“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”Sharon Salzberg
The most important relationship you will ever have is the one you have with yourself. It is from a healthy relationship with the self that healthy relationships with others form.
From a place of loving oneself, you can open up enough to love others and experience the joy and bliss of being alive.
This article will explore why and how to like yourself in a world that makes it a difficult task.
We will help you figure out what it is about yourself that you do not like and how to shift your mindset to cultivate a positive, healthy, and loving self-relationship moving forward.
Why don’t I like myself?
Some of the most common reasons people struggle in their self-relationship are:
1. Societal expectations
Unfortunately, it is not always easy to like yourself.
We live in a world that seems to thrive on us not liking ourselves.
How many advertisements do you see for beauty products that alter our appearance? Anti-wrinkle creams? Muscle-building supplements?
Products promise to change your appearance and ultimately make you ‘happier‘ as though you are not content with your skin. As though you need the perfect look or the so-called perfect body to be happy.
Similarly, how many times have you felt bad about your productivity because you keep hearing that you should wake up at 5 a.m., work out every day, start your own business, and be there to support your family or loved ones?
There is a lot of pressure to be beautiful, happy, and productive in the society in which we live. Unfortunately, that pressure has a detrimental impact on our mental and emotional well-being.
External factors such as mass media and unrealistic beauty and productivity standards can lead to a negative self-view, but internal factors are also to consider.
For example, someone with perfectionist tendencies may dislike themselves even when they have done a reasonably good job on a task because they berate themselves for not doing it better.
They strive for perfection in everything they do, and when that perfection is not achieved, they blame and criticize themselves for not being ‘better.’
Perfectionistionism can be so extreme that they prevent a person from even trying to achieve a goal or try a new hobby because they cannot deal with the thought of failure.
As such, they are reluctant to try, but it is only through trial and error and failure that one comes to improve and grow in confidence.
3. Mental health issues
A person who experiences depression, anxiety and panic attacks, or any other persistent mental health issue may wish they were somehow different, less anxious, more sociable, etc., and dislike themselves for not changing or ‘getting better‘.
How to like yourself today
There are many reasons you may not like yourself – far too many to list.
Each person is as unique as their fingerprint and may experience uncomfortable feelings about oneself due to a combination of external and internal factors that affect their self-relationship.
Whatever the reason, understand that you can consciously change the dynamics of that relationship.
You can pull focus away from the negative mindset in which you lost yourself and shift it towards genuine love and self-compassion.
Understand that learning to like yourself is about finding yourself again—discovering that true, authentic, and inherently lovable core self that may have been buried under self-doubt and low self-esteem.
How to find yourself again
To begin showing yourself the love, care, and compassion you inherently deserve, try to make the following changes in your life. You do not need to do everything at once.
A healthy self-relationship does not happen overnight but results from a consistent, conscious effort to make positive changes.
1. Forgive yourself for your mistakes
Are you someone who over-criticizes yourself when you make a mistake? Do you hold on to guilt or shame if you let someone down? Do you strive to be perfect and never slip up or disappoint anyone?
If so, you are placing a lot of pressure on yourself to be something no human can achieve. Part of being human is making mistakes.
There is no way you can get everything perfect all of the time.
If you are your own worst critic, the most important thing to remember is to learn from your mistakes. You may not be able to stop yourself from ever making a mistake again, but you can use them as ripe opportunities to learn.
Learning from your mistakes makes it easier to forgive yourself when you practice learning from your mistakes. Self-forgiveness is key to a healthy self-relationship.
Now, that does not mean you do not need to seek forgiveness from others when you have done them wrong. It simply means that you can offer that forgiveness to yourself whether or not you have received it.
You need to remind yourself that you are trying your best. Support that positive self-belief with personal accountability and some lessons learned, and you are well on your way to liking yourself again.
2. Spend time with people who lift you up
Motivational speaker Jim Rohn once claimed, ‘ you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.‘
That is not a scientific claim but rather a prediction about how you view yourself and the world around you based on the company you keep.
Humans are social beings. That means we come to know and understand ourselves and others through the community.
We were (mostly) born into a family unit when we were born. That is our first community, and as young children, we did not have much choice regarding the members of that community.
However, as we grow older and break away from the confinements of the family unit, we begin to find our own community, a tribe of friends, lovers, and associates with whom we spend our precious time. Those members of that self-made community have a powerful influence on your mindset.
If you always spend time with negative people, you risk becoming a negative person. If you spend a lot of time with people who do not like themselves, you may find plenty of reasons not to like yourself too.
If you spend time with people who do not look after their health and well-being, you may fail to maintain that habit yourself.
Remember that the term ‘negative people‘ is not to judge their characters.
This is not an attempt to expose your friends. The term here refers to those who do not adopt a growth mindset but instead choose to play the victim, are passive toward life, and focus on the bad far more than the good.
If you can find people you respect, like, and admire, spend quality time with them. It may be a family member, a friend, or a colleague at work.
Find people who radiate love and self-acceptance and enjoy their company.
That growth-oriented, self-accepting, and self-loving mindset is incredibly contagious and easy to spot.
3. Don’t compare yourself to others
Constantly comparing your life, looks, or achievements to others is a losing game. There will always be someone with more and others with less.
If you want to improve self-esteem and truly start liking yourself, it is wise to let go of comparison.
When you believe that another person is ‘better‘ than you just because they have more money, a particular look, a lot of friends, or anything else you hold in high esteem, you will probably feel bad about yourself.
You may wish you were that person or even resent them for their success. Such a way of thinking is a gateway to unhappiness and discontent in your life because you base your self-worth on how you are fair against someone else.
Alternatively, sometimes we achieve a sense of validation or recognition by comparing ourselves to those we perceive as inferior. Perhaps we find ourselves indulging in the sense of superiority because we work in a higher position than someone else, have a nicer car, or even take better care of our health.
Be mindful of such a way of seeing things. That sense of superiority brings only false happiness and is set to crumble when someone comes along with a better job, a nicer ride, or a more athletic physique.
Instead, practice accepting yourself just as you are without referencing another person.
“Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.”Brené Brown
4. Be mindful of your self-talk
Everyone knows someone in their lives who is a harsh critic. Sometimes it is an overbearing boss, a parent, and a partner.
Whoever it is, constantly hearing their unconstructive criticism soon becomes incredibly frustrating and can make us doubt our abilities, even our worth.
Many of us do not realize that the inner critic, that voice inside our heads that judges and criticizes what we do, is far more destructive than any other voice or opinion.
When the inner critic is strong, separating it from our sense of self is hard.
We believe what our inner critic tells us because we believe them to be ‘us.’ However, understand that your inner critic is not necessarily ‘you‘ but rather a culmination of all the doubts and fears you have picked up in your life’s journey so far.
So, be mindful of the way you talk to yourself. That does not mean replacing every negative thought with a positive one; it does not mean constantly feeling happy and worry-free.
Being mindful of your self-talk means listening closely to what it says, not suppressing it. It means hearing its message but at the same time discerning between useful and useless information.
For example, a little bit of doubt may be helpful if you need to complete a complicated task because it will motivate you to take extra care and do your work diligently.
However, too much doubt may completely paralyze you and prevent you from even trying to complete the task in the first place. Hear your inner voice, understand it, then take what is useful and let go of the rest.
The more you learn to navigate your inner world while staying grounded and not falling for its illusions and deceptions, the more confident you will become in your own opinions and beliefs. With greater confidence comes a healthier relationship with self.
5. Let go of unrealistic expectations
Your own expectations about how your life should be can hold you back. Too many expectations to be happy, successful, start a family, and productivity every day can weigh you down and prevent you from achieving the life you deserve.
Try to let go of unrealistic expectations of yourself. You do not need to have your whole life together just yet.
Life itself is a journey of finding yourself. You are not supposed to be a finished product.
If you are unsure where you want to go next with your life, career, relationship, or even your hobbies, be unsure. Explore that uncertainty and its nuances rather than waste time on frustration because you do not have everything ‘fixed‘ or ‘together‘ just yet.
Often, not liking oneself occurs together with a lack of self-confidence. There may be a distinct lack of belief in oneself, abilities, and even capacity to change.
However, confidence grows through confident action.
That is why many life coaches, counselors, and therapists encourage those struggling with their self-relationship to set small, achievable goals in their daily lives.
By achieving even small tasks regularly, confidence grows and has a chance to flourish truly.
Moving forward, understand that making a conscious effort to improve your self-relationship is one of the most extraordinary acts of courage and deep wisdom you can take.
As you begin liking yourself again, notice that confidence boost you will gain.
Finally, if you struggle to feel like yourself, you face an increased risk of anxiety and depression, two of the most common mental health issues today.
If you find your mental health deteriorating due to the quality of your self-relationship, do not hesitate to reach out for support.
Therapy can be daunting initially, and many are reluctant to try it. Still, speaking to a licensed therapist or counselor about your issues, fears, and concerns can have a profound, life-changing, positive effect on how you feel about yourself.