Most of us have criticized ourselves for years, perhaps thinking it will lead to the motivation we need to better ourselves, or maybe just doing it out of habit. Eventually, we realize that calling ourselves fat does not make us want to be healthier, that calling ourselves lazy does not make us work harder, and that calling ourselves un-loveable does not make us become more loving, or make others love us more.
Instead, criticizing ourselves only makes us believe these negative things more and more.
So how can we break out of this cycle? The only way find acceptance and contentment with who we are is to approve of—not criticize—ourselves. Here are 5 ways to do it every day.
1. Start and finish your day with some self-appreciation
Spend one minute first thing in the morning, and one minute last thing in the evening, appreciating yourself. When you wake up, instead of jumping out of bed with the alarm, sit up, take a few deep breaths, and name three things you appreciate about yourself.
These could be anything: maybe you are kind to others, funny, love singing, ate a healthy dinner, or are simply proud of yourself for getting out of bed in the morning! Practice the same exercise in the evening right before you lie down to sleep.
After doing this every day for a couple weeks, your self-esteem will be higher and you will naturally approve of yourself more even when you’re not doing the exercise.
2. Give yourself the approval you seek from others
We all fish for approval or compliments sometimes. We want our partner to tell us how wonderful and attractive we are, our boss to tell us what a good job we’re doing, or our friends to tell us how awesome they think we are.
The next time you find yourself picking up the phone so your friend can make you feel better, or telling your partner you don’t feel appreciated, remember that you don’t need others to approve you—you can do it yourself!
When someone else tells us something, it will make no difference unless we believe it ourselves, anyway. So, practice telling yourself what you want to hear from others—and slowly you will start to believe it!
3. Make a habit of asking yourself what you need—and then taking action
We often set expectations for ourselves based on what we think others expect from us, and then operate on autopilot to meet these imagined expectations. The problem with this is that these expectations are usually not based in reality, not in our own best interest, and only cause us to suffer.
Start making a habit of checking in with yourself throughout the day, and asking yourself what you need. Maybe your body feels stiff and you need to stretch, maybe you’re blood sugar’s low and you need a snack, maybe you need to take a break from the screen and go for a walk.
Whatever it is that you need, every time you grant it to yourself you’re reinforcing the fact that your needs matter, and should be met.
4. Stop the negative self-talk
Many of us spend our days undermining ourselves with unkind words. We must learn not to react to that negative inner voice that tells us how fat, lazy, unattractive, and worthless we are, because we are none of those things!
When you start hearing that destructive voice, don’t allow yourself to get sucked down the rabbit hole of self-criticism. Try to stay more aware of your self-talk, and when it becomes negative or not constructive, tell that voice inside of you that you don’t want to go there today, and actively think of something positive, perhaps something you are grateful for.
5. Be kind to others
We cannot separate the way we treat ourselves from the way we treat others. If we have a harsh, judgmental, or perfectionist attitude toward ourselves, we probably feel the same toward others, and vice versa.
In your interactions with others, try to be a better, more relaxed, and less judgmental listener. Boost someone else’s self-esteem when they are down on themselves, and forgive more. Being more compassionate toward others with translate to being more compassionate toward yourself!
Often, one of the biggest hurdles on the path to growth is the fact that we feel bad about wanting or needing to change. We look at others, they seem more positive and confident than us, and we feel even worse about ourselves. In order to approve of ourselves every day, we must stop judging ourselves and others, and remember that everyone has their own unique battle to fight.
Trust us, when you let go of unnecessary judgments and criticism, you’ll have a lot more energy left to fight yours!
-The Alternative Daily