationships, or life in general, it is a significant thing that needs to be resolved.
Too many people try to muddle through and do their best to overcome behaviors they don’t really understand in the first place. If it’s at all possible in your circumstances, therapy is 100% the best way forward.
Here’s that link again if you’d like to learn more about the service BetterHelp.com provide and the process of getting started.