Learning how to be okay with yourself might not seem like a super positive approach to improving your mental health at first glance. But for many of us, there are times when simply being okay with who you are feels much more genuine and achievable than practicing full-blown self-love.
Loving yourself mentally is easy on a good day – when you are feeling confident, have a lot to look forward to, or are in a good mood.
But what do you do on the bad days? Or if you make a mistake? Or fail?
On days when loving yourself seems impossible, where do you turn?
A secret to self-love that no one ever talks about is what comes before it: simply being okay with yourself.
There is nothing wrong with taking a more neutral stance. In fact, I believe that learning how to be okay with yourself is one of the most daring acts of self-love you can practice.
Why? Because it stops you from putting so much pressure on yourself. It gives you permission to be as you are without all the guilt.
Being okay with yourself is viewing yourself in an accepting and realistic light, regardless of your circumstances.
It’s like having a foundational core of acceptance within yourself. Both on good days and on bad days.
How Can You Start To Be Okay With Yourself?
First off, the way you feel about yourself can shift on a day-to-day, or even a momentary basis.
But in general, the underlying sense of how you feel about yourself is something that can be continuously built and expanded upon throughout your life.
Here are some ways to start to feel okay with yourself, which will hopefully lead to stronger feelings of contentment on a more regular basis, so you can truly start to love yourself mentally.
1. Change Your Narrative
Oftentimes, if you don’t feel okay with who you are, it’s because you’ve created a narrow view of yourself. Or who you think you should be. Or how you should feel.
You may be constantly inundated with pressure to practice self-love, always. And perhaps you think that you should love yourself mentally all the time. And if you don’t, then something is wrong with you. Trust me, that is not the case.
These mistaken beliefs are formed in many ways. Like how your parents raised you, the subtle comments you received from others over the years, or the many messages society imposes upon you every day.
Here are some examples of how your experiences influence the negative thoughts you have about yourself:
- Perhaps a parent says “you have to get good grades or you’re going to be grounded.” This may one day translate into the mistaken belief “if I do not succeed, I deserve to be punished.”
- You’re constantly fed ads that tell you that wrinkles, or belly fat, or blemishes on your skin are unacceptable, and need fixing. Over time, you start to feel like anything that isn’t perfect according to these unrealistic standards isn’t okay.
- Or, you’ve experience racial microaggressions for as long as you can remember, so you subconsciously develop feelings of self-doubt about who you are and your own capabilities.
There are endless possibilities as to how your story, or rather your view of your story, impacts how you feel about yourself.
Reflecting on the root of your insecurities will help you to form a new narrative. I highly recommend you try journaling – here are 30 prompts to get you started.
You can gain deeper empathy for yourself, because you’ll better understand how you came to be who you are.
Oftentimes, you are too caught up in our own narrative to see what other possibilities might be out there. If this is the case, it can be very helpful to talk it out with a therapist.
2. Counter Negative Thoughts
Recognizing when you are engaging in limiting beliefs is the first step. The next step is to start to shift, expand, or replace those beliefs that you have.
In fact, you are engaging in countering negative thoughts as you’re reading this post right now! Because you’re considering the idea that being okay with yourself is also an effective way to practice self-love and build self-esteem.
CBT stands for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. And, it can teach you to recognize the actual thoughts that are happening in your brain, and how to shift them.
There are worksheets and books that use CBT to improve self-esteem, and really help you expand the way you view yourself.
Your brain is very used to the way it thinks. Most likely, there are automatic thoughts that pop up in your mind that you aren’t even aware of. Recognizing those thoughts takes PRACTICE.
But once you do, you will actually change the way your brain thinks! You can then learn to talk to yourself in a way that is more compassionate and less negative. And eventually start to actually believe what you’re saying.
Here are some examples of statements you can use to counter any mistaken beliefs you notice you are having about yourself:
- “I am learning to be okay with myself.”
- “I can be critical of myself and still know deep down that I am worthy.”
- “I am more than my mistakes and am learning to accept myself for who I am.”
If these statements don’t resonate with you quite yet, that’s okay. This work is hard, and it takes PRACTICE.
For more a more in-depth exercise, download my free CBT Worksheet for Self-Esteem. And check out my youtube video, on how to build positive self esteem.
3. Practice Self-Compassion
Let’s say you’re trying to be okay with yourself, but it isn’t working. This is when practicing self-compassion comes in.
Change is not linear. There may be days when you fall back into old patterns of thinking. Or feel like you’ll never be good enough.
That’s normal. You’re human.
You can feel not okay with yourself and still be gentle with yourself at the same time. For more tips on how to do this, check out this post on self-compassion.
4. Stop Comparing Yourself To Others
Comparing our accomplishments to the successes of others is a very normal human behavior.
And when you compare ourselves to others, you tend to feel either:
A) Inspired to be your best self, or
B) Insecure about where you are in your own life.
And if you catch yourself in a place of thinking more about the wonderful qualities of others, but are unable to acknowledge your own positive traits, it’s time to STOP!
There is always going to be someone “prettier” or “smarter” or “more accomplished,” or who “has more friends” or is “making more money” than you.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter. All that matters is learning to be okay with where you are in your own life.
Put more energy towards you. Reduce the time you spend on social media. Visualize blinders inside your mind, so that instead of looking out towards the periphery at what others are doing, you can stay focused on your own path.
Your own journey is what matters most for your life and your happiness. And it’s also the only thing within your control. If you’re feeling stuck on your own journey, this 10-minute values exercise is one of my favorites, and guaranteed to help point you in the right direction.
5. Understand How Worthiness Actually Works
Perhaps you think that if you aren’t successful enough, or attractive enough, or kind enough, or perfect enough, then you simply are not good enough period. And you have this false belief that you are not worthy enough to be happy or fulfilled or loved.
But guess what? Every single human being on this planet is worthy of love and belonging simply because they exist. INCLUDING YOU.
Let me repeat that.
YOU are worthy of love and belonging SIMPLY BECAUSE YOU EXIST.
This means that even if you’re not feeling okay with yourself, you’re still a worthy human that deserves happiness.
When it comes to your core worth, none of this matters:
- how much money you make
- the mistakes you’ve made
- what your body looks like
- how you feel about yourself
- your mental health diagnosis
- the judgements you make about others
- the way you spend your time
- what you do for work
- how you’ve failed
- your marital status
- whether or not you have children
- how many people you’ve slept with
- the color of your skin
YOU ARE WORTHY. YOU ARE ENOUGH. YOU DESERVE LOVE. PERIOD.
One of my favorite ways to remind myself of my worthiness is to practice the “even though, nevertheless” exercise, which I am sharing from The Self-Esteem Workbook by Glenn R. Schiraldi (which I highly recommend!).
Just remember the words “even though, nevertheless” and apply them whenever you need to.
Here are some examples:
- “Even though I didn’t get the job, nevertheless, I am a worthwhile person.”
- “Even though I have a big nose, nevertheless, I am worthy of love.”
- “Even though I don’t feel good about myself right now, nevertheless, I deserve to feel at peace.”
Learning to be okay with yourself, and perhaps even loving yourself mentally, is a lifelong journey.
My hope is that with time, you’ll be able to view yourself the same way that everyone else already views you – as a worthwhile person, who is deserving of love and belonging.
And if you struggle with being okay with yourself, or liking yourself, therapy can help you. If you live in New York, take a look at my services page to see if we may be a good fit, and please reach out if you’d like to start working together.
If you found this post helpful, feel free to like it below, and share it.
And if you’re not looking to start therapy but want some guidance on self-acceptance and mental health, download my free self-reflection guides here.