This week I wanted to talk about the radical act of liking yourself and self-acceptance. It can be incredibly hard to find self-acceptance, and in this episode I talk about why it’s so hard, but also why it’s so, so worth the work.
Here I talk about how things changed for me when I left school, why fashion had a role to play and how I managed to change my relationship with myself. I share some tips that you can try to gain more self-acceptance and recommend a few techniques and resources to help.
You can listen wherever you get your podcasts or listen here.
LINKS AND FURTHER READING:
- How fashion helped me recover from anorexia
- Self-acceptance game changers
- How to build a self-belief evidence bank
- Jessica Rose Williams capsule wardrobe e-book
- Coaching services
In this week’s episode, I’m going to be talking about the radical act of liking yourself and self acceptance. I know it can be one of the hardest things to do and we’re almost always our worst critic but I promise you, it can be done. I’ll be talking a little bit more about my own journey to self acceptance and sharing some tips that I hope can help you just like yourself a little bit more. So, if you’re ready to learn more about that, then settle in, get a cup of coffee, and let’s get into it.
Well hello everyone! I hope you’re doing well. This feels quite strange, being in front of the microphone again. I’ve actually had a couple of weeks off, because when I decided to start the podcast, I wanted to have a good number of episodes recorded and ready to go before I even launched. So I’ve actually recorded and edited 8 episodes of the podcast before I launched. So at the time of recording this one, I have only just released the first episode, and it’s gone live. So that was absolutely amazing, the support was incredible. So if you’re one of those people who listened from the very first episode, you’re amazing, I love you! But yeah, it was nice to be able to take a couple of weeks off and not think about it and then yeah, get back into it and it feels nice to be back in the wardrobe, chatting about subjects I really care about.
And this week that subject is self acceptance. Now, this is something I know a lot of us struggle with. And I’ve been thinking about why this is, and I was thinking back to my own experience, and I think, for myself, I think for a lot of us, growing up we get given this message that if we love ourselves it’s a bad thing. I dunno about you, but I remember this idea of loving yourself being the same as being big headed, being arrogant, being full of ourselves. And all of those things were things that we were told we shouldn’t want to be, we don’t want to be big headed, we don’t want to be full of ourselves. You should be humble, you should be quiet. All of these different things.
And I feel like those messages can really take hold and then they get backed up by different experiences we might have when we’re younger. For example, being told to be quiet in a classroom. And it gets to a point where we take it so seriously that we just struggle to like ourselves and accept ourselves at all.
And it’s really really hard, I know. We’re in our heads all day. We hear our own voices all the time. We see ourselves all the time. We get to a point where we’re almost blind of it, and that’s when it’s difficult because we don’t see what other people see when they look at us and when they talk to us.
And when that happens and when we start to dislike ourselves and we start to struggle with accepting who we are, things can just feel so much harder and our mental health can really be affected. I know, for me, when I was younger, I really remember vividly reading a letter that a quote-unquote “friend” wrote at the time to another friend talking about me and all of the different things that they didn’t like about me. Talk about worst nightmare, right? And I remember one of the things they said was that they thought I loved myself. And that was something they didn’t like about me. And I remember at the time I was at school, and this could not have been further from the truth. At the time, I was struggling with an eating disorder and I hated myself so intently, I was literally trying to make myself disappear. So reading that in this message and in this letter, I was just like, really? You think I love myself? Is that the- is that what I’m putting across right now? Because I really, really don’t. I wanted to be anybody else.
So yeah, it was just very interesting to see that perspective from people around me. I obviously was projecting a pretty happy and confident person, but inside I really wasn’t.
Now, there are a few factors that really helped me turn this around and change from hating myself to accepting myself. And those factors, for me, were getting therapy, was a huge one for me, and getting away from school, getting away from people that made me feel really bad.
And when I got to college, I really started to discover who I was. I discovered new music, I started wearing different clothes. I was able to express myself and understand what I liked and what I didn’t like, which is pretty hard to do when you are at school and when you’re wearing uniforms and you’re just trying to fit in with everyone else. At college, it felt like it was okay not to fit in. I met new people and I was studying subjects that I actually really cared about.
I started to not only accept who I was, flaws and all, but I started to actually like who I was again. And that was such a big thing for me.
And since then, there have been some tools that have really helped me improve my relationship with who I am and I wanted to share a few of them with you today, just in case they’re helpful for you as well.
So let’s start with the first tip, and that is to note down positive feedback. Now, this is something that I have mentioned in a previous podcast episode all about self worth, and that’s about building a self belief evidence bank. Now for me, what I did was note down whenever someone gave me some positive feedback and I could just flick through it whenever I was feeling low about myself.
Now, we shouldn’t rely on external validation. We really, really shouldn’t. But, when we’re at this beginning stage of our journey and we’re finding it really tough, it can help. So try that, try noting down when people give you positive feedback. Take screenshots on your phone, make a note in a notebook, and look back through it whenever you’re having one of those days when you just don’t like who you are at the moment.
And the next thing I would recommend would be increasing your self awareness because I really believe you need to connect with who you are now and understand yourself before you can start to accept yourself and like yourself. You need to get to know who you are.
So there are so many different ways you can do this. I personally journal. As I said, going to therapy was something when I was younger that really made a difference. Whatever it is that helps you, try it.
Now the next one might be a little bit out there and a little bit unusual but it really helped me and I wanted to add it in just in case it is something you resonate with. And that is to find your style. So for me, choosing what to wear when I got to college was just a game changer for me. I was able to to express myself using clothes and it was just a really helpful way to get to know what kind of things I liked, what I didn’t like, and just helped me express who I was and help me like myself a bit more. So if that’s something you’re keen to look into, I would really recommend checking out Jessica Rose Williams. She’s got an e-book all about building a capsule wardrobe and finding your style and she’s got a load of really great content on her website as well all about kind of capsule wardrobes and finding your style. And yeah, I just think it’s not for everybody. Some of you might be rolling your eyes right now, but I think understanding your style and your likes and dislikes goes a really long way when it comes to self acceptance.
The next thing I want to recommend is taking some time to look at yourself in the mirror. And I know this might sound a little bit obvious, like who doesn’t look at themselves in the mirror? But when you don’t like yourself, and especially when you’re struggling with body image, it can be quite hard to take that time to actually look at yourself.
So I know for me, when I was struggling with my eating disorder, looking at myself in the mirror, especially at my body, was really difficult and it took a lot for me to do that. But when I did, I tried to focus on what I liked about my body. What I liked about my appearance. And although very, very difficult at first, over time you start practicing it, like a habit, you start getting into a routine with it, it becomes easier and you actually start to like your body and the way you look. So I definitely recommend taking the time to look at yourself in the mirror and trying to think about what you’re grateful for and what you like about yourself.
Now another thing I would recommend, and I briefly touched on this when I talked about going to college and how that helped me discover new music and new passions, and that is to express yourself and explore your passions.
So figure out what it is you love and what it is you don’t love. And try and find a way, if you can, to slowly share your views with other people. Because that’s kind of the next step after self acceptance, is sharing who you are with others. And this can be really really difficult. And I know for a lot of us, our minds go to sharing online, but you don’t have to. If you don’t feel comfortable talking about it online, then just try doing it in real life. Maybe start chatting to someone you work with about a hobby you have. Start engaging in conversations where you can express yourself a little bit more.
Now the next thing I want to recommend is definitely something I’ve mentioned before on the podcast and I believe it was in episode two, all about self worth, but I think it bears repeating because it’s really appropriate here. And that is to change the way you speak to yourself.
I know that sounds so simple and yet so, so, so hard. But the key really is to just try and catch yourself when you are speaking to yourself negatively. Try and build up your self awareness and recognise when it is you’re talking to yourself like that and what it is you’re saying. See if practices like affirmations or gratitude journaling or even meditation can help you to change this and reframe it into something more positive.
And my last piece of advice would be accept that nobody’s perfect. All of us have flaws and all of us can strive to do better but that only comes with learning and compassion. Berating yourself about not being perfect is not gonna a) it’s not gonna make you perfect , and b) it’s not going to change who you are at all. It’s just going to make you miserable. So try and accept the fact that you do have flaws and if there is something you want to change about yourself, then work on changing it, but give yourself some compassion and space to grow whilst you’re doing that.
So I just want to say, finally before I go, that it really is okay if you don’t like yourself all the time. I know I talk about self acceptance a lot and I talk about how important it is, but I also know realistically it’s not easy to like yourself every single day. I don’t like myself every single day! Trust me. But instead, I just want to encourage you to really catch yourself before you spiral and try to be a little bit more gentle with yourself, a little bit more compassionate, and understand that it’s okay to not like yourself. If you’re having one of those days where you just don’t like yourself very much, just consider it a write off and maybe start again the next day. And I promise you, if you keep practicing the things I’ve mentioned here, if you keep building it up, if you keep having support systems around you, speaking to professionals if you need to, it can get better.
And there we go! I really hope that was helpful. I know self acceptance is a really big topic and we’ve only touched on it briefly today. But I hope that the points that we’ve covered have helped you and given you some food for thought when it comes to changing the way you think about yourself. Because self acceptance really is, like a lot of things in the personal development world, it’s a muscle. It takes practice and it takes patience to build. But I promise you, the results are so, so worth it.
And I would say that if it’s something you have been struggling with, maybe for quite a long time, and if you could benefit from additional support, definitely look out for that. There’s different routes you could take. If you think self acceptance issues may come from childhood or may be rooted in your mental, I would definitely suggest looking for a counsellor who can help you. As I mentioned in this episode, therapy was something that really helped me with my self acceptance. If it’s a specific area, maybe it’s body image or career or something like that, you might want to look for a coach who can help you change your perspective with that . That’s definitely an area that I work in. I try to help people with their self worth and building up their self care practices, which, self care can really relate to self acceptance because you’re showing yourself that you deserve time and attention. So it’s all very interlinked.
And if you think I might be the right person for you, definitely check out the coaching page on bluejayofhappiness.com.
But yeah, that’s all from me this week! I will be back with another episode soon, but until then, I really hope you have a lovely week!