Learning to accept ourselves is one of the most important (but challenging) lessons us women struggle with. From the size of our hips to the size of our paycheques, we spend a lot of time worrying that we’re not measuring up. The struggle is real; a Facebook update about an acquaintance’s new job, a magazine cover with an airbrushed super model, or a casual comment about a friend’s weight loss can be enough to send us down the dark path of comparison and self doubt.
The thing is - we’re smart women. Our rational brains know we are good enough, we are doing the best we can, and we are fully aware of our need to accept (and love) ourselves. But in real life our rational brains don’t always win the conversation and even the most confident amongst us sometimes find themselves suffocating from fear and self doubt.
1. Doubt and fear are normal emotions and while we can’t always control their arrival, we can choose how we respond.
We can allow insecurity to overwhelm us and drive unhealthy behaviours (from comfort eating to emotional shopping) or we can choose instead to be intentional with our actions and mindful with our thinking. Here are 4 simple steps to help you turn away from doubt and instead move towards self acceptance and love.
2. Do Something That Scares You
When it comes to self acceptance, fear is public enemy #1; we’re afraid of what other people will think, we’re afraid we’re not living up to our potential, and we’re afraid of failure. Fear is limiting and it holds us back from loving our lives and celebrating our achievements.
However, there is a way to fight fear and it’s surprisingly simple: do something that scares you. Invite a new friend for coffee, eat out in a restaurant alone, declare to the world that you’re going to start writing your novel, or quit your job and travel the world.
Big or small, when you push the limits of your comfort zone (and come out the other side alive) you build confidence and prove to yourself that you are strong and capable.
3. Practice Gratitude
Sometimes it’s oh so easy to lose sight of our blessings and to instead focus on our shortfalls. It’s difficult; right now we are living in a world where ‘more’ is perceived as better and ‘perfect’ (whatever that means) is perceived as obtainable or even expected.
We’re too often encouraged to look forward with longing for something more, instead of back over our undoubtedly rich lives with feelings of appreciation. Unsurprisingly, this leads to feels of inadequacy and lacking.
We can fight these feelings with a regular gratitude practice. Simple habits, like writing daily in a gratitude journal or finding quiet time each morning to reflect on our blessings, help us to accept and celebrate the abundance in our lives.
4. Cultivate a Supportive Environment
Actively seek out self acceptance by creating a welcoming and supportive environment. Too often we forget we have the power to let go of anything that doesn’t make us feel good about ourselves.
Become a ruthless editor about things in your home and the thoughts in your head. Review your environment and consider what’s contributing to your well being and self esteem and what’s generating feelings of insecurity and doubt.
A few places to start:
Your friends and colleagues - do they believe in collaboration or competition?
Your closet - are you hiding behind fast fashion or do you make mindful purchases that make you feel good?
Your social media feed - do you surround yourself with friends who support you and people that inspire you?
Don’t Forget Self Care
When you treat someone with respect and love, they believe they are worthy of respect and love.
Don’t forget that this applies to ourselves as well.
Prioritise hot baths, long walks, or afternoon naps; whatever makes you feel cherished and loved. Self care is the start of a beautiful cycle; when you treat yourself with love, you take better care of yourself - and when this happens you naturally become the best version of yourself (resulting in more love, more care and tons of self love!)
On a final note, self acceptance is not about settling; instead it’s about falling in love with your life. It’s about finding the courage to accept something that’s real instead of chasing an illusion. The choice is yours.